"Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not." - Oprah Winfrey
Heard recently through various media that US TV anchor Oprah Winfrey will be coming to New Delhi for some charity work. Currently with a fortune of 1 billion US dollars, Oprah is worth more than one of India's biggest companies - Infosys Technologies.
There was a time I never used to miss an episode of the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' - that was around 7-6 years ago. The shows used to give some great advice, celebrity interviews, recipes and fashion tips. I clearly remember the show about 'safety of women' where a foreign cop was giving advice on how to protect yourself if a stranger attacks you. He said, "never let him take you to another place."
Nowadays, when I happen to catch the 'The Oprah Show' while switching channels, I always find Oprah Winfrey trying to sell something useless which is usually pretty expensive. And yes, she doles out free samples to her audience. This can range from books, to makeup, food items, clothes and whatever else. She is always promoting the businesses of her friends that come on the show - like Gayle, Andre, Dr.Phil, the skinny dinosaur like negro woman..........list goes on. Most of the time her guests give wrong impractical advice that's 'unbelievably' irritating ! Even Oprah is a nuisance when she keeps pretending that she has suffered through every single malady that is being discussed. Maybe she is trying to connect with her audience, but it seems so fake !
One of the recent episodes of "The Oprah Show' which I saw was the one in which she interviewed Miss Fake herself - Bollywood actress Ms Aishwarya Rai. Here's a pic of Oprah looking cute in a pink saree and green shirt - really, what a combination !
I also saw the Oprah Show where Meg Ryan came to the slums in Jehangirpuri through an NGO called CARE to promote the 'girl child' issue. Meg Ryan was wearing a garland/tilak and bikharis (beggars) were running after her for 'bakshish'. Maybe, Meg Ryan is one of those good natured Americans who can't bear to see people suffering and decided to contribute to a 'cause', but the situation in India is quite different.Those who usually run after foreigners begging and making strange faces are usually professional beggars. This means that they each own begging territory or work for a begging and robbery gang. They may also pedal drugs and engage in child prostitution. They pop their bones and roll up their eyes to look handicapped. Some may even cut off a limb to look more realistic. Some hire or kidnap children to gain sympathy that earn international currency. Ever wondered how an old skinny woman could have five kids that looked around 3 years old ?
The people who are really poor are too ashamed to beg or ask anyone for anything. They work hard as labor to earn their daily bread. Most Indians know this 'beggary trick' very well and don't give any cash though we may give food and other stuff to the children that is of no use to the begging gang.
Most NGO's are another scam. All they do is write reports, update websites, sending press releases and fundraising. The money raised is never given to those who really need it but goes in paying for foreign trips of the socialite who heads the NGO. When foreigners come visiting, the NGO's collect servants, employees and relatives to display as orphans, widows etc. for the cameras and get more cash. Foreigners can't understand the language, so they are none the wiser. Many friends who work for top NGO's tell me that this is what happens in office.
When I see innocent foreigners like Oprah Winfrey and Meg Ryan visiting India to 'help the poor', I just pray they use their charity money wisely. I'd hate for it to go to waste when there are so many people who can benefit.
Read: Oprah Winfrey at Parmeshwar Godrej's Party, with the Bachchans in India.