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Entertaining and Emotional: Global Citizen India’s key value propositions hit the mark

All the buzz about Global Citizen Festival consummated on 19 November 2016 at MMRDA Grounds of Mumbai where close to 80,000 ‘global citizens’ convened amidst a heavy dose of entertainment, glamour and theatrics.

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With a pledge to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, globalcitizen.org is a social action digital platform that works by engaging communities and committing them to positive social change. Global Citizen Festival is its flagship event that takes place annually in New York. This year the festival made its grand debut in Mumbai on 19 November as a collaboration between The Global Education and Leadership Foundation and Government of Maharashtra. The event, being hosted for the first time outside of New York, was produced by Wizcraft.

It was announced at a press launch on 12 September 2016 that tickets for the event could be won by fulfilling certain actions including signing petitions, tweeting, taking quizzes or referring friends, calling on political, celebrities and business leaders to be more accountable in their efforts to improve education, gender equality and water, sanitation and hygiene in India. Completion of each task would earn people points with a total of 16 points needed to enter the draw for free tickets. Finally on the day of the festival a whopping 80,000 attendees turned up, of which approximately 50,000 had won free tickets as a result of 20 lakh actions taken. The fact that the likes of Coldplay, Jay Z and Demi Lovato were headlining the event surely served as a huge impetus.

In nearly two months since the launch of the Global Citizen India movement, a range of artists and celebrities was added to the roster. Amitabh Bachchan, A R Rehman, Farhan Akhtar, Freida Pinto, Sachin Tendulkar, Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Shraddha Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Arijit Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Dia Mirza, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and more featured at the event to perform and pledge support to the movement.

But the event was not just glitz and glamour. Several business leaders such as Ratan Tata and public policy makers including the most senior levels of state and central government like Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and MP Poonam Mahajan committed themselves to issues pertaining to sanitation, education and gender. Prime Minister Narender Modi was also wired in to talk to the gathering through a live video-conference.

As far as youth festivals go, Global Citizen Festival India really cracked the model. Their unique strategy to intersperse music and entertainment with positive messages from influencers kept the youth thoroughly engaged and also allowed event partners to connect with a captive audience. Youngsters who would most likely be restless in any given scenario stood patiently in thousands in the sweltering Mumbai heat intently listening to speeches, campaigning and announcements as the promise of short bouts of entertainment kept them glued.

While the performance by international rock band Coldplay, slotted as the final act, was the ultimate incentive for most, organizers had ensured top-notch entertainment that was consistent and plenty. Amitabh Bachchan recited a stirring poem from his recent movie Pink and performed a duet with Farhan Akhtar, Sonakshi Sinha sang, East India Comedy presented a sidesplitting comical routine, AR Rahman belted nostalgic tunes like Dil Se and Hamma Hamma, while other celebs like Frieda Pinto, Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, Sonam Kapoor, Vidya Balan simply used this as an opportunity to talk to the young crowd.

The energy began building up from 1:30 in the afternoon when the festival gates opened, and it had reached it’s pinnacle when the headlining act Coldplay came on to perform at 8:45 pm. Chris Martin, the lead vocalist of the iconic band and also the curator of Global Citizen Festival, won over the crowd with his exuberant performance and vocal prowess. 80,000 enamored attendees swayed as the band performed its chart busting songs Yellow, Paradise, Clocks, In my place, Fix you, Sky full of stars, in a performance that lasted close to two hours. The bands surreal rendition of Maa Tujhe Salaam with A R Rahman had the crowd in uproars.

Adding to the experience was the great production value of the set. Everything from the vibrant stage, the show theatrics, arresting fireworks and dove-shaped confetti aptly designed for the purpose, lent to the immense experiential value of the event. The entire event was captured through drones and aired Live on channel partner VH1 for millions of viewers glued to their TV sets for Coldplay’s first performance in India.

25 commitments and announcements were made at the event by policymakers, set to affect more than 50 crore people with an investment of INR 22,940 crore. HP committed to provide 48 mobile classrooms, investing US $3.6 million to result in 15 million people in rural areas of India getting access to quality education and technology over 6 years, Toilet Board Coalition committed US$15 million over 3 years to help 130 million people gain improved access to sanitation and hygiene, IDFC Bank committed to provide 200,000 micro finance loans for water and sanitation, worth INR 200 crore to reach 450,000 people by the end of 2019.

Hugh Evans, CEO, Global Citizen said: “Global Citizen Festival India showed the power of youth taking action together. More than 500,000 young Global Citizens took more than 2 million actions. And tonight, we saw the results - dozens of commitments that will affect the lives of 500m people. Tonight marks a moment of great celebration, but it is only the beginning of the journey. The growing movement of more than 8 million Global Citizens around the world will keep campaigning to make sure leaders deliver on these promises, and commit to do even more."

Sabbas Joseph, co-founder, Wizcraft stated, “It is amazing to execute the biggest gathering of young people for a social cause that India has ever seen. 80,000 charged up youngsters and not one incident of disorderly conduct is very reassuring when we think of our country’s future. It is a matter of great pride to be part of this noble initiative and we hope to elevate the experience year on year“.

As 80,000 people exited MMRDA grounds in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex area there was an obvious shortage of cabs and public transportation and thousands of youngsters were seen peppered through the neighborhood, as if taking the message from the event, to the people.

The Global Citizen Festival India was presented by Colors Viacom18 and Venky’s, and was powered by UPL and NECC. Other partners included the United Nations, the Times of India Group, Google, Hindustan Unilever, Ola, Spykar, Make My Trip, Taj Group of Hotels, BookMyShow, Rishtey Cineplex, Voot, Radio Mirchi.



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