In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, donations have been pouring in from the privileged around the world. The respiratory disease has so far claimed more than one lakh lives globally, and in economically weaker countries like India, the lockdown could see deaths due to hunger and starvation too.
A lot of celebrities in India have made donations to combat the disease and its many economic consequences. But one name that has stood out is that of former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Reports on social media claimed that the out of favour batsman had donated a sum of rupees one lakh via a crowdfunding website Ketto to a charitable trust in Pune, in order to help combat coronavirus.
The report received mixed reactions from fans on Twitter. While some hailed Dhoni for his generosity, others opined that the amount donated was too little from someone who earns INR 800 crore from his annual contract. #ShameOnDhoni soon started trending on Twitter.
Later, Dhoni’s wife Sakshi took to the micro blogging platform, pledging reporters to not spread false news, as if to indicate that the actual donation made by the keeper batsman was a lot more.
Dhoni, who is not very active on social media, has rarely in the past spoken about the donations made by him. The unverified news of him donating INR rupees one lakh, thus, cannot be taken at face value. For someone who has pledged to serve in the Indian army after retirement, the possibility of donations made privately is high. But since the World Cup winning captain generates high number of page views, most organisations decided to run clickbait stories on how a rich man made a poor contribution.
Similar story can be told of fantasy sports giant Dream11. A Twitter user started a trend called #ShameOnDream11, assuming the organisation had not done its bit to help the country. In the past, the Mumbai based company has made humble donations during the Pulwama attacks and Kerala floods. But a single tweet claiming that Dream11 didn’t join hands to combat coronavirus led to backlash on social media.
Behind the curtains, though, the organisation has already made quite a few donations. They have joined hands with feeding India, Angel Xpress Foundation, Pratham Mumbai Food Project, Vandana Foundation, PM Cares fund and Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Relief Fund among many other initiatives. The organisation is known for its philanthropic hand, but misinformed keyboard warriors sought to negativity on Twitter.
To publicise the donation or not, is purely an individual choice
To donate or not, and to publicise the donation or not, is an individual choice. Celebrities have the power to set an example and encourage people to join hands in times of crisis. But most of them decide to donate anonymously, so that the donation is not mistaken for a publicity gig. Charity is a voluntary service and no one, not even Dhoni for that matter, is under the compulsion to donate.
Social media has no entrance exam to become a certified keyboard warrior, and over the years, platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp have become the home of misinformation. Ethical journalism is now a thing of rarity, with unverified news bringing more TRP than the verified one.
At a time when we need to maintain peace and together fight COVID-19, the last thing we should do is let the threat of social media prevail. As aforementioned, donations are a personal choice and we need to keep our heads out of it.
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