Cornering / targeting
Cornering / targeting

The Repercussions of Voicing Oneself

Waking up with a mammoth of WhatsApp group conversations and images of silent protest propaganda as a gesture of disapproval against the thoughts of the Newsmaker, provokes me to dig deep into the intentions behind those words. Yes, I am referring to the statements of the Bollywood actor “Aamir Khan”.

A thought of insecurity of one family, is the talk of the nation. Over the past seventy two hours and more, there is only one English word “Intolerance” and only one news which is trending all forms of media and ruling all the conversations with our family, friends and colleagues. Surprisingly, even the school children, housekeeping & security workforce, the older generation, shopkeepers, milkman, bus conductors & drivers, etc., everyone has an opinion about this so called “news” of Aamir Khan and his family’s sense of insecurity.

During one of the press conference on 23rd November 2015, the Bollywood Actor, Aamir Khan voiced his thought as follows – “Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India? That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to do to me. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet”. Just like every other citizen of this country, Aamir Khan has also expressed his sense of insecurity and intolerance using the most simple, uncontroversial and modest words, straight from the heart.

In contrary to his words, the broadcast and digital media were successful in disorienting and dismantling the speech and blowing it completely out of proportion, for the most obvious reasons. A small act of freedom of speech and expression was enough for him to hit the screens in the early in the week and be the Newsmaker for the media channels, which in turn galvanized them to make ransom money. The most chaotic facet was when his speech was correlated to the dialogues and emotions of his artwork and was judged by the common man, celebrities, political personalities, etc., as a traitor, intolerant, unpatriotic, fake personality, and what not. This backlash signifies that how intolerant we are towards one’s emotions and thoughts and not how intolerant he is. Horrendously hilarious to even think that, how the media along with the audience has the massive proficiency to make a mountain out of a molehill within few seconds. After all the media masala added to his words, I hope he does not regret for sharing his thoughts and next time, I am sure he would think twice before expressing himself as an artist.

As I continue to research and read the conversations on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc., about the legendary Actor Aamir Khan, my mind avows him doggedly as an individual who has always strived to give back to our society in every way possible, whether it is through his movies, television shows or any other form of initiative for the betterment of the society. Condemning him with derogatory words is absolutely baseless.

With so much coverage on this news and manufactured opinions in various media platforms, your thoughts would have already gone to defame his work and personality, and also me as a writer for offending your views. Amidst this boiling of thoughts, I would appreciate if you could pause for a second and rethink and look at the other side of the coin.

It is a wretched sight to see the whole nation, and citizens of the nation residing around the world, being judgmental about him and his family, for no fault of theirs. Apparently there are two aspects that struck me very hard. One, for the very fact that he is a celebrity; we do not have any rights to target him and ruin his reputation at any cost. Second, what are we targeting him for? The sense of insecurity and intolerance? The worry towards the safety of his children? Is it not the talk of every family residing in this land? Is it not a worry for every parent towards their children of this land? Is he speaking anything that is not happening or which is not a concern of this nation? Why can’t a person express his woe towards the prevailing doleful situation of this nation, and still love the country? Who are we to judge his statement, linking to the religion he belongs follows? How is his spiritual cognizance pertaining to his insecurity of the nation? It is unfortunate to view that people who are judging him are the people who are going through this confusion round the clock.

Pause and ponder about this. Amidst us, are those fellow citizens, who feel insecure every day and minute and wish to leave this country and settle themselves in the foreign land? Among us are those, who want to give birth to our children in the foreign land because they feel unhygienic, unsafe, insecure and disrespectful if their child is born in India? So we do not have any authority or stature to question or condemn his worry, which is directly or indirectly worry of every individual of this nation. We are sailing in the same boat as his. Just that he had the courage to express his agony, without worrying about the consequences that would impact his reputation as a celebrity.

In India, there is a vast spread of the diffusion of dogmatism disease, ruining all our thoughts and attitude. Apparently we are setting a very bad example for the upcoming generations. This is a disease which needs to be eradicated from the roots, by keeping humanity the precursor of any religion, because no religion teaches an individual to be inhuman or discriminate the fellow individuals with race, caste, creed, sex etc.

Time we sojourn the war of words and blame game. Let’s stop fraternizing religion for every issue and brutally targeting the individuals. Let’s peep into ourselves and take measures to correct this thought. If today Aamir Khan, the most powerful and renowned celebrity is having a sense of insecurity within our country, it is time to realize the depth of the concern. It is a wakeup call, to not run away or force a person to leave the nation, rather clean the gutter of our house, make the person feel the warmth and comfort within our house.

