The COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic shutdown it has precipitated, has laid bare the Indian state’s inability to tackle a magnitude of this crisis. Our health system is woefully under-prepared, millions of people have slipped through the holes in a threadbare social security net, and NGOs and individuals are being forced to step in and help any way they can. India’s comedy scene has already stepped up to the plate, with a number of virtual shows and live-streams raising funds for those on the front-lines of the battle against COVID-19.
Now Kunal Kamra—the comic all bhakts love to hate—has joined in. On Instagram this morning, Kamra announced that he’ll give away his YouTube button, which he received for crossing a million subscribers on the platform, to the person donating the highest amount to a fundraising campaign to help donate COVID-19 test kits to the country’s worst affected regions. He also urged other artists to give away their prized possessions towards charity, inspiring similar offers from Anurag Kashyap, Javed Akhtar, Maanvi Gagroo and others.
The fundraiser—started on Milaap.org by publishing house Burda Media India—is raising money to provide hospitals and labs with test kits for early detection of the virus, produced by Mylab Discovery Solutions. Each testing kit costs Rs 1,20,000 (plus GST), and can test 100 samples. Kamra himself has donated Rs. 1,34,000 to the campaign, but the fundraiser still has a way to go before it hits its total target of 13,44,000.
Kamra has been joined in this effort by others from the comedy and entertainment industry. Anurag Kashyap was the first to get on board, offering his 2013 Filmfare Critics’ Award for Gangs of Wasseypur for auction. The list now also includes Javed Akhtar (offering a signed copy of his book In Other Words), Maanvi Gagroo (a Shalini Dokania outfit), and Varun Grover (his 2015 TOIFA trophy for “Best Lyricist” for Moh Moh Ke Dhaage).
If you want to help ensure quick and free testing for COVID- 19—and have the chance to bag a very unique memorabilia item—then you can click on this link to donate. And make sure to email your donation screenshots to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to keep an eye on Kamra’s Twitter and Instagram for updates on other celebrity additions to the auction.