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Bucket Challenged

You’ve been sleeping under a rock if you haven’t heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge yet. This viral phenomenon has taken the internet by storm, with people from all walks of life emptying a bucket of ice and water over their heads. For the benefit of the uninitiated, here’s a gist of what it’s all about.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is exactly what it sounds like. If nominated for the challenge, you are required fill a bucket with ice and/or cold water and empty it right over your head, OR donate a certain amount of money towards researching the cure to ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. (Although, participants can do both.) After completing the challenge, you can upload the video to a social networking site of your choice while nominating 3 others to take up the challenge and donate.

The challenge had been doing the rounds earlier this year, but in small numbers and under different names, (such as the Cold water challenge, Polar plunge etc.) for various causes, and mostly local charities in the US. But when golfer Chris Kennedy did the challenge and nominated his cousin, whose husband suffered from ALS, only then did the challenge specifically take shape for this cause.  ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a progressive disease resulting in loss of muscle mass. Basically, those who suffer from ALS gradually lose their ability to control movement of their own body.


This video awareness challenge has all the qualities required of a viral social media trend.

  • It’s short. A minute at the maximum, because social media doesn’t have the time for anything longer.
  • It’s fun and funny. Dousing yourself in freezing water, and then watching your friends and favorite celebrities doing the same? Can’t imagine a better way to spend the afternoon.
  • It’s all for a good cause. Some people argue that philanthropy through social obligation isn’t right, but hey, charity is charity, even if it’s just to make yourself look good.

As with all hit Hollywood movies, or newest tech gadgets, the Ice bucket challenge too, migrated to the Indian subcontinent a little while after the rest of the world. Even though the Ice Bucket Challenge enjoyed the same virality and participation here in India, a few aspects of the challenge seemed to have gotten lost in translation. It’s alright to adapt an idea to suit your particular region, but it’s imperative that you do it right, not simply subtracting the parts that you don't like, or in this case leaving out the defining aspect of the entire challenge. The ice bucket challenge turned into some sort of a game, an interesting summer fad of standing on your terrace and posing for the camera. ALS sometimes featured, and sometimes it didn’t.

While it’s amazing that the ALS Association (ALSA) has received this overwhelming attention and support, there is no denying that ALS is listed as a comparatively rare disease even in the US, more so in India, which I found out while trying to find an organization I could donate to within the country. Except, wait, there isn’t one.

More people die of hunger in this country than ALS. I’m in no way trying to devalue the problems related to ALS and its cure, but if there is a way to have a bigger impact, on an issue closer to home, it would probably give more satisfaction. Enter, the Rice Bucket Challenge.

Riding on the success of the Ice Bucket challenge, this particular challenge requires you to donate a bag/bowl of rice to someone who does have the means, following which you can upload a picture of the act. True, this has a short termed effect, but if it could possibly inspire something more permanent, it would all be worth it. This has picked up traction in few of the metropolitan cities including Chennai, and we should all try and keep it going!

As for the other bucket challenges out there, (book bucket, movie bucket, veneer bucket etc.), um… one too many, that are popular already and don’t make much sense. What bucket? It isn't exactly much of a challenge to list 10 books.

 We shouldn’t let these mutated versions overshadow the actual motive behind the original bucket challenge! Ice bucket or Rice bucket, what matters is the spirit of donating and spreading awareness!


Tagged in : Events, Ashwini Velmurugan, News and views, Archana Senthilkumar,