One for Aamir
In The Irony of being Aamir (April 17), Bharati Chaturvedi stated she was ?confused? that Aamir Khan, who endorses Coca-Cola, should voice his protest against the travails faced by the victims of Bhopal?s gas tragedy.india Updated: Apr 21, 2006 02:57 IST
In The Irony of being Aamir (April 17), Bharati Chaturvedi stated she was ‘confused’ that Aamir Khan, who endorses Coca-Cola, should voice his protest against the travails faced by the victims of Bhopal’s gas tragedy. But is there really any confusion, or contradiction, in Aamir endorsing Coke and speaking on behalf of the Bhopal gas victims, even if Coca-Cola may have reportedly contained pesticide — the vague connection being Union Carbide was also a pesticide manufacturer?
Coca-Cola, like any other consumer product company, advertises globally to attract buyers, create a brand image, etc, etc. Coke feels that Aamir Khan helps the product by appearing in its advertisements. No sin there, surely? As for Aamir, he has stated from the very beginning that, as an Indian citizen, he has heard — and identifies with — people who have been treated unjustly by the State and its authorities. He states that he is not against the building of the dam per se, but all he cares for is the rehabilitation of those displaced by the ongoing dam project. No sin or doublespeak there either.
Aamir is a citizen who people look up to and listen to. It is iconic power that he wields. It’s old hat that when a cause has a face, it will be better heard than when the same is propagated by a sea of faces. Just ask the media. Even Coke knows that with Aamir in its ads, people will pay attention. It is an unfortunate truth that Aamir Khan is heard louder than all the people displaced by the Narmada dam and all the people of the Bhopal tragedy put together. The point is that Aamir is not the only citizen who has this power. But it is equally true that very few people who share his status use their fame or image to help others. Most use it to make more money and acquire more fame.
Chaturvedi misses the point of Aamir’s action in joining the protestors. He is supporting the thousands displaced by the building of the dam and those continuing to suffer in Bhopal. What’s so confusing about this? With all our city-bred education, we, at best, voice our opinions in living-room discussions.
Understanding the country’s problems is one thing. But doing something about it quite another. The Narmada dam issue is our issue — every citizen should have a stake in it. Aamir didn’t need to do anything that he did. He doesn’t need exposure or fame or money at this juncture of his life. Neither is he getting into politics. But he went out there because he feels for the people — he possesses compassion and the will to change these wrongs, something that lies within each one of us. Yet, how many of us, celebrities or non-entities, bother?