By Sadhavi Khosla:
This term has become a hot potato in India for the past couple of months.
The dictionary defines ‘Intolerance’ as “Unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own.”
So, are we Indians actually intolerant? Or is it that we have been tolerating this nuisance of intolerance for quite some time now?
When Aamir Khan expressed his astonishment over the statement made by his wife to leave the country, it stirred a storm on social media. Why?
Why is it difficult for people to leave a statement just the way it is meant to be? Why this over-pouring of reactions? Those who themselves are a part of the film fraternity, along with many overenthusiastic social media users, and hyperactive politicians, took no time to accredit the much ‘revered’ superstar of yesterday, as the “anti-national, anti-Hindu, anti-Modi, anti-BJP” Muslim of today!
To further deteriorate the situation, the media houses of our beloved country left no stone unturned to drive more ratings from this grist for the gossip mill, fuelling the controversy successfully with their allegations and denunciations.
I ask you – does this sort of blatant exaggeration of opinions fit the bill for the modern India? Is this what we need today?
Perhaps, yes! Simply because, some media channels only show us what we love to see (and here I am referring to media sensationalisation).
But, there is another side to the story.
It is not that Aamir Khan endorsed the fact that his wife wants to leave the country, and he is giving his consent. He just stated that his wife feels insecure in this country, which is sad, and that is exactly what it is!
The hate campaigns against Aamir Khan reveal that the problem does not lie in expressing what you feel, but it lies in the fact that if you are a dominant personality in a country, your words can hit harder than the bullets of the terrorists.
I remember that when Shah Rukh Khan spoke about intolerance, last month, he was even asked to go to Pakistan. The same has happened with Aamir, but the magnitude of people’s outrage is even worse this time.
When veteran actors like Anupam Kher posted tweets to Aamir like, “Did you tell her (Kiran) that this country has made you Aamir Khan?”, it took the situation to another tangent altogether.
If this country has made him what he is today, then we don’t really need talent and hard work to make it big in Bollywood, I presume.
We should not underestimate the talent of Aamir as an actor. Till last week, he was an actor who was praised highly for his work, and in a couple of days he has become somebody who was made a star only by India’s populace.
People should never forget the fact that the prime motive of movies is to entertain us. If movies or stars become famous, it is simply because they entertained us. We, in no way, do a favour to make a movie or a star successful.
However, I do believe that without the unconditional support and love that the country’s citizens extended to the Khans, they might not have reached this pinnacle of success.
But, there is a huge difference between ‘love’ and ‘favour’. The former is given without even asking, and the latter is given when someone asks for it.
And, I think Aamir surely didn’t ‘ask’ us to make him a star! Or, did he?
India is a highly volatile country, which has millions of emotionally charged people. When compared to the rest of the world, our nation is certainly a minority friendly nation. In fact, it is one of the very few nations wherein people have the right to practice their own religions and faiths without any fear.
On the other hand, religion in India has always been an explosive subject, and it has been used as a weapon to bring politics into various issues of the nation. With his statement, Aamir (a Muslim) became the reason of indignation for many right wing Hindu politicians, who were mostly a part of the ruling government.
Resorting to aggressiveness, politicians did not deter to spew venom and made sweeping statements, leaving all logic behind.
Let’s take the example of the BJP MP and Hindutva leader Yogi Adityanath who I believe has become quite confident in taking dirty digs at others, following the footsteps of his contemporaries Kailash Vijayvargiya, Sadhvi Prachi and Sakshi Maharaj.
When Shah Rukh Khan talked about the growing intolerance in the country, Yogi Adityanath compared him to Pakistani terrorist and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
Is this the kind of tolerance that we, as a nation, have?
Why are the superstars of the nation, who bring our country international acclaim, being asked to leave the country where they have taken birth?
Is it because they shared their opinions out loud in the public, or is it because they belong to Islam?
I want to ask these leaders one question – if Amitabh Bachchan makes such a statement on the increasing insecurity in the nation, then will he be slammed in the same manner? Or, in that case, being a Hindu would act in favour of the mega star?
Why has the Prime Minister failed to address these fringe elements of his party? When it comes to disturbing the peace of his own land, his party members seem to be quite active at it! Why don’t they show the same aggression in working towards the betterment of the nation?
I wish I could term all this as tolerance, but deep within my heart I know it is not!
