Generation Y is relying not just on social media to bring about the societal changes that their earnest eyes want to see. Combining the two passions of their lives — music and philanthropy — a group of Mumbai youngsters have started Rock For a Cause (RFAC) that organises rock concerts and gigsto promote social issues.
The average age of this myriad group of youngsters, which is slowly growing into a tribe, is a remarkable 23. Their Twitter handle describes them well: ‘Love music, be the change.’ The thought of a harmonious marriage between music and good deeds interested Prashin Unadkat (22). “He came up with the idea of exploring avenues in Mumbai where you can bridge music with philanthropy. And we started talking to like-minded friends,” reveals Parikshit Juvekar, 22, a medical student, who is Unadkat’s junior in college. Tracing their group’s roots, he avers, “We were pretty fascinated by the thought of live concerts.”
RFAC organised its first gig at K J Somaiya Medical College (Unadkat and Juvekar’s alma mater) in April 2011, in a bid to raise awareness about diabetes amongst the youth. The enthusiastic response gave the youngsters a boost. Dhawal Jain, 26, a forthright member from the group — not surprising, he is a practicing lawyer — chips in, “We had a diabetes screening camp at the venue and many youngsters participated. It gave us the courage to do more gigs in an organised and consistent fashion.”
The group’s main concerns can be whittled down to two — organising a popular music group and making sure the philanthropy is well channelised. Their music shows have been a hit with the youth, especially when they got Indo-German group Fire On Dawson to perform at the Institute of Chemical Technology in February this year. “We had been following them for a really long time. Their vocalist Ankur Batra is from Delhi, so we got in touch with him,” says Prarthana Desai (22), PR head, RFAC.
“A foreign band performing here enthuses the crowd,” points out Juvekar. “Also, local bands and budding artistes perform to support varied causes at the High Street Phoenix mall’s courtyard every month. The youth idolises musicians; when they see their idols promoting a cause, it helps to mobilise support in a big way,” he adds.
The organisation has collaborated with NGOs like CRY and SNEHA Foundation. “All of us are always looking for causes. And sometimes, through word of mouth, people approach us,” Juvekar reveals. “The charities let us decide on the bands because we are familiar with the causes with which celebrity artistes are involved.”
Some bands are skeptical initially because there have been instances “when they realise that they have been ripped off. The organisers used the event for their personal benefit and not for charity,” avers Jain. “Equipment costs a lot and infrastructure can be a problem, but fortunately most of the bands carry their own stuff,” points out Juvekar, talking about the logistics.
The sponsors may take their time to warm up but the group says they have been able to enlist support once “they are convinced that there is a genuine motive.”
Their enthusiasm has led to a leap in ambition. Desai, who claims that philanthropy is in her genes, says, “We are in talks with people from different cities to extend our reach.” Juvekar adds, “Music is the main thrust but we plan to promote local talent and art in the future.”
And their long-term plan, Jain earnestly declares, is to “mobilise the population at large, especially the young; and bring about change as well as ‘be’ the change.” What is their stake in this? Juvekar and Jain echo in unison, “Satisfaction,” while Desai unabashedly asserts, “Pride.”