9 Comments

  • Sridivya

    Mini you write well. But the content is not as plain n simple as it seems in my opinion. In the interview, some things are not said directly and you have to read between the lines…he is a superstar and he knows the impact of every remark he makes, so kindly go deeper and see the meaning and what he is trying to imply here. i saw Aamir’s interview too….I’d say he is a hypocrite…. Here’s why….He says there should be justice done in a fair way else there ll be a feeling of insecurity and if there are innocents affected then there should be proper punishment. On the contrary he went to congratulate his peer Salman Khan who came out on bail for the crime of running over an innocent poor guy…why? because he was a celebrity? Wer did Aamir’s satyameva jayathe instincts go then? And his intolerant state of mind permit to accept n encourage this is it?
    The irony is he is the brand ambassador of Incredible India who wants to escape instead of maturely tackling the situation. but if he wants to run away….the doors are open….just let him tell us which is the safer place in the world, infested with terrorists n criminals.

  • Venkat

    Aamirkhan made that open statement, logically that’s not an issue but when comes to the views amidst the very patriotic and sensitive public we have in India (not sure how many of them are true), that hurts. Here public never opened the mouth to blame this legendry actor just the silly medias for their daily bread and their so called customers who are putting the title in head as Bigshots.

    My advice is Aamirkhan need not worry about this, if he got irritated next time, What he should been have done? he should have simply created the meme and posted in FB, nobody cares. If anyone comes and asks he can simply answer them that his account got hacked, that how few of our many other native actors does.

    Caution: Dont try to post the defamation or derogatory comments regarding our nation <—(by the way this is for my safety)

  • Pramodh Raghuraman

    Not so simple. Its a wholly different thing if Mr. Aamir sat in his house and discussed this with a few friends. As a celebrity and a face of the Indian campaign on tourism, it is expected that the guy behaves with a little more responsibility that shoot his mouth. If he has so much problem with the country why does he still continue to be part of the Incredible India campaign.

    Let’s assume Mr. Modi actually hates the minority group. Can he come out in the open and say so. The answer is an emphatic no because of the position he holds and the repurcussions which it will have. So sometimes you cannot just mouth whatever you want with a ‘like i care’ attitude.

    And lastly can you actually explain to me what real threat this celebrity and his wife have which made his wife feel that way. I can accept if a Muslim in dadri said this. I would have still accepted an argument if he had said there are incidents happening which are not proper and our secular values must be respected. Because you are an actor, you don’t need to get theatrical.

    Freedom is never absolute Ila. Sometimes it needs to be handled with care. With great power also comes great responsibility. And frankly in my view he crossed the line.

    And it would be naive to think he does Satya me a jayate out of real concern of the nation. Sorry but changes in society don’t happen thru such masala shows. It is done by unassuming simple people far from the media glare and spotlight and on most occasions, never earns them a penny.

  • Cp

    Advent of Facebook and twitter has resulted in millions of armchair philosophers and vocal secularists. Fb is our generation tea kada bench 🙂 very few them actually do something for building the nation. For others it is more about getting likes. In a country of 110 crores it is not tough to get 50k protestors. So it is very easy to make a protest out of everything. Don’t waste your time and energy in analysing this further. There are better things to do in life 🙂

  • Sriram Sridharan

    Though media is trying to prepare tasty food for their own sake that could last for a couple of weeks, I would like to hold flag not against Mr.Aamir khan but his view specific towards this topic.

    1. A common man can’t gain attraction if he stands in public street but Mr.Aamir Khan will. Its same for voice too & even more. Forget about this topic. Anything that voices out from celebrities have more flavour. So they have all pros & cons of being a celeb for which they are liable too & also fact right?

    2. Its not using religion against him. If so, people in India would have decided to ban his Pk. Its all speaking how secular and comfortable we are and in no way he could blame of being here as no country is considered to be extremely safe.
    3. Rights to voice out Vs Morality:
    Some of our people could say its his freedom to voice out his thoughts. I very well agree we all have freedom to voice out that too being in a democratic country. But it doesn’t mean we can take it granted for any thing. Commenting about our country is not wrong. But is it really correct or needed one. Exaggeration is in place that takes everything to whole new level. And my opinion says that this issue fell under such kind of basket.

    Still if people (including Mr.Aamir khan) consider India is unsafe, gates are always open and also its their own willingness & nobody can stop. But before he/ anybody moves out its their duty to pay off what they need to / expected to pay for this lovely country.

