SEATTLE, Washington — On Sunday, May 3, 2020, Bollywood filmmakers Karan Johar and Zoya Akhtar hosted a live concert over Facebook called #iForIndia to raise money for GiveIndia’s coronavirus relief efforts. Big-name stars from both Bollywood and Hollywood, such as the Jonas Brothers, Jack Black and Will Smith, participated in this event. It aimed to raise $1 million to give back to a nation that desperately needs help.
The Live-Stream Fundraising Concert
#iForIndia is the world’s largest live fundraiser to date. It continues to receive support from corporate donors, philanthropists and celebrities. All the proceeds will be given to those who have no work, no home and do not know from where their next meal will come. They will also go to frontline and emergency workers.
Donations are made through the Facebook page and UPI, an Indian payment system. However, many donors, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, A.T.E. Chandra Foundation, Omidyar Network India and Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, vow to match the funds raised. Mick Jagger, who was in attendance, said, “[People] may have lost their jobs, they may have lost their homes. They and their families may be going hungry. So, I would like to ask you to donate. Please give what you can.”
Priyanka Chopra, who was born in India, shared a video on her Instagram, which boasts 54.2 million followers, about the concert. She captioned her post: “Let’s hold on world … let’s keep our hopes alive and wait for the world to heal. Happy to be a part of #IforIndia.” The donations will go towards providing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, “food, rations and even cash relief to daily wage and migrant workers.”
COVID-19 in India
While the entire world is being affected by the virus, India is suffering greatly. At least 73 million live in extreme poverty. As of early May, the number of confirmed cases surpassed 52,000 with more than 1,700 deaths. In a nation of 1.3 billion citizens, India’s testing measures have failed. In fact, India is among the many countries that are testing the smallest percentage of its population. While it has conducted more than 1.1 million tests, that is only about 800 tests for every one million people.
The country’s lockdown, while necessary, left millions of workers stranded with no work and no money to pay their rent or buy food. With public transportation also being shut down, those who were left stranded had no choice but to try and get home on foot. This included essential workers like construction workers, plumbers and electricians. Thousands of workers were hundreds of miles away from their homes and many died trying to get back.
Not only are these migrant workers at a higher risk of contracting the virus but so are the 64 million that are living in slums. These living conditions lack sanitation facilities and access to water, with only community toilets. Furthermore, there have been severe water shortages, making washing hands and showering sometimes impossible. Poor ventilation is another factor these people are facing, which can also advance the spread of COVID-19.
Besides those living in slums, healthcare workers are also at incredible risk. Most have no money to buy themselves protective gear, and hospitals are not always able to provide them. Many only have one mask that they must wash every day. They don’t have access to gloves and have even been forced to visit areas where the virus spread without gloves, masks or sanitizer. On top of putting themselves at high risk, they are only being paid ₹ 33 a day. That is the equivalent of just 0.44 cents in the United States.
Despite there being many in India who were unable to watch #iForIndia take place, some good news and a little bit of hope are finally coming their way. #iForIndia not only raised the funds they had hoped for but exceeded their goal tremendously. All in all, it raised ₹53,937,276 INR thus far, which will aid in relief for those who are struggling most. People can still make donations on #iForIndia’s Facebook page.
While all around the world individual’s futures have suddenly become uncertain, it is up to those who can still see the light at the end of the tunnel to give what they can to those who have gone dark. #iForIndia is one example where people who have the means can give back and help those who do not.
– Stacey Krzych
Photo: Wikipedia Commons