Increasingly celebrities in India seek to make loads of money in a short period of time, and choose collaboration with unethical companies, promoting harmful products. And then there are powerful role models who choose another path…

The endorsement by celebrities of products can have serious adverse effects on health – for example in the case of MAGGI and school children. Maggi product “2 minute noodle” (that is popular with school kids) was found to be containing Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG) and lead higher than the permissible limits. The samples collected by Uttar Pradesh Food Safety and Drug Administration proved that MAGGI’s advertising messages, driven home by Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit – falsely boasted “nutritional value” of the noodles.

The common people increasingly feel they are being cheated and I can sense that outrage against stars endorsing controversial products (including alcohol brands) is growing and becoming more visible in social media discussions.

Nowadays, film and cricket stars have come to prefer brand endorsements as a source of revenue rather doing movies or playing cricket for their living. There is a clear disconnect between what they endorse and the health implication of their product on common people.

According to me, food can be either healthy or unhealthy. Food is produced, packaged and promoted and thus is subject to conditions related to permissible limits of hazardous chemicals that show a clear nexus between corporate, politician and brand endorsement personality. During World Health Organization’s 67th World Health Assembly, held in Geneva in 2014, the case was made that junk food is extremely damaging to public health, and that warning labels should be posted accordingly on the implicated foods.

I think it’s important that both the media and celebrities take into consideration the impact of the product before they’d decide to endorse or promote it.

There are celebrities who do that and who receive much praise, like movie star Ranbir Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, Singer Shaan, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar who turned down alcohol and tobacco brands.

Ranbir has said:

I don’t believe in endorsing alcohol and tobacco… Money is never the criteria. It’s about what you believe in and what comes naturally to you as a brand ambassador. It’s a responsibility you have towards the consumers and you can’t take them for granted.”

Sachin has decided not to endorse products that are harmful to one’s health ever and has stayed away from them. Well known cricketer Laxman is very choosy about the kind of brand he endorses. He refused to put the sticker of an alcohol brand on his bat despite the good money. Vivek Oberoi has turned down a 6 crore beer endorsement deal. The beer company initially offered him 3 crore, but after he rejected the offer, they doubled the offer. Vivek is adamant that he is not going to promote alcohol or smoking brand as it will damage the health of young fans.

These sportsmen and other celebrities are true role models who put the wellbeing of their fans and society before their own wallets and bank accounts. I congratulate them and support them whole heartedly.

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