Don’t make a big deal of Shah Rukh’s detention
After a long time actor Salman Khan has come up with a real gem. On hearing about Shah Rukh Khan being questioned by US security at Newark, New Jersey, he said it’s good that the country has such a tight set-up. And that ``there has been no attack after 9/11 because of this.’’Salman has a point. SRK might be an icon to Indians and many in the subcontinent, even to the desi diaspora spread across the globe, but to America he’s just a visitor. We may be convinced he cannot be involved in anything that’s remotely violent, but the guard given the responsibility of stopping something like 9/11 from happening in his country again will want to take no chances. And what is the possibility that he’s a die hard fan of the Khan and Bollywood? Very slim.Interestingly, the same day that SRK was detained in Newark, there came news that the great Bob Dylan, who was wandering around Long Branch, near New York City, sometime back, was asked for an ID by two cops too young to know who he really was. When he couldn’t furnish one, he was taken right back to the resort where he was putting up and staff there vouched for him. And America is Dylan’s own country. Was there a furore? Not that I know of. Not even a little blowin' in the wind.SRK says he’s ``upset and angry’’ because it was his Muslim name that caused all this. Thousands of Muslims are made to go through extra security checks everyday in America and a host of Western countries. Is he equally upset at that? He's probably just pissed that it happened to him, India's mega star. We all know how a lot of Muslims have been subjected to prejudice around the world because many countries see terrorism as an Islamic phenomenon. Yes, it is uncalled for, unjust and maybe wrong. But America is a country that takes the killings of its people with the seriousness it deserves, unlike India whose record on this is shameful, to say the least.Also, because most of the perpetrators of 9/11 were Muslims, America thinks it has to be doubly careful where they are concerned. Had the terrorists been Jews, perhaps it would have looked at Jews with similar suspicion. I was much more aggrieved at President Kalam being frisked. But that’s a dated debate.There are two layers to the SRK incident and we must peel them off with care. One, it is quite ridiculous that Indians feel their icons and superstars are everybody’s icons and superstars. What the heck? If Jet Li came to India tomorrow, the man on the street here would probably call him ‘`Chinky’’ and not give a second look. For that matter, what if Gérard Depardieu came travelling. How many would know him? Matt Damon was here recently and there wasn’t a traffic jam in Delhi. These guys are huge back home.Moreover, America doesn’t have a culture of fawning the way India has. Mike Tyson was treated like a common rapist and spent most part of his youth in the slammer. Winona Ryder was sentenced to a three-year probation for shoplifting. Chinese born Hollywood actress Bai Ling was fined US 200 dollars for petty theft.More importantly, we are actually aggrieved because we are ``not like them’’. Well, guess what. It isn’t a virtue. We should be like them and take the security of our country and its people with solemn, no-nonsense professionalism. Frisk Brad Pitt when he lands in India next. Give Tom Cruise the same dose. Don’t spare Bill Clinton either. Isn’t he an ex-prez just like Kalam? Who’s stopping you and what’s stopping you? Colonial hangover? Or is it plain lethargy and callousness. Looks like both.We are just whimpering over here like hurt puppies because we feel, ``Oh, but we don’t do it to them’’. Oh no, we don’t. And it’s a scandal. We should. I’ve seen white men – and women – get away in India with murder. Indian women can’t get into some discos wearing a sari. And bouncers will frown at you if you are dressed in a kurta. Have you seen what some of these firangs have on them? No one bats a eyelid.So instead of making SRK’s detention an issue, we should think of upgrading our own security set-up. There’s a lesson in this. And it is a positive one. A day after our own 26/11, there was hardly any security at CST in Mumbai. It can’t get worse than that. The bottom line: Stop fawning, shed the colonial hangover and make no compromise where the country’s safety is concerned. Can we do that or is it too much to ask from a country that’s been free for 62 years but was ruled by white sahibs for 200?