Shahrukh’s Flushed With Victory
Stars stereotypically shun the unglamorous, but for Bollywood icon Shahukh Khan a flush is a hit. Toilet humour aside, the star has just been named a global ambassador for sanitation and hygiene (part of a United Nations backed campaign), thanks to a perfectly practical pledge to help cut thousands of easily preventable deaths through the provision of basic restroom facilities across India.
The perilous restroom visit in developing nations is a task only undertaken by stout of heart and the weak of bladder. While seasoned globetrotters may laughingly compare notes about the hardships experienced away from the 5-star comfort of their hotels, the reality is that access to basic facilities goes beyond dignity and comfort, it’s an important step towards tackling diseases such as diarrhea—the second-biggest killer of children worldwide.
Khan’s new role comes as specialists and non-governmental organizations, all working to improve public health, gathered in Mumbai earlier this week at the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) conference. In a public service announcement broadcast by nearly 20 television stations across India, Shahrukh stated his mission at this first ever global forum on sanitation.
“It is shameful and tragic that every 30 seconds a child dies from preventable diarrhea—that’s two unnecessary child deaths per minute,” Khan said. “Toilets for all will make India and the world a healthier and cleaner place, particularly for poor women, girls and others at the margins of our societies.”
The goal is to halve the number of people living without access to basic facilities by 2015.
Shahrukh poignantly challenged others to join the cause by quoting Mahatma Ghandhi: “Be the change that you want to see.”
Shahrukh began his career as a soap star in the early 90s. Today, at the age of 45, he is one of the most sought-after and recognized faces of Bollywood. Khan also owns Red Chillies Entertainment, which holds the IPL Cricket team Kolkata Knight Riders.
Shahrukh’s presence lends a huge impetus to the project, drastically increasing its chances of success. It’s not glamorous. Really, it’s not the sort of thing anyone wants to think about, but it is necessary—and Shahrukh deserves to be commended for an action that’s going to significantly improve the lives of many people.