The AwardWapsi revolution that quivered the country late October this year, against the murder of Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi, and against the questionable selections being done at elite government-run institutes in the country, has been taken ahead to the road of App Wapsi.
First of all, I would like to state that the act of Award Wapsi, in my personal opinion, is something which is politically motivated. These awards are presented to eminent personalities by the government for their outstanding work in their respective fields. By returning these awards, they not only showcased their resentment towards the government, but also disrespected it.
There are various ways of protesting against the issues that concern the nation. When personalities of high stature return their awards, as a gesticulation of protesting against the government, it does not do any help to the nation. Such distinguished public figures should understand that they are the brand ambassadors of their respective professions, and with the act of returning their awards, they not only demean the government, but also those who support these celebs for their exceptional work in their chosen fields.
This entire rumpus has now made its way to “App Wapsi” with the altercation ensued by Aamir. As ridiculous as it may be, many people across the country are fixated with the bum rap so much so that they want others to uninstall Snapdeal’s mobile application from their mobile devices, merely because Snapdeal is being endorsed by Aamir Khan.
Well, this is the level of tolerance of our intolerant India!
Social media might seem to be a boon for us, but it has its own flaws, and being too negative is its greatest flaw. The social media savvy generation does not think twice before relying on unfounded information and before making generalizations and forming opinions.
While the country has several people who sieve information at impulse, without going into the crux of the matter; there are many who don’t even bother to think that with their reactions, they are just proving the point – that they are intolerant.
Many people showered their rain of thoughts on Facebook and Twitter as soon as the news about Aamir’s statement broke. But, there would be very few amongst us who actually cared to see what Aamir really said and listen to his statements, instead of counting on hearsay.
The hardliners in the BJP party took no time to pass lewd remarks, giving a ‘reaction’ to Aamir’s statement that he wants to leave the country. But, wait! When did he say that?
If you watch the entire interview, he just expressed the fear that had been there in his wife’s mind for the past few months.
His exact words were:
“I think in the last may be six months, eight months, there has been a growing sense of despondency, I would say. I mean, when I sit at home and talk to Kiran, you know, Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India, for the first time Kiran says, ‘should we move out of India?’ Now, that’s a disastrous and very big statement for Kiran to make to me.
She fears for her child, she fears for, you know, what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers everyday. So, that does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet and there is a sense of despondency, apart from alarm. There is one part of it is alarm, there is another part – you feel depressed. You know, you feel low. You feel, you know, why is this happening? So, that sense does exist in me, to be quite honest.”
Now, here what people had very conveniently overlooked is the crucial point where the actor expressed shock and surprise when his wife put forth the idea of leaving the country due to growing insecurity.
Let’s just face it – all of us have qualms and doubts and we express it to others. But does it lead to protests by the countrymen?
So, why people are burning the effigies of the Khans and pledging to boycott their movies?
Trolling on social media sites and garnering the attention of international media by making a mockery of our own people – what is it that we actually want to achieve?
The international media has any and every reason to tarnish the image of the country, whose own citizens are willing to fight over petty issues – as if the country already does not have important issues to sort out!
Our respected PM has failed to understand that this tarnished image of our country in the international sphere will result in a decline of foreign investment, an important goal which the current government has its focus on.
In India, we do everything in extreme – either we shower or love to the celebs in extreme, or we detest them for what they feel and that too in extreme!
We are not perfect. No nation is perfect, for that matter.
Like every individual on this planet Earth, every country is fighting its own battle, and dealing with its own difficulties and insecurities.
While we can see ISIS making Europe its victim today, there is not much to say about a country’s safety and its citizens’ insecurity. There are many who feel unsafe in the United States, the Middle East, and rest of the countries.
And, so do us!
It is not just Kiran Rao who gets the thoughts of leaving the country, even we have thought about it, many a times. But, this does not mean we have left our country, or are going to! It does not make us less of a patriotic citizen of India. It does not deter us from standing tall with the likes of right-wing extremists who claim to love this nation the most.
However, I truly believe that those who are loved by millions should respect the sentiments of the public and refrain from making any political statement that can go wrong – thanks to the ‘mature’ media of our country! For I know that many of the mainstream, professional media persons will not think twice before sensationalising any statement that comes from the mouth of the luminaries, just for the sake of high TRPs!
So, Aamir and others in the film or entertainment industry should focus on one thing – their work.
I hope that this tolerance of intolerance in the country ends soon…
And with it, should end our tolerance of being a target of media – each time, every time!