  • Krupa

    This article is no doubt meant to raise concern over the issue and seems like an enthusiastic effort by you, Mini but it in my honest, practical opinion fails to hit the mark because and its not without its share of dogma, biased opinions and vehement emotion and does nothing to consider the reason for this to come up or consider other view-points fairly. In particular, there are these ironic issues with it that stand out and are begging to be recognized :

    1)Difference between a Casual Mention/ a Concerned Specific Address versus an Open Accusation on an entire country:
    As many people in the comments section have already noted in response to the sympathy the article evokes towards the mode of address: Aamir Khan is considered a high profile citizen and ironically India being a tolerant country values people’s opinions. He had raised his finger on many social issues through his TV show earlier. He built this image of himself as a concerned citizen which was received, appreciated even by a rather trusting public. Back then it was the voice of a citizen who wanted to muddle through issues as a fellow-citizen..as is implicitly expected of every other country man/woman. Almost all Indians of all caste/religion including me welcomed that attitude positively and with respect. (But in retrospect, looks like it was just a phase he was in. Now the comments he passed were not random household issue or casual mention, nor was it a sincere address of a clearly stated specific problem. It is a random baseless accusation and a blatant one at that because it is against a whole nation and without proper identification, specificity or to serve any real intention of problem solving. The same people who supported him earlier in his temporary noble intentions are now confused and offended by his stand mostly because of the irreverence and irresponsibility of a person with the image such as his. Also, to a practical, pragmatic Indian who cares about his/her nation the lack of specificity as to what intolerance was meted out to him/his family, the sweeping statements clearly made on a public stand in front of media point towards generation/propagation of some sort of propaganda, paranoia.No matter whatever issue he faced he clearly blamed the country for it and he implied intolerance extended to specific group. He is clever enough to be very well aware that it will reach all Indians and that was what he intended it to be when he spoke on a media platform and for the afore said reasons. If we cannot discern a publicized statement with neighborly discussion, a clear accusatory statement with a constructive appeal/address to change a country’s issues then we are in serious denial.It is clear to a pragmatic Indian its the former in this case.

    2) Why the sheer surprise with the repercussions when a public figure such as Aamir Khan speaks with the intention of being heard?
    When an accusation is propagated and is not backed by reasoning or substantiation it becomes baseless, questionable and the person propagating the same loses credibility. People reacted with responses to this accordingly with opinions they are entitled to and mostly used channels of intellectual discussion like social media etc. Since he sweepingly addressed an entire nation, the people of a democratic republic with freedom of speech responded. Some responses are that of shock or disgust and understandably so especially by those people who actually admired/respected him, went to his movies(contributing to his career growth) and felt deceived by his lack of trust in his own people/country.

    3)What Intolerance? Against whom exactly? Comprehending intolerance in true sense in today’s world &
    4)Not a Caste/Religion issue as much as Nationalism, Patriotism, Ethical issue:
    As stated earlier, neither the millions of discussions so far nor this article has shed definitive light on what intolerance exactly he was referring to where its stemming from. Personally I have stayed in many countries for various amounts of time, studied cultures, faced various challenges abroad. If you respect others experiences, I can tell you that I know for a fact how tolerant India is compared to almost all others. India is tolerant to a fault. In other countries in order to rise above or stay in par with the majority or be treated as equal a person of minority has to overcome so many additional hurdles.Most don’t get similar opportunities and have to expend way too much effort, go through a lot of hardships a person of the majority usually doesn’t have to. And for him to complain about intolerance is sheer ridiculousness..If India were intolerant, people like him would not be more successful than his peers and would be forced into mediocrity and decreased opportunity despite having talent. Which was not the case with him or others like him. Most other countries shun immigrants, make it harder for them to achieve success comparable to even less qualified locals, impose open religion-based checks and the on-goings of terrorism in the world are forcing them to do so.India still remains magnanimous treating everyone equally. The proof lies in how successful, rich our man in question is. People wouldn’t have tolerated minorities to rise or get this far had intolerance been the norm.
    Also, if the general public are reprimanded by a blog (from another one of the public) for sharing their views/voicing their concerns via comments in public forums are you only okay with high profile Mr.Khan voicing his opinion and not others? Doesn’t your title satisfy a kind of double standard meted out to all people of the country who are entitled to a response to a very public statement pertaining to the country?
    A celebrity singer made a casual comment (actually in a kind/funny way) about the country in a TV show here in the US and he was immediately removed from the show and faced public ire. US is a very liberal country where people speak freely about all topics and yet seeming unpatriotic comments face severe backlash in any successful/progressive country. He rendered a public apology to be reinstated into the show.No other country, no successful institution will take such ungrateful statements lightly and no thinking, thriving public can be expected to not feel hurt or offended.
    As a liberal Hindu I follow Hinduism in my own passive way. But even so from a personal viewpoint, I found Mr. Khan’s PK movie blasphemous and targeted Hinduism directly. Had it been a general anti-religion, anti-corruption movie across the board it would have still sat well with me. My sentiment and dignity as well as of those similar to me who are peaceful followers of Hinduism was hurt.But as a tolerant Indian I still let it go even though because the media had already dogmatized any dignified Hindu as a Hindu terrorist/radical. Most Indian public just tolerated many such mass propaganda movies and even throw away cash on them disrespecting their own belief systems. But India and Indians being tolerant they spoke up this time..only when the issue was of nation, its dignity, basic ethics of a citizen was blatantly in question.Its not so much as the fact that he said something that people have issues with..it is the content of his statements that has people clueless, irritated, and frustrated.I think the actual problem is misidentified as being a caste/religion issue as opposed to what it truly is..one related to basic duty & ethics towards a country

