On 9 September , a news report declared that British rock band Coldplay would perform in Mumbai, but the tickets would be priced between 25,000 and 5,00,000. Over the phone from New York City, Hugh Evans, CEO and co-founder of social action platform Global Citizen, confirmed that the organization’s annual music festival would be held in Mumbai this year and would have Coldplay as the opening act. The tickets, however, he stressed, would be mostly free and earned by taking part in effecting social change by performing tasks such as signing petitions and emailing authority figures asking them to change policies. An explanation of how to earn tickets is at the end of this story.

Evans says he doesn’t know where the Indian papers got their news about the ticket prices from. “The story was completely fabricated. Every Global Citizen show that we do, without fail, the majority of the tickets are for free. Someone must be making that, it’s so inaccurate. I woke up and thought, ‘Oh my goodness’."

The concert will be held at the MMRDA Grounds in Bandra-Kurla Complex, and 80% of the tickets will be earned while only 20% will be available to be bought as part of VIP packages, which will, probably, be extremely expensive. Limited tickets will be available on BookMyShow from 15 September.

In addition to Coldplay, American rapper Jay Z has been confirmed in the festival’s line-up, which also includes Indian musicians A.R. Rahman, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Arijit Singh, and actors Aamir Khan, Ranveer Singh, Katrina Kaif, Farhan Akhtar and Kareena Kapoor-Khan among others. More announcements are expected to be made.

We spoke to Evans about the model behind the Global Citizen Festival, its impact and why it’s coming to India. Excerpts from an interview:

What made you decide to hold the Global Citizen Festival in India this year?

Global Citizen as an organization has been very passionate about India. We’ve been following the rise of India for some time. I grew up in Australia and, as a kid, spent a year in India, in Dehradun in Uttrakhand. I was in Musoorie School and developed a great passion for India.

How did you go about bringing the show here?

We were very fortunate a few years ago when Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi came on stage at the Global Citizen Festival in New York. After that, about a year and a half ago, we brought Chris Martin from Coldplay (he’s also the festival’s creative director) to Delhi to meet with the prime minister and we started working intensively on bringing Global Citizen to India.

We partnered with a great local organization called The Global Education and Leadership Foundation (TGELF), founded by Shiv Khemka. We’ve been working intensely with them and with (event company) Wizcraft and so many others over the last year to try to bring this into being.

This festival has been announced as part of a 15-year campaign to mobilize social change in India. What is your focus?

PM Modi has championed the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) programme, and with that there’s been a lot of focus on water and sanitation. There’s also the Beti Bachao campaign that focuses on educating the girl child. Our focus in India is really on achieving sustainable development goals.

Last year, 193 leaders came together and committed to 17 sustainable development goals. The fourth goal is about universal access to education, the fifth is about gender equality and empowerment for girls and the sixth is about access to water and sanitation services. Our local partners, TGELF, decided that these were the most important goals for India, and we followed their lead.

Does this mean that the Global Citizen Festival will also be around for the next 15 years?

(Laughs) I can’t tell you about that yet, but I can say I hope so. The festival certainly doesn’t follow the traditional model of charity shows. Most concerts, you pay a bit of money, you rock out and then you forget about it. Whereas the whole principle of Global Citizen is that you have to earn your way in. That’s what makes us unique. If you look at Live8 or other charity concerts across the world, they were always done to raise money.

No amount of charity is going to end poverty; we actually have to change the system from keeping people poor. The only way we can change those systems is through building a movement.

How you can earn your ticket

Register at globalcitizen.in/en/ and start with participating in the first “Action Journey"—a set of activities that includes signing petitions and sharing them with friends on social media. These are tasks designed to aid Global Citizen’s larger goals of water and sanitation, quality education and gender equality. They will earn you points to qualify for the succeeding Action Journey —there are five such actions in the run up to the concert.

While most of the tasks are digital social activism, each stage is going to get harder than the earlier one. One stage requires physical volunteering. A new Action Journey will be announced every 10 days.

A ticket to the concert, however, will need a bit of luck as well. One needs to redeem the points to enter a lucky draw. The Global Citizen team will be guiding the participants through email regarding their status in terms of point and getting selected in the lucky draw.

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