Aamir forfeits right to represent India

FPJ BureauUpdated: Friday, May 31, 2019, 07:16 PM IST

Actor Aamir Khan did not have a life-long claim on being retained as the brand ambassador of India. The long-running Incredible India campaign in advertisements in print, television and other media was directed essentially at foreign tourists. They were the main focus of the campaign. The diminutive hero of many a Bollywood hit forfeited the right to represent India the moment he expressed doubts about the lack of tolerance in the country.

Even if he expressed those dire fears about growing insecurity from the shoulders of his wife, it was clear that the Brand Ambassador of Incredible India himself did not believe in the very campaign he was so closely associated with in the eyes of the people.

As any marketing guru would tell you, credibility is of utmost importance for any such campaign to have an impact. With Aamir openly marketing fear and insecurity about India, albeit in the name of his wife, it would have been wholly counterproductive for him to have continued as the brand ambassador of the Incredible India campaign a moment longer. For example, you do not retain a celebrity who is widely known to be an alcoholic in real life to market abstinence.

Besides, there were others, equally, if not more, competent to front the campaign. As we had noted in this space at the time, Aamir seemed to have talked about the intolerance thing on an impulse at an awards ceremony organised by a newspaper group in mid-November last.

Surprisingly, his remarks came days after the Bihar Assembly results. This was days after the well-orchestrated campaign by a group of leftist-progressive writers of showily returning their awards had come to an abrupt end. It appeared as if with the defeat of the BJP in Bihar the Indian society had again returned to the path of tolerance.

Aamir’s remarks days after the Bihar result surprised even the vendors of the intolerance campaign for he had chosen to stay silent when they were in full flow, lamenting the alleged lack of tolerance and the rising fear in the society thanks to the advent of the Modi Government.

The advertising agency which was commissioned by the Union Tourism Ministry for the Incredible India campaign clarified that its contract with the government was over. The Ministry was free to renew the contract with the same agency or hire another one for the generally well-received campaign.

There was speculation that Amitabh Bachchan might be the next brand ambassador of the new Incredible India campaign. Whoever it is, we are relieved that Aamir no longer markets Incredible India.

As pointed out, for someone whose own wife felt threatened to live in India, it would have been the height of hypocrisy — and a waste of precious public resources — to invite others to come and visit the country.

Yes, Aamir has, like any other citizen, every right to express his feelings, his fears and hopes. But he has no right, particularly after the public airing of the baseless fears about a climate of intolerance in the country, to be the face of India for potential domestic and foreign tourists.

The ultimate middle-roader 

Without doubt, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who died in Delhi on Thursday at the age of 79, was a bold and imaginative leader. His place in the history of Jammu and Kashmir is assured. He took the biggest risk in his life when, following the Assembly poll in 2014, he teamed up with the BJP to form the government.

This was unthinkable for anyone till the results threw up a badly hung House. Jammu had voted almost en bloc for the BJP, Kashmir for the PDP.

The only other option was the Governor’s rule and/or a fresh Assembly poll. Mufti displayed a rare maturity, rising to the occasion to give the troubled Valley the ultimate in political and ideological give-and-take. The same spirit of reconciliation and compromise he had brought to bear on governance.

A self-made leader, unlike the arch-rivals, the flamboyant  Abdullahs,  Mufti carved a place for himself in the J and K politics by toeing the moderate line, endorsing former prime minister Vajpayee’s ~insaniyat~ doctrine to resolve the seemingly intractable Kashmir problem.

His sincere and persuasive approach endeared him to all. It was his non-controversial nature that allowed him to first succeed as a Congress leader,  then as VP Singh’s Home Minister, and, finally, as the founder of the PDP.

His daughter, Mehbooba, who has been active in the PDP from its inception, is now set to succeed him as Chief Minister. She enjoys tremendous goodwill in the State. It is hoped she will acquit herself well in her new and arduous role.

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