When I was growing up the only celebrities we knew of were actors, singers, professional sportsmen and charismatic politicians ( a breed that seems to have died with Rajiv Gandhi).
As satellite dishes mushroomed across the city, lunch time talk veered from Rajni and Kamal to the shennanigans of the residents of Santa Barbara (known to our grandmothers as Shaantha Barbra) and the forever 16 residents of Beverly Hills 90210.
Fastforward to 2005. The term celebrity seems to have undergone more changes then Cher's face. In India, film stars and cricketers have been forced to share the limelight with the likes of Shefali something or the other, the secretary every one wants - Rakhi Savant and a random mix of socialites, fashion designers and lifestyle gurus.
But one phenomenon that has yet to splash itself all over Indian papers is the reality TV celebrity. Now I'm not talking about Indian Idol winners or those whiny kids from MTV Roadies. I'm talking about the likes of Abi Titmuss (I swear that's her name), Kinga, Kate Lawler and Vanessa Feltz. Names every proud British citizen worth his/her crumpet knows.
These people have all at some time or the other won, been a part of or been humiliated on a reality show. They have no talent other than the ability to let millions of people tune in every week and watch them eat, bathe or fornicate with bugs. And they all have managed to cash in on their few seconds in the spotlight.
Take for example Ms. Titmuss. After a high profile relationship with another vague Brit celeb, she went on to appear in The Sun and Daily Mail giving interviews about her ex-love. She then began to appear in a number of lads' magazines with very very little on (earning every inch of her last name). Ms Titmuss is now a regular on shows like 'I'm a celebrity get me out of here' and more recently 'Celebrity Love Isalnd'
Now I don't have a problem with the fact that these people have made money and earned fame from simulating sex with an inflated doll. So why have I been going on and on?
A recent survey of girls aged between 9-15 in the UK revealed that more than 60% of them thought being a celeb reality show participant was good career choice. Lap dancing came in at number two followed by being a glamour model (i.e posing topless for The Sun). Many of them mentioned Jordan and Abi Titmuss as role models.
And the thing is many Brits I mentioned this to found it amusing. And didn't see that 10-15 years from now their country wouldn't have enough teachers and doctors to serve society. Something that will no doubt force them to reach out even more to their former colonies for skilled professionals.
So how outrageous is the idea that England's immigrant numbers are in someway linked to thong clad celebs ? Perhaps Mr Blair should ask Ms Titmuss to button up.