I noticed the whole fracas on my Facebook feed out of the corner of my eye and dismissed it as a storm in a teacup. But then I noticed discussions around the issue where urban yuppie types, not the types is expected to be bhakts of that magnitude, seemed to be saying one thing: “Yes but” and then going on to say something along the lines of he should be grateful for the life he’s had (and if he’s not he should go to Pakistan). And again I was surprised to be surprised that really people are this dumb. So my three cents: 

  1. 1. The idea that anyone should be grateful for enjoying basic freedoms  that the Constition guarantees is ludicrous. Yet, whenever anyone from a minority community dares to utter a critique, they are asked to be grateful. Grateful to whom or what? To the Hindu majority by whose grace we exist supposedly. Well bullshit. We were here as long as you and the nation was founded on our right to be here so those who have a problem with it need to either fuck off or be grateful that they are allowed to exist in India in contravention of the spirit of the nation. 
  2. The sensitivity of Indians to any critique and the immediate reaction of comparing the situation favourably to Pakistaj or Saudi Arabia (if a Muslim is involved) or China or some totalitarian regime. It would be charming, how well the ideological state apparatus has done its work on us, if it wasn’t so stupid. It took me getting out of India to realise this. I noticed that in Hong Kong people are always criticising their city and their government. They almost always compare themselves unfavourably to other countries. Moreover, they never benchmark themselves against worse off places but against places that are doing better in the area concerned. This constant critique might have played a role in the terrotiry becoming a world class one. In India, it’s the opposite – conveniently compare ourselves to worse off nations and voila our izzat is restored, if nothing else. 
  3. There is no shame in leaving. Again, it’s possibly a result of where I live, on the edge of China, that I am keenly aware of the importance of being able to leave and how sometimes the individual has to cut his/her losses and get out before hir mind is lost. Also how those who leave can serve the nation by critiquing it from afar when they would have been silenced within as Chinese dissidents do.

And of course the irony of the vitriol that followed Aamir’s remarks proving his point. That the climate in the country has changed and that one cannot speak freely without a backlash that goes beyond a reasoned discussion or agreement to disagree.

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