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Aamir Khan's 'Intolerance' Remarks - The Argumentative Indian

Aamir's views - what he said or what he did not say - are a non-issue. At least relative to the decibel levels of social media, his voice is at best a mild squeak.

What stuck in my psyche in the whole shouting match is the title of a book by another Indian icon 'The Argumentative Indian'. When Dr Amartya Sen gave this title - he loosely meant the habit to weigh ones arguments in a group, thus leading to a higher level collective wisdom (or thats the impression I got when I read the book). However 'argumentative' that I am talking about is of arguing for the heck of it - i.e. the 'quarrelsome types' - without listening and without heeding to facts.

Firstly, Aamir did not say he wanted to leave. Only his wife was making a suggestion. The only sane argument against Aamir (even if the idea leaving India crossing the mind can be considered to be a blasphemous idea) would have been to sell out his wife :), by making an innocuous private conversation public. Especially knowing the hysteria won't to Indian media, political parties and 'intellectuals'.

Secondly, the hysteria attached of one celebrity wanting live abroad - runs counter to facts and is not consistent with reaction is similar situations. I will run through some of them. One, most Indians who found Ms Rao's view unpatriotic, would be having at least one close friend or family member staying abroad and am sure they do not find that unpatriotic. Two, Indian legends have in the past lived abroad but were not subject to such harsh comments. I can think of Amritraj brothers, Prakash Padukone and Vishy Anand. Large number of successful and adored Indian entrepreneurs live in Singapore and USA. These people have contributed much more to the Indian tricolour, confidence, pride and rupee than most of billion plus who have stayed back. So wanting to stay in India or leave the shores - have nothing to do with a sense belongingness. Three, one more fact worthy of mention. Post the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi in the 1980s, her grandchildren fearing security, did not go back to elite schools in Dehradun; instead they got themselves admitted to haloed portals in Europe. Worth adding that, most Indians who live abroad connect with India and reach out to India (like reading local news, donating to charitable causes, observing Indian festivals) lot more than many people who stay back.

Thirdly, India didn't make Aamir. He has made himself with the dint of his hard and smart work. He has created wealth and jobs. He had brought smiles to viewers. There would have been no QSQT or Ghulam or Lagaan  - well there wouldn't have been this fracas without Lagaan too ;); or many other movies for that matter without him. Yes Billion plus people surely helped. That is the reason will continue to make movies for Indian public. Also, in case he gets to spend more time in the West and starts focussing on Hollywood - he may end up winning the Oscar.  This will certainly do the tri-colour proud. And will rake in more brownie points more dollars for India than a dozen more Bollywood hits. I would like to stick my neck out a say; he is male actor past and present - who is most likely to win the Best Actor Oscar.

Where he stays is hardly the matter. What matters to me most, that he is a great human being and pursues excellence passionately. Whether he stays in India or not, he will continue to be a great human being and will continue to pursue excellence in his work. He will give joy to billions through his movies and inspire many of us to excel inner chosen professions.

Fourthly, and most importantly, Aamir was merely introducing a point. He was not sharing his co-ordinates. Unfortunately he said it in a manner that created so much drama (am sure he would have put it differently, had he had a whiff of the social media deluge). Even more unfortunately, the Indian 'intellectuals' latched on to the preface and missed out on (did not listen to) the moot point. The point is he was participating in a debate. Raising an important point - in the manner of Dr Sen's 'Argumentative Indian' is the point to laud. We may or may not agree with his observations or fears; but the point is that it is a raging point with two sides with equally cogent arguments is difficult to miss. The moot is that we must, participate in this debate in a mature manner and take the collective wisdom of the society to a higher level.


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