A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

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 Aamir Khan’s statement is neither hyperbolic nor motivated

ACTOR Aamir Khan chipped in on the debate over intolerance and expressed alarm and despondency over the rise in such cases in the last six to eight months. Khan added poignancy and alacrity to his assertions and further stated, “(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 every day. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet,” he said.

The context to Aamir Khan’s assertions is the growing chorus over intolerance and actual incidents of violence in India. The most prominent of these that hogged the headlines are the Dadri lynching of an elderly Muslim man and the murderous arson attack on a Kashmiri trucker. The former was mobbed and lynched over rumors of having stored beef in his house and the latter after the beef ban controversy erupted in Kashmir. Both were innocent victims of a whipped up mob frenzy; not isolated, vigilante attacks that could be brushed aside as aberrations.

While there has been a wide ranging response to Aamir Khan’s assertions — ranging from the churlish and rude to the sober — Khan’s statements should focus and concentrate the minds of sober and thoughtful people.

Deconstructed, Aamir Khan’s statement is neither hyperbolic nor motivated.

Khan’s expression of alarm and then despondency is carefully thought out. He is a Muslim, in fact, a celebrity Muslim that many sections of the media have not ceased to tout as being representative of India’s secular and plural polity. Given the ubiquity of Aamir Khan and other assorted Khans in Bollywood and their celebrity nature, these people were inevitably plum pickings for propaganda and presenting a distorted picture of the Muslim condition in India. It needs to be pointed out here that the abysmal Muslim condition in India has been well documented to belabor any further discussion on Muslims in the country. Aamir — being an astute person — appears to know and understand his status and stature; hence the bombshell he drops. The propagandists have ‘egg on their face’. But this is not the main or major point of Aamir Khan’s assertions. It is more profound.

Essentially, Khan’s statements appear to be in the nature of a plea and need for course correction and review of the contemporary thrust and drift of the country’s polity and politics. It is not rocket science to understand and feel the undercurrents of multiple transitions that India is contemporarily undergoing. The major and the most significant transition is the ‘work in progress’ metamorphosis of the nature of the country’s polity and its politics. The premise of this metamorphosis is the political ideology that seeks to revert India to its ‘Hindu essence’. Admittedly reductive as all ideologies are, this ideology also seeks to ‘purify’ India of accretions and allegedly alien ideas and themes. Broken down and rudely stated, it seeks to cleanse India which, among other things, means the rule of the majority, a second or third class status for minorities especially Muslims and a more aggressive and chauvinistic posture-within and without. Or, in other words, a wholesale transformation and mutation of the idea of India – a new India of India that is Hindu in nature and essence.

This is the broad philosophical tour de force of the this ideology termed as Hindutva. The rest is mere corollary. That is, pedestrian application and crystallisation of this ideology into the entrails of the state, polity and society in India. Axiomatically, the fallout and consequence of all this would be intolerance. And once intolerance sets in and is not offered a contrapuntal and corrective, it becomes normative. It is to these normative implications and consequences of intolerance that Aamir Khan is throwing his status and eminence to. And it should be read and understood against this perspective. Laying out, delineating and deconstructing Aamir Khan’s statement in this essay is not in the nature of a defense of the man; it is an explication of the statement as I understand these to be. I then validate and whole heartedly endorse what Aamir Khan is stating and implying and that is , ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.

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