At the start of Salman Khan’s session at the star-studded India Today Conclave 2014, host Koel Purie defined the inimitable Khan as a “hothead matched by a huge heart; ultimate bad boy do-gooder; superhero of the masses.” And true to her description, Salman Khan, entirely unrehearsed, spoken in chaste Hindi (video here), bared his chest and then proceeded to do the most amazing thing – decided to make toilets sexy!
Khan came onstage soon after a session and panel discussion on “Toilets vs. Temples” where Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organisation, alongside Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh, impressed upon the audience, the urgency of fixing the rural sanitation crisis in India. Over 600 million Indians have no access to toilets – if you line up the countries where open defecation is practised, India leads and also has more than twice the number as the next 18 countries with no access to toilets. The proportion is worse in rural India – where 68% of rural households don’t have their own toilets.
“My message was to ‘make toilets sexy’ by getting Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood, cricket stars, temples, churches, and mosques to promote them. I also talked about bringing some of the compulsory 2% CSR money to fund toilets,” says Jack Sim, over an e-mail note.
The highlight of the evening came when the big Khan chose ‘Sexy Toilets’ as his charity of choice to donate money from his philanthropic effort, “Being Human”. People offered Rs. 10,000 to hug him, companies offered to donate 100 toilets each and there was pandemonium and more, Bollywood style.
But at the end of the evening, toilets came up the winner – WTO raised money to build 700 toilets and some spare from the hugs to make up for 10 more. That’s more than USD 1,40,000 in a single evening – perhaps the quickest large fundraising effort around a cause like rural sanitation.
So happy Megastar Salman Khan raised fund USD140,000 for WTO last night at India Today Conclave. http://t.co/48inQf6kxf
— jack sim (@jackwto) March 9, 2014
At the Conclave, Khan had apparently been very honest about his charitable leanings. “We have opened a charitable trust and we try to do good work. You do good work to genuinely feel good, or to hide some guilt or a fear, or to show off, or to change your image. I don’t know for what I am doing this for – maybe sometimes to show off, or do it genuinely, or to change my image. But whatever be the reason, I’m doing good work,” the shirtless star had said apparently. Whatever may be the reason, more power to acts of good, more toilets for India, and better sanitation for all, we say.