Bollywood actors Anil Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Katrina Kaif, Sonakshi Sinha and vocalist Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar have joined hands to participate in a virtual fundraiser to support India’s vaccination drive. COVID-19 wave is beginning to recede from the country and several foundations have done their bit to raise awareness and funds about the urgent need for vaccination.
Vax.India.Now, a virtual music concert will be held on July 7, 2021. The initiative is helmed by the Anuradha Palakurthi Foundation which has also brought together global singers and celebrities like Gloria Estefan, Sting, Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox, Yoyo Ma, A R Rahman, Josh Groban, Aasif Mandvi, Andrea Bocelli, Matteo Bocelli, David Foster, Norwegian DJ Alan Walker, Pia Toscano, Zubin Mehta, Nishat Khan, Ranjani Gayatri Sisters, Fareed Zakaria, Anuradha Juju Palakurthi,
Hollywood superstar Liam Neeson would also be a part of this global musical concert. Throwing more light on the noble event, Anuradha Palakurthi speaks exclusively to India TV Digital.
With the second wave, many organizations set out to help people get vaccinated. What is Vax India initiative and how is it different from others?
I could not be more heartened by the massive private ownership of the vaccination drive in India. I say thank you to all of them. I am also overjoyed by the growth of so many committed, very efficient non-profits over the last 30 years. Given the size and complexity of India, such private ownership of public challenges is critical and I know will make India a greater nation.
Some really global big names here, what exactly do you want to achieve by Vax India Now initiative?
In the case of vaccinations, the overall numbers are easy to see, and we should not be overwhelmed –
(a) 600m people need to be vaccinated and India has shown that it can do at least 10m a day. So, that is theoretically a 60-day problem. I know that the actual time will be longer. Having said that
(b) India has a massive network of non-profits that can play a very active role in helping the actual days closer to the 60. If only
(c) they had more resources. This concert of global appeals to add real substance to such organizations
So, we are just adding resources to their efforts. Until 600m are vaccinated, none of us is done!
Tell us something about the theme song.
All artists here volunteered and said “Yes” – because they want to be part of the solution, “Hum Saath Hai” if you will – and that is the title of the theme song. It is written by Neelesh Misra, composed by Bappa B Lahiri, and sung by me. Please watch it! India’s pain is a global challenge AND a healthy India is a must for a healthy world. In immediate terms of reduced mutation risks but also re-commissions the vaccination powerhouse that India is.
There is a huge Bollywood star power in the event. Do you think it is essential to rope in stars to bring focus to such a noble cause, which otherwise too, has its own pull?
We have a great segment in the concert – A roundtable of professors from MIT and Harvard that brings its collective US vaccine-deployment knowledge and experiences to the event. Not sure if MIT/Harvard Bollywood and Hollywood stars were in one place together! We have more than just star power here.
Stars know that they have a big bullhorn and have never been shy of using it for righting social injustice. They have been in the front of many social and political reforms all over the world – think Woodstock, think Janis Joplin, think K A Abbas, think Kaifi Azmi. We are happy that they have volunteered to use it here.
What exactly are the actors’ role in the Vax India fundraiser?
VaxIndiaNow is a music concert. But along with the performances we want the world to hear stories of real people in rural India that are doing their bit to battle the situation, with limited resources. To demonstrate this indomitable Indian spirit in areas that most people have never been to. These stories will be narrated by great Indian actors and my Guru Vidushi Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar. Watching these videos makes us remember who needs our urgent help and why.
Tell us more about Anuradha Palakurthi Foundation.
APF was my vehicle to invest in increasing the popularity of Indian Classical music in the USA. And use music to support Veterans’ causes. However, the recent situation made it impossible for us to stick to its knitting – and we had to repurpose the objective of that organization – and redirect it to the immediate problem on hand.