A 12-hour live telethon on Sunday brought together several stars from the film industry as well as from the sports fields. Sanjay Dutt, Sachin Tendulkar, Boman Irani, Govinda and many others went out of their way to raise funds for the ‘Support My School’ campaign which was launched in January by NDTV, in partnership with Coca-Cola India, CAF and UN-Habitat. The campaign’s purpose is to create awareness on water and sanitation, environment and healthy, active living in Indian schools. To give just one example of one of the problems the endeavor hopes to erase is that in many schools, especially in rural areas, they don’t provide separate toilets for girls, which makes many girls back out from school so they remain uneducated. ‘Support My School’ wants to change that.
With Rs.500,000 per school, toilets for girls and facilities for drinking water, rainwater harvesting, and sports and games can be created. The fund raising target of the 12-hour telethon on NDTV had been Rs.5 crore for 100 schools. In the end, the target was even exceeded: Rs.7 crore will give 139 schools across the country a better life.
‘I think we have touched a chord that even 65 years after Independence, we haven’t been able to provide separate toilets for girl students in government schools. As a next step, we now pledge to visit each chief minister to urge them to provide in their next budgets Rs.50 crore to Rs.100 crore for creating basic infrastructure in government schools,’ said NDTV chief Pranoy Roy as he wound up the telethon.
‘It is important that the entire nation gets together for this initiative,’ cricket star Sachin Tendulkar said after NDTV anchor Vikram Chandra launched the telethon. During almost nine hours he gave many tips to Mumbai school students present in the studio and, in an interactive session via video, to children all over the country (‘Sachin ki Paathshala’); he showed his skills and even was the centre of the quiz ‘All about Sachin’ with school children which was hosted by NDTV sports editor Sonali Chander and actor Boman Irani (who, in a funny scene, caught Munnabhai Sanju trying to ‘cheat’ during the quiz). Sachin never grew tired of appealing for donations and made a contribution of Rs.500,000 each on behalf of his children Arjun and Sara.
Sanjay Dutt joined the telethon for several hours as a co-host, gave out jadoo ki jhappis to donors and helpers and even made a donation of Rs.10 lakh. The same amount was given each by Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar. Govinda enjoyed the public paying a dancing tribute to Shammi Kapoor. Even Gulshan Grover, Neha Dupia, Dia Mirza, Darsheel Safari, Shabeer Ahluwalia and many other stars, dancers and musicians joined the telethon which was telecast live on all NDTV channels until the news of the earth quake on the Sikkim-Nepal border came in on Sunday evening. Nevertheless, many small and big donations continued pouring in and in the end gave a result which will make many school children in India happy.