There are good reasons to carry the Olympic torch. Aamir Khan gave the worst one.
Aamir Khan, it has been reported, has turned down pleas by Tibetan refugees, fans, friends and some members of his family not to carry the Olympic torch on its Indian leg on April 17th.
His decision is in sharp contrast to that of Baichung Bhutia, the Indian football captain. Mr Bhutia pulled out of the programme as a personal protest against the China’s handling of the protests in Tibet.
It is not at all surprising that Mr Bhutia’s decision was hailed as heroic, and Mr Khan’s criticised. Indeed, if Mr Khan had only justified his decision based on the need for an Indian citizen to respect the Olympic spirit on the grounds that the Olympics ought to transcend politics, like Kiran Bedi did, his decision too would have been praiseworthy. It would have invoked the Longbottom principle.
Unfortunately, Mr Khan went on to justify his decision by belittling his own country. As B Raman writes in an open letter to Mr Khan, and as The Acorn pointed out when M K Bhadrakumar made a similar argument a few days ago, it takes a particular form of moral deficiency to equate China and India and the way they deal with disaffected citizens.
There can only be contempt for those who draw this specious analogy and hide behind the I-am-against-any-form-of-violence amoral pacifism.
That Aamir Khan made this comparison should disqualify him from carrying the torch on behalf of India. The torch should be carried by those who are proud of the values that India stands for.
Shame on you, Mr Khan.
Update: Aamir Khan is carrying the torch on behalf of the Coca Cola Company, and not a representative of India. The difference is important. It is a decision between him and his corporate sponsor. Given his repugnant perception of his own country’s values, it should only be a good thing that he is not “officially” representing India. But this does not mean that his comments are any less excusable.