The Liberal Media ‘s Affair with the Shah Rukh Khan

via By Dr. Vijaya Rajiva published on February 9, 2010

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan called on the Indian youth to consider Pakistan a ‘great ‘
neighbour and to love them. This was said publicly and loudly on an NDTV program
‘India Questions SRK and Karan Johar: Part 1’

The teenage audience applauded. The Liberal media ,probably asleep at the wheel, did not
comment.  The program was anything but question period. One can describe it as  a love fest
with the paternalistic Prannoy Roy benevolently presiding over the event.

The entire liberal media seems to have turned its attention  to SRK’s earlier statement that
the IPL should have selected Pakistani cricket players also. This incocuous statement received  
great attention  and much ink was wasted on   how right SRK was and so on and so forth, while the ‘fanatical’ Shiv Sena was as usual horribly fanatical and horribly wrong in their condemnation of SRK’s statement. SRK himself played the whole drama to its fullest hilt and asked disingenuously what he had said that was so wrong, referring to the IPL statement. The present writer has written about this(See ‘In The Name of Liberalism : The Shah Rukh Khan Affair’ in Haindava Keralam , 04/02/2010)

The entire confusion caused by this liberal obfuscation needs to be unravelled to point out that
in the opinion of this writer SRK must be judged not on the IPL statement but on his description of Pakistan as a ‘great’ neighbour.  Could  this be described as an   attempt to mislead the general public?And especially the young who may not be aware of the 60 year plus history of the ‘great’ neighbour’s conduct towards India and who  clearly do not know about the trials, sacrifices and heroism of the jawans who defended the country against this ‘great’ neighbour, and continue to do.  And, ofcourse, they most likely  want  to also forget   
the  terror attacks of the past, and even of the recent past. Understandable in the young.

Humankind cannot bear much reality

(T.S. Eliot).

Surely, SRK knows, and so does the liberal media.

It has been pointed out that SRK’s father and grandfather were freedom fighters in the independence struggle against colonial rule and this might explain the liberal media’s tendency to treat him with kid gloves.

But SRK is not his father or grandfather. He has to stand on his own feet and prove his mettle . The  recent fiasco is not about  his statement about the IPL decision or the muddying of the waters by the Mumbai for Mumbaikars controversy, but about a mature SRK ‘s  glib call to consider Pakistan a ‘great’ neighbour . By its silence regarding this issue, the liberal media seems to have conspired with the Shah, to create a smoke and mirrors effect.

The question is why ? A tentative answer can be put forward. Under pressure from the Obama administration, India is being softened up for resumption of talks with Pakistan, talks which were on hold since the Mumbai terror Attack of 2008. Ostensibly, this is to get Pakistan to co operate with the war in Afghanistan. This is evident to all.

This writer has written about the raison de’etre of the Aman ki Asha Project and the Congress sponsored Road Map to Peace ( See ‘ The Road Show : The Aman ki Asha tamasha and its twin The Road Map to Peace’ in Haindava Keralam 21/01/2010). While the Aman ki Asha is basically a project involving NGOs, artists and writers, the Road Map is straight
forwardly political and lists a number of topics which are on the agenda  for talks with Pakistan. An agenda that no self respecting Indian would or should agree to.

These two are the main reasons why the liberal media seems to have created a certain confusion as to Shah Rukh Khan conduct. It is useful to remind the reader that the controversy is not about:

The IPL decision  not to hire Pakistani cricketers and SRK’s position on that.
The Shiv Sena call of Mumbai for Mumbaikers and the imbroglio surrounding Rahul Gandhi’s
visit to Mumbai.

There have been dissenting voices from the Nationalists. The VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) has called for a boycott of SRK’s new film ‘My Name Is Khan’ because of their view that he is not being patriotic.Rather than further muddying the waters SRK is well advised to apologise to the Indian public, especially the young, for what can be characterized as a misleading statement.

If he is to live up to the ideals of his father and grandfather, he should not engage in irresponsible rhetoric, and the liberal media should not encourage him in his somewhat erratic behaviour. People who lost near and dear ones in the terror attacks should not be trivialized by treating them as fanatics, buffoons, lumpen proletariat etc. which seems to be the world view of the Shah and certain sections of the liberal media. Nor should the deaths of thousands of jawans be forgotten.
( The writer taught Political Philosophy at a Canadian university).

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