In Defense of Aamir Khan: Indian TV Channels, Social Media & Rise of Intolerance

In the aftermath of Aamir Khan episode, did you – like me – ever wondered about the role of Indian TV channels, social media in rising intolerance in country?

Intolerance and Aamir Khan Episode

Blown out of Proportion

Indeed I strongly believe that it is the media specially National TV channels both English and Hindi, which has made Indian public this much intolerant and impatient and 10 second fame seekers. All they want is TRP, sensationalism and ad revenue. If an anchor like Arnab Goswami is watched by so many with high TRP, I could only feel dismay and not so proud to be Indian.

What Aamir Khan said in a personal context – disappointing as it was as it was televised on National TV channels – was taken out of context and blown out of proportion. Most of the people overreacting to what he said wouldn’t have any inkling of what he actually said. So I couldn’t help but pen down some of my thoughts in defense of Aamir Khan.

There were a many ministers present at the awards ceremony on Tuesday when Aamir Khan made that remark. I wonder why Arun Jaitley, the senior-most minister in the audience, instead of being angry and making observation about how busy one could be in his job to think about other issues – in this case issue that concern our nation and its secular spirit as imbibed in our constitution –  did not stand up and say he understood Aamir’s anxiety and that his government would take what he said into consideration and guarantee that every Indian, irrespective of his belief, was safe? Isn’t that intolerance?

Have you seen the state of our news channels…Just contrast them with Western media like BBC, CNN, RT or AL Jazeera and you’d know what kind of farce and cheap entertainment and not news is presented by most of our news channels save Doordarshan.

Debates are more of arguments where uncouth politicians, page 3 people, so called holy peoples let each others turn cut down. Those with loudest voice try to win over just because they have stronger windpipe and strongest of them indeed belongs to no other than our Mr. Arnab Goswami the news anchor turned embarrassing self-parody and then debates are cut short for advertisement breaks. There are more minutes of ads than actual discussion (arguments).

Almost every news channel’s anchors have their own (or production team’s) personal view, which they projects onto as the public opinion and mood of the nation which then shapes the tone of the show. The primary purpose of the debate – to get all sides and facets of a problem get lost in all the din and fury of anchor’s questions, debaters arguments and frequent ad breaks.

Argumentative, interrupting, opinionated, know-it-all and the more ads then news is what exemplifies our news channels best. Be it Hindi or English each one is propagating their own agenda in race to win more TRP. To counterpart other news channels each one is on lookout of one after another ridiculous Breaking News.

Here are a few:

  • Stairway to heaven [aka “Swarg Ki Sidhi”]
  • Two snakes getting married in some remote village of India
  • Do Alien Drink Cow’s Milk

Here are some more:

Then, there is the proliferation of social media and some attention seeking vainglorious people looking for fun and cheap publicity go to any extent to get likes and retweets. Some of the photo shared on social media of Aamir Khan just cross any level of decency.

One of my fellow blogger rightly pointed out these trends that have taken Indian social media sphere by storm. Here’s what he has to say and I quote:

“One thing that has changed dramatically in the last decade is the rise of social media. It has helped connect millions of Indians and gave them a platform to raise their voice at the click of a button and become a hero. Most people write post for ‘likes’ that boosts their ego and make them feel better…Also, intolerant people make more noise and thus are all over the media, even if their number is low…

…Bad-intolerance is when instead of debates we start insulting people having different opinions. Calling others by names like ‘feku’, ‘bhakt’, ‘sickular’, ‘pseudo-liberal’, ‘aaptards’, ‘anti-national’ etc. is a sign of immaturity. Such immaturity has filled the social media world over, not just in India. The reaction of social media to the comments of Aamir Khan is one such incident of our immaturity…

… From calling him a terrorist, burning his effigy, to telling him to go to Pakistan was not a sign of our tolerance. If he or his family felt threatened, they had reasons. While the actual intolerance may not have gone up, our behaviour in the social media has increased the perception of intolerance. That is alarming because it does not take much for the intolerance to spill over from social media to our real lives. The responsibility lies with us to make sure that we do not let that happen.”

Read full post here:

People have lost the sense of how to debate. Now they know believe in arguments. Just as Arnab and other opinionated anchors and loud-mouthed and so called experts and opinion leaders suppress the milder speakers on national TV, we the Indians and common people are now overreacting to things which wouldn’t have bothered us a few years ago.

Aamir was tried swiftly on social media, dissenting film fraternity members including the famed dissenter Anupam Kher, page 3 people and in the intolerant political factions, and has been pronounced anti-national extraordinaire.

So for once he dared share his personal opinion on national stage what has Aamir earned in the country where he was born. Where – as to my knowledge – he has broken no laws and where he has been entertaining the masses for so many years irrespective of his religion.

A country – which Paresh Rawal, Anupam Kher and likes of them on both national news channels and social media – which claims has made him who he is and not the talent and skills inherent in or cultivated by him over the years. He got vilified, received personal insults, threat of physical violence by Shiv Sena and even economic boycott by people by maligning the brands he is associated with.

According to these so called nationalists, Aamir Khan has only lived, eared fame, success and money because Hindu majority of the country is charitable and whatever he is today is not because of his talent but majority Hindu India’s tolerance.

A BJP MP from M.P. even claimed that if India was intolerant, Aamir ‘would be working on any shop fixing punctured tyres’. That’s so rich. Could he say the same for Azim Premji of Wipro? Did he mean that any Muslim living in India not living in the fringes is so because the Hindu majority allows them to?

Those who are enraged at Aamir and believe that it is the tolerant country and gracious majority who are the reason behind Aamir Khan’s success; I say you are being rich! Whatever he is or for that matter any actor or businessman or artist is today; is because of only their own talent and the constitution of India – and thank god it imparts constitutional supremacy and not parliamentarian supremacy – which clearly declares India a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavors to promote fraternity among them. Please go read the constitution before you call yourself and country as tolerant and secular.

Prime Minister Modi invokes Gandhi often saying India is land of Gandhi. When overreacting to issues such as this Aamir Khan episode aren’t we only contradicting Modi? Didn’t Gandhi said “Nobody can hurt me without my permission?” Why are we, the proud Indians, feeling so hurt over a trivial personal statement made by Aamir Khan? Didn’t Gandhi said the weak can never forgive? Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. When did we become so weak? We only need to remember Mahatma rightly said that an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.

And well I even saw cricketer Ravindra Jadeja tweeted something against Aamir that he should leave the country if he wants but he shouldn’t insult India…Well all I will say that India is indeed tolerant when non-performer like him are tolerated in India year after years nonperformance. Its dud like him irresponsibly advising Aamir Khan to leave country and not insult India are such disgrace to nation who fuel the flame without even knowing what was actually said. Just like our media who take pride in misquoting or quoting out of context and goes on to prove how hollow in spirit as a true Indian he is.

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