The first annual Global Citizen Festival in India saw 80,000 fans congregating at the MMRDA grounds at the Bandra-Kurla Comple, Mumbai, on 19 November, to watch British band Coldplay perform.
While some concertgoers paid anything between Rs 5,000 to 35,000 for a ticket; 80 percent of the attendees had earned their tickets through volunteering to fulfill the sustainable development goals that the Global Citizen Festival has adopted.
There were six rounds of lucky draws and volunteers who were campaigning for goals like gender equality and the right to clean water for the people of India got a chance to win tickets to the concert.
The concert too, which was held on World Toilet Day (19 November), had countless Bollywood celebrities from Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, Sonam Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and Freida Pinto reminding us of the greater cause underlying the event. East India Comedy performed a sketch talking about ending open defecation in India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi even thanked the organising committee for 'making public policy cool'.
While the concertgoers enjoyed watching Coldplay, Jay-Z and AR Rahman's live performances; they seemed to have forgotten all about the greater cause they were there to support.
After a shortage of drinking water when the crowd was ushered into the venue at 11 am, the organisers finally arranged for water by late afternoon. These bottles were distributed free to attendees.
However, while there were recycling bins dispersed at some places, there wasn't space to actually reach the bins as the evening went on and the ground became more and more packed. Concertgoers decided to litter the grounds instead of throwing food packages and empty bottles in the bins. While there were people coming in to clean up the grounds periodically, a lot of water and uneaten food was simply abandoned throughout the concert venue.
This is right outside the Global Citizen concert. People who've done this, have taken the pledge for sanitation, hygiene and cleanliness. pic.twitter.com/SjnqWYg0E0
— Partha Sinha (@parthasinha) November 19, 2016
Ornellius Saldanha, who attended the concert remarked, "The ground was littered with empty plastic bottles, and quite a lot of bottles on the floor were half filled with water, and some with the seal still intact."
"There was a lot of food too; we found a whole box full of samosas and momos," Saldanha said to Firstpost.
Dylan Dsouza, another concertgoer told Firstpost, "First of all they ran out of water bottles and all of us were thirsty but didn't know where to get water from. On the other hand, there were water bottles thrown all around us during the concert. Most of them were half full and and and a few were not even opened. People had just thrown these down, not caring about the others and how much water they are wasting. For a charity event which spoke about beti bachao and sanitation and all, it was very sad so see so much wastage of water around us."
Saldanha, Dsouza and a few other people decided to do something about the litter. They collected around 205 litre-bottles of water and distributed it later to people who needed it.
Saldanha, Dsouza were among the few who tried to clean up the venue and distribute the water and food among people in need; driving the point of the Global Citizen concert home.
A spokesperson from Global Citizen responded to Firstpost's story:
"The Global Citizen Festival India held on Saturday, 19 November welcomed a crowd of over 80,000 committed to working towards ending extreme poverty by 2030. It was a celebration of what India has done so far and the potential for young citizen-led change in the future. In total, Rs 40,500 crore was committed to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes, Quality Education initiatives and Gender Equality platforms by governments, corporates and NGOs across India. The 5 lakh Global Citizens in India are primed to make sure that leaders uphold and deliver on these commitments in the years to come.
After the Festival, Global Citizen India executed plans to use the unused food and waste generated to give back to communities around Mumbai in a net-zero effort. Global Citizen volunteers cleaned up the grounds to leave it in the state it was found through NGO Swachhalay. They spent their Sunday cleaning up litter that was left behind; all paper, plastics and metals were sent for recycling through NGO Raddi Connect, while all organic waste is being composted by Organic Recycling Systems. The solid waste is being compacted and given to nurseries and the particulate matter will be converted into biogas which through a generator feed will produce electricity for BKC offices. Each tonne of waste that is converted into biogas can generate between 150-200 kilowatts of electricity.
In addition, partner NGO Robin Hood Army collected and re-distributed all the semi-perishable raw food left over from the Festival among underprivileged communities across Mumbai – from Colaba to Borivali and Thane. Twenty volunteers collected all the leftover food, while 70 other volunteers distributed it among the needy in 16 different areas across the city on Sunday, 20 November."
— With inputs by Reema Mukherjee