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Anil to endorse Universal Birth Campaign

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006 

New Delhi (UNI): As an actor, he has enthralled cinegoers with many a diverse role during his three decade-long career in films. Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, however, today donned an altogether new role, as a brand ambassador to promote the social cause of Universal Birth Registration in India, a cause he feels needs all the support needed to ensure that all the children in India are able to get their ''first identity''. Given the fact that celebrities endorsing social causes have the potential to raise much needed awareness among masses, Plan India (a child centric organisation), has roped in Anil Kapoor as its goodwill ambassador in India for its nationwide Universal Birth Registration campaign.

Speaking at a press conference here, Anil Kapoor said that being a part of this Social campaign, the first one he had publicly associated himself with, was his way to repay the tremendous love and affection he had recieved from people over the years. 'Over the years, I have recieved a lot of love and affection from people and helping this cause is one of the most meaningful ways in which I can repay and make a contribution to the society,'' Anil Kapoor said. It was a chance meeting with eminent filmmaker Govind Nihalani, a member of the Plan India's governing board and the leading force behind the UBR campaign, that led Anil Kapoor to take up the cause.

''When Govindji told me that only 19 per cent of children under the age of five years in India possess birth certificate and that currently only 58 per cent of births are being registered in India, I was shocked at the statistics. I had never imagined that such an overwhelming number of people in India have no identity. So I immediately decided to take up this cause... I felt that as a celebrity I could be of tremendous help to bring the much needed awareness on the subject in the country to bring about a significant increase in birth registrations,'' the actor said.

Stating that this was the first time he had consented to be the brand ambassador for a cause in India, though he had been promoting many a social cause earlier too, Anil kapoor said, ''Some time ago, I was made the brand ambassador for South Africa. However, for me being a brand ambassador for a cause like Universal Birth Registration is indeed a privilege that cannot be matched by any honour.Instead of offering me a film, he (Govind Nihalani) asked me to be a part of this campaign. Having ssociated myself with the campaign, I can say that I am equally excited as I would have been in working on the cinematic venture with Govindji,'' the actor said. As part of his support to the UBR campaign by Plan India, Anil Kapoor will participate in selected UBR events, besides appearing for various television commercials supporting the campaign and for opportunities to raise awareness and visibility of the movement's mission. ''Whenever and whereever I am required to be present to boost the campaign, I will be willing to make myself available,'' the actor said.

Plan India's UBR campaign has been targetted to generate awareness in sattes like Tamil Nadi, Maharastra and Karnataka where mass media, including television and radio, have been used in a big way and in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, where grassroots mobilisation strategy is already resulting in increased registration levels. Plan India, as per the National Population policy, has set the goal of achieving 100 per cent registration of births. On the choice of Anil Kapoor, Govind Nihalani said, ''The need was to have an ambassador who himself believed in the message and had full commitment towards it. When celebrities lend their name to a cause, the public and the media take note. In this context, I am sure Anil Kapoor's support to the cause will help bring much-needed attention to the issue.'' Speaking on the occasion, Executive Director, Plan India, Bhagyashri Dengle said, ''Anil will bring about an immense amount of focus and attention with him. He sends the spotlight directly to the campaign, making it more effective and powerful... 100 per cent registration of children will help us better address the issues related to child labour, child marriage and trafficking.''

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