    4) Lots of irony, double standards:
    So Amir Khan can use his image, public profile to make an open-ended public statement which is supposed to reach the audience all over and is about the country coz he is entitled to voice it. But the people are not supposed to voice it and the author writes up a blog against their voices condemning them for their opinions/expression. Why? Coz they are not high-profile ‘ powerful’ enough? I cannot get over the hollowness and ridiculousness of the following conclusive statement of the article: “If today Aamir Khan, the most powerful and renowned celebrity is having a sense of insecurity within our country, it is time to realize the depth of the concern”
    So, is Aamir Khan’s opinion the basis/yardstick for the entire nation’s moral/ethical scale and the very definition of right/wrong?
    On the one hand the author states that the actor’s comments have been over-exaggerated/hyped while the conclusive statements prompt all Indian citizens- individuals like her,you and me to reconsider our ways, our rationale and ethics because he being such a powerful Indian has questioned it!!!
    If anybody the poor people of the country, people who were victims of terrorism , people who sleep on sidewalks who get run over in the night by rich, drunk celebrities are facing intolerance. We don’t see them complain about and blame it on the country..Oh wait the media and all its sympathizers and all the pseudo-intellectuals are busy voicing the opinions of rich and powerful celebrities who own a mountain, who can choose to relocate anywhere in the world after making enough money, who can hire bodyguards!

    Lastly, the blog itself doesn’t actually use a tolerant tone incorporating/addressing diverse views, respectful and sensitive to other’s opinions. While the larger public is accused of being judgmental, the blog’s content is judgmental of many individuals and questions their rational judgment and dismisses them straightaway.

  • This topic has spread it’s wings and has started flying in so many directions. Is it about religion, is it about the country, or is it about an individual? Or maybe it’s a combination of all the three.

    So what exactly was the trigger? The fact that Aamir Khan (a famed celebrity) said that he (a muslim) feels insecure staying in India (a Hindu country). So, people have latched onto just those four words, celebrity, muslim, India and hindu. Now let’s see if the statement has any merit. So is our society (Indian society) intolerant?

    Gender intolerance
    Do I even need to start. India is literally becoming the rape capital. Are women feeling secure about going out, of course the fuck not. This chart does not even do justice to the terror of what women in India go through in their daily lives. Enough said, moving on.

    Religious intolerance
    * The USCIRF report on the religious freedom in India: “The Muslim community in India also has experienced increased harassment and violence. It faces significant hate campaigns perpetrated by Hindu nationalist groups and local and state politicians that include widespread media propaganda accusing Muslims of being terrorists; spying for Pakistan; forcibly kidnapping, converting, and marrying Hindu women; and disrespecting Hinduism by slaughtering cows.”
    * Activists killed in the name of religion: Narendra Dabholkar, Dr. MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansara.
    * Activists who have a death threat on them: Sanal Edamaruku, Perumal Murugan
    * The latest being, that of a muslim man lynched in Dadri for eating beef.
    * NCERT textbook saffronisation: An article from NDTV

    The above are just few examples any common man can search up and find in the last couple of years. Personally everyone’s covering their ass to even post their mind on Facebook now a days. The number of arrests over “apparently” inciteful posts have gone up exponentially in the past few years. Saffron terrorism has increased, all the way from molesting couples in mangalore to a lot more muscle and mean power. We all know enough about green terror, so I’m not going to expand on that. But that really is not just restricted to India, it’s wide spread across the world.

