How Aamir Khan has put Modi sarkar in a spot

It would be awkward if the Centre issues advertisements of the 'Athiti Devo Bhava' campaign featuring the actor tomorrow in the media.

 |  3-minute read |   25-11-2015
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“(Wife) 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 make to me. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers everyday. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet...As an individual, as a citizen, certainly I have also been alarmed, I can’t deny it, by a number of incidents,” said Bollywood actor Aamir Khan at The Indian Express' Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in the capital on November 23.

Aamir, unlike Shah Rukh Khan, who also had made the "intolerant India" remark a few days ago, is not only a Hindi film actor. But he also holds an official position of the "brand Aambassador" for Union tourism ministry's crucial "Atithi Devo Bhava" campaign under the "Incredible India" bandwagon.

By issuing the controversial statement, Aamir has not only invited the ire of a large section of his own country people but also landed the Central government in a piquant situation. It would be awkward if the Centre issues advertisements of the campaign featuring Aamir tomorrow in the media. While many would find it amusing, others would simply mock the Modi government.

Holding the official post to promote tourism in the country on the one hand, and saying something which discourages tourists from visiting the country on the other cannot and should not go hand-in-hand. The two things are self-contradictory. It was in fitness of things that Aamir should have first resigned as brand ambassador's post before raising a flag over the alleged "growing intolerance" in the country. It reflects on Aamir's impropriety and dubious moral and ethical standards.

No one expects him to return his awards like Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan as some writers, scientists, Bollywood personalities and others have done. But propriety demanded that he stepped down from his brand ambassador's post before giving vent to his feelings which go against the grain of his official role.

The decision to appoint Aamir Khan as brand ambassador for the "Atithi Devo Bhava" (a guest is like god) campaign was taken on August 8, 2008 during the UPA regime, when Ambika Soni was the tourism minister. It aimed at promoting the ministry’s efforts, both for domestic and foreign tourists, through advertisement campaigns in print and electronic media, so as to increase social awareness about the needs of the domestic and foreign tourists specially women tourists.

Even though Aamir had signed a public petition in March 2005 against then prime minister Manmohan Singh for criticising the US over denial of visa to Narendra Modi, who was Gujarat chief minister then, the NDA government reposed faith in the actor. It not only retained him as Athiti Devo Bhava's brand ambassador but also entrusted him with more responsibilities in June this year.

But now, Aamir can be accused of not only embarrassing the country but has also letting the Central government down.


Kumar Shakti Shekhar Kumar Shakti Shekhar @shaktishekhar

Delhi-based journalist with more than 20 years of experience in reporting for print, TV & digital media.

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