Thursday, August 4, 2022

Aamir Khan and the Myth of Secularism

Aamir as Laal Singh Chaddha

Is Aamir Khan secular? This question is irrelevant. Since he is a Muslim, Aamir transcends the debate on secularism. In India, secularism is a debate within the Hindu community. Only the Hindus can be secular, pseudo-secular, or communal. The Muslims are not expected to be secular because they have built an Islamic iron curtain around their religion and community—the debate about secularism cannot pierce this iron curtain. 

Jawaharlal Nehru imposed on India the Western concept of secularism. But he and the Congress party leaders who came after him failed to get the Muslims to join the project for creating a secular country. Nehru was sensitive to Muslim aversion to secularization—he knew that the Muslims would not accept secularism as the principle of governance. In the political system that he created, the burden for ensuring that the country remained secular was imposed on the Hindus. 

To appease the Muslims, Nehru ignored the role that they had played in India’s partition in 1947—he went a step further and blamed the Hindus for being bigoted and majoritarian. He never urged the Muslims to accept secularism. He often spoke of national integration but he allowed the Muslims to have their own personal law which was based on Islamic principles. He did not try to bring them under the regime of a common civil code. 

The bigotry of people like Aamir Khan is the uncomfortable consequence of the pseudo-secular political system that Nehru had built. In this system, Islam is beyond reproach, but Hinduism is an easy target. Aamir Khan cannot be asked to prove his secular credentials by criticizing the problems in Islam—but he enjoys the free pass to criticize Hinduism. He is free to lecture the Hindus and hold them responsible for the woes of the country.

I have never seen any movie starring Aamir. He is a mediocre actor; I will die of boredom if I am made to sit through his film. Yesterday, I saw some clips (less than 3 minutes) from his TV series Satyamev Jayate and the movie PK. In these clips, he was insulting Hindu Gods and he was blaming the Hindus for all kinds of social problems. I think Aamir is deeply conscious of being a Muslim—that is why he feels obliged to present such an ignorant and foolish caricature of Hinduism.

The Hindus have had enough of Aamir's bigotry and his condescending attitude towards Hindu customs. His movie Laal Singh Chaddha, a remake of Tom Hanks's Forrest Gump, is set to be released on 11th August; the good news is that #BoycottLaalSinghChaddha has been trending in social media for a number of days. I hope this boycott succeeds. Aamir’s movies do not deserve Hindu viewership. Let his movie marinate in empty theaters. 

Hasta la vista baby, Aamir Khan (said in Terminator style).


Ajit R. Jadhav said...

Secularism is part of Individual Rights.

I didn't read your post beyond the title. But I reckon you must be kept in some check. I am certain you didn't mention Individual Rights anywhere in it.

What next? Individual Rights as a [foolish] Utopian ideal, you Anoop?

PS: Do you want a job in Persistence Systems, Pune? Dr. Anand Deshpande and Mr. Sandeep Johri would be glad to give you one. If not, try AICTE/UGC office in New Delhi, or SPPU, Pune. You would fit in.

Anoop Verma said...

@Ajit: It is nice of you to say that.

I am not sure if the case can be made that secularism is part of individual rights. Secularism is a system of governance. It represents the triumph of matter over spirit. Secularism tells you to forget God and treat your nation as the new material God. The secular nations are often very nationalistic.

Ajit R. Jadhav said...


So nice of you that you took it (the job-related part) in the right spirit.


Yes, I am sure that principle of secularism --- the separation of religion and state --- does arise from, and protects, Individual Rights.

The triumph of matter over spirit would be materialism. It's a favourite of socialists / communists. Not secularism though.

Simply put, secularism implies that the domain of religion does not extend to State, *and* vice-versa. However, individuals are at complete liberty to pursue their own religious beliefs so long as the practices don't violate others' individual rights. (In fact, they are at a better liberty, precisely because Individual Rights cannot be violated by government using the apparatus of State.)

Of course, processions involving harmful levels of sound are properly not allowed, even if these are for religious purposes. And, of course, those individuals who wish to hear a big blare would be welcome to shove earphones into their own ears and jack up the volume as much as they desire. There could be a huge market opportunity in Pune for special earphones that guaruntee to damage the user's ears permanently within half an hour of first use. Once again, with a proper government, there would be no law against making, selling or using such devices.

Roshan said...

imagine some libertarian chomu feeling the need to interject and make whatever passes for secularism over here about muh indivizooal rights when it has nothing to do with that. Nor does the issue being addressed.

Ajit R. Jadhav said...