    Caste intolerance
    Oh, where do I start. This is a whole new level of shitty ocean on it’s own.
    * Untouchables still exist
    * Caste based honor killings still exist
    * Caste is still THE most important factor at an Indian wedding and the most important factor contributing towards Dowry.

    Racial intolerance
    Talk to any foreigner who has visited India, especially if he has a darker complexion than us. The washington post was not even a surprise to many who already knew that India was one of the most racially intolerant countries in the world.

    And beyond this we’ve disability discrimination (when exactly did you see a ramp up to a store in India last?).
    So if it’s true, then why did it cause such a big backlash! Simple, no one wants to be told that they are a bully. A bully simply bullies more when being called out. So let’s be straight about it, the anger simply is an entire nation’s pride being hurt on being called out for being a racist, religiously intolerant bully.

    Now here is the fact. A part of the nation being a scum does not mean we all are. Just as the ISIS does not imply every Muslim being a murderous psycho(I’ve lovely muslim friends, who I respect in spite of their quirks ;)), so too does this not imply anything bad on us individually. So first thing to do is to stop taking it personally.

    Free speech is the one paramount quality towards a healthy society. There is a reason why we are all drawn towards free countries, where there is emphasis given towards free speech. The number of atrocities against writers in India is inching it’s way towards Saudi, North Korea. And we all know the kind of life one gets here. And all the Gods cannot save us if we do get there.

    In a world filled with hate and terror, the only response that makes any sense is love. It is easy to hate, and bully and show our power. But the only response that is going to sustain our universe for our children is to teach people to love and to lead by an example. Race, sex, caste, religion, country are all but a barrier in our minds and hearts. I hope that my dearest and loved ones show out just how much love they can show, not just to their compatriots, but to people of other religion and to other countries.

    We are a pale blue dot alone in a vast and endless galaxy. We have only each other to survive this journey. What may come after this journey, we do not know. But we know that for this journey, we have only mankind. Acceptance is the start towards any redemption. I’ll clear the floor as this will be my last word on this topic.

  • Shilpa

    A very insightful write up. Kudos to the author. Being a mother isn’t an easy job and particularly when my daughter goes to school in a bus,(with the kind of events that gets reported) it is a nightmare to complete my day until she comes home safe. One might tell me, if you are so scared go drop her to school yourself or homeschool her. Easier said than done, not everybody is in my shoes to see what I go through. As a citizen of this country, yes am scared when I step out thinking of the random number of events that could happen to me (for eg: I could be killed in an ATM, this has happened before to a citizen of this country). I am scared till my husband comes home safe. Safety is an issue and I have accepted that fact. Like many other middle class families we have at times considered moving to a different country too. For reasons not only concerning security, for other benefits that would come along for my family. An acquaintance once told me that USA was a better place to live as security is their priority. Agreed. Then how do many foreign nationals living in that country get killed or shot at. So security is an issue in every country not just India. Because we are living in this part of the world, it becomes our responsibility to take care of this place with care. And definitely people living in the USA will take care of that country. Of course fear comes when there is unrest, coz we are in this part of the world and coz we are citizens of this country we fear for its citizens.
    Intolerance is a very big word. If I was tolerant in my house when I attained my puberty, I wud have been sitting in a corner of a room, feeling like an untouchable person. Because that’s what my mom told me to do. Sit in a corner, don’t touch anything, else everything will become untouchable and we would have to clean it again. She gave me religious reasons, which I didn’t understand for it did not make any logical sense to me. She even terrorised me in the name of god. I would rather be treated a human first than something else. This monthly period that happens to every woman is natural and in many parts of our country people still treat woman like a shit during her monthly cycle. So what if this demeans us as humans, we are tolerant as a country and should be one. (Nothing to do with feminism, just humanity expected).
    Media played Aamir khan’s four words repeatedly on all the possible channels but never reported or showed the whole interview.
    There is insecurity and let’s face it. Just because we keep saying we are tolerant doesn’t make us one. We are intolerant, else why would everybody spring up giving their opinion and condemning (even filing a case) against Aamir Khan? It just goes to prove the four broken words and misconstrued statement a citizen of this country made was true. Why tag a religion just because one can?
    Let that man be and let’s see how as citizen of this country can we contribute towards making it a safe place for ourselves and our future generations to come. I guess this job is easier than mud slinging. It’s a small world let’s make it habitable. I guess we all are civilized enough to understand that much and not take things personally.

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