Kanwal Toor compiles reactions from London-based Indians to Aamir Khan’s statement on intolerance in India
“When I chat with Kiran at home, she says ‘Should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day”. – Aamir Khan
Is this the voice of a normal Indian living in uncertainty and fear in a country they call home? Aamir Khan spoke clearly on the theme of fear as a consequence of two themes: What’s going on and whether our elected representatives make us feel safe or not.
What’s going on? A nation now called An Emerging Super Power with China or a nation filled with incidents of rape, growing communal disharmony and diminishing tolerance?
Whether or not our elected representatives make us feel safe is analogised with what’s going on. Is it possible that elected representatives who are driving India towards supremacy, economic and political prowess are making its very own people insecure? Isn’t that ironical?
Comments that Aamir and Kiran made are being dissected like a doctor would dissect a snake with pre-established dispositions and premises. Because he is a celebrity and his opinion must be heard – and our opinion of what he says are based on his last movie? Or these reactions are indeed REAL. Are Normal Indians, the aam janta feeling intimidated? Are few of the poor souls quaking in their boots? Or all of this is just hogwash, a squawk for the minorities. I spoke to a few Indians living in London. And this is what they had to say.
Savi S Arora, Political Commentator: Sadly, the rise of the RSS in India is fuelling fear. That problem is main reason why people, are increasingly cynical about the current political environment.
Banti Khyberman – Poet, Businessman: Aamir is correct. He is getting a backlash because he is a high profile celebrity. Sectarian violence has always been happening in India. It’s only being highlighted now. He is echoing the feelings of lot of people in India. We have to remember when you are a minority any swagger at you looks like an offence. Also most definitely Hindus are riding a wave currently which can come across as arrogance.
Tony Patti – Radio presenter: It’s important that attention & awareness is raised towards intolerance in India. The fact that people are also highlighting means that it will surely capture the attention of the biggest democracy in the world which is India. Time will tell how the media, the world and the political climate will react to this.
Namita Jetley, Housewife: India is the most secular country. It depends on the class how you react to situations. Amir Khan is an affluent man with a high profile. How any changes might affect him I don’t understand? Moving to another country wouldn’t solve any problem as they will still be considered an outsider anyway.
Sukhvinder Gill – Financier: Aamir Khan has exaggerated to make a point. I think to shock & awe. That’s not to say the point is incorrect. It certainly needs an airing. He can’t be the only one feeling this way. We living abroad do see these headlines and should sympathise to his point.
The debate of secularism, human rights and atrocities will not die down soon. But we need to focus on progress. Pre-conceived notions and wounds from historical incidents (which of course are hard to forget) will have to be abandoned. Today the Indian economy is expected to grow at 7.8 per cent in FY 2015-16 and 8.2 per cent in FY 2016-17, as per the forecast by Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows have increased 40 per cent during April-June this year to reach US$ 9.06 billion. India is today one of the world’s fastest growing economies. By 2030, India will become the world’s third largest economy with projected GDP (PPP) at $13,716 bn. None of these figures represent the Hindus only or the Muslims. They reflect today’s India. We shouldn’t let divisiveness come in the way of a good-life, welfare and triumph. Now is our chance and we should fight for it. The government needs to respect fairness and the people of this great nation need to respond with reprieve.
(Kanwal Toor is a social activist based in London and a former Miss India International)