New Delhi, Jul 7 (PTI) Vaccination is the way forward for India in its fight against COVID-19, says US-based singer Anuradha Juju Palakurthi who has brought together some of the biggest Indian and international celebrities such as A R Rahman, Sting, Liam Neeson and Katrina Kaif for a charity concert, Vax.India.Now.
The virtual concert on Wednesday, to be aired in India on Thursday on Colors Infinity and Comedy Central at 9 PM with a repeat telecast the next day, is a global initiative to drum up support for vaccination in India.
A noted playback singer with deep roots in India despite living in Boston for 30 years, Anuradha Juju Palakurthi said the concert is their way of trying to help the country they call home.
'I don't know what funds we will be able to raise and I don't know how much we need but the target is to create herd immunity in India. And I know that 65 to 100 million have already been vaccinated. The aim is to get another 900 million vaccinated,' Anuradha Juju Palakurthi told PTI via Zoom.
The artistes backing the initiative include names such as Shabana Azmi, Anil Kapoor, Gloria Estefan, Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox, Yoyo Ma, Josh Groban, Aasif Mandvi, Andrea Bocelli, Matteo Bocelli, David Foster, Norwegian DJ Alan Walker, Pia Toscano, Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar, Zubin Mehta, Nishat Khan, Ranjani Gayatri Sisters, Neelesh Misra, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Fareed Zakaria, Anupam Kher, Shilpa Shetty Kundra Sonakshi Sinha and Anuradha Juju Palakurti.
Comedian Hasan Minhaj will host Vax.India.Now.
Anuradha Juju Palakurthi, who is backing the campaign through her Anuradha Palakurthi Foundation and Juju Productions, a company that she runs with her husband Prashant Palakurthi, said 'cultural figures have historically played a great role in mobilising social conscience and writing the arc of history'.
'Even today, they do a lot of social activism in India. It was unthinkable that they will not agree and they will not represent some part of it in our concerts. I am nothing compared to the names that have agreed to be in the concert,' she said.
The country has been recovering from a brutal second wave of the pandemic but Anuradha Juju Palakurthi said there will be a time to look at how the pandemic was handled but now is the time to focus on getting most of the population vaccinated to prevent further spread of the virus.
'I really believe that vaccination is the way to go. So we have to drive this change. I know that India can do 10 million a day. So realistically, if you go according to the plan, then you can actually vaccinate the remaining population of India in one month, but I don't know if that's possible.
'We have to really try that and make sure herd immunity is created in India. I think India has such a huge population in the world, so India has to be vaccinated,' she said.
Prashant Palakurthi said they started the campaign with the belief that good people will come forward to support them and that's what happened.
'We just need to vaccinate people quickly and rapidly. We keep telling people who have contributed, the key message is that you can be a contributor to a system that has vaccinated polio, smallpox and etc. This is not some country with no infrastructure.
'We are a powerhouse. And that's what we are telling people who are investing in our cause. We have formal and informal networks in India. India is a great place to see what vaccinations can do to drive,' he said.
Prashant Palakurthi hopes that the concert inspires others to contribute in a bigger way.
'We hope that whatever we do, there are 100 other people who can do more than us. What we want is to bring everyone together and take community action. That's what Juju wanted to do,' he said.
'Astonishingly, a lot of people joined in. You start one small thing and then a lot of people join you. In the end, you should become the smallest object in the entire movement and that's what happened to us.' All contributions from the concert will be directed to carefully vetted charities operating in mostly rural India. Vax.India.Now will be streamed globally by CNN Digital and is sponsored by Anuradha Palakurthi Foundation, a project of the Giving Back Fund.
Vax.India.Now is being produced by 6W Entertainment, USA and Wizcraft, Mumbai and the Gaon Connection. It is supported by the WMA Agency, Black Cab Entertainment, Wizspk, KJ PR Agency, & Dreamstage.
Colors Infinity and Comedy Central will air VAX.India.Now, the virtual fundraiser on July 8 at 9 PM. The repeat telecast for the same will be on July 11 at 9 PM. PTI BK RDS RDS