The irony of being Aamir

The issue isn?t about coke. It?s about Aamir Khan and his environmental stances, writes Bharati Chaturvedi.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 23:25 IST

Last week, actor Aamir Khan showed up in Delhi at two protests: one, against the Narmanda dam and the other about the state of continuous neglect of the Bhopal victims by the state. When I learnt that this was about to happen, I was confused. Aamir Khan promoted coke, known by then to contain pesticides. Many activists have also pointed how its operations have deprived local communities of water. But the issue here isn’t about coke. It’s about Aamir Khan and his environmental stances.

The Narmada Movement has been seeking equitable and just sharing of water resources, and Bhopal is a symbol of how a pesticide manufacturer got away after creating the largest industrial accident in the last century. Both these movements offer us a critique of justice that is well symbolized by coke. So why did Aamir Khan do this volte face? And if he felt it was the right thing, how does he see his previous assignments?

Can such support be really seen as support? And do movements necessarily need stars to create a mass appeal? It’s hard to say. And that’s the point. It hasn’t been clarified or debated in the public realm. We were asked to be there and claim our country. Whether or not this happens, the irony of this star support stings hard. And I’d rather claim the country by being honest not star struck.

Avian flu prods thought

India has seen its second round of avian flu. For those who are not vegetarians, it’s hard to eat chicken, what with avian flu. It’s hard to eat fish, what with the poor quality of the water and the rapidly depleting fish stock globally. And then, red meat has been a no-no for a while.

So, how do we understand this crisis? It’s simple. We look at the way meat is being produced globally: in the West, as an industry that is cruel, unsustainable for the means it deploys and not always able to provide healthy food. And in developing countries, where there are scores of poor farmers who keep such small chicken as a means of livelihood, it seems bad too. The overcrowding means such birds are highly susceptible to an avian flu epidemic, if there is an ill bird.

(If you feel for planet Earth, write to

First Published: Apr 19, 2006 23:25 IST