Friday, March 12, 2010

Of Amitab Bachchan, Narendra Modi and Kerala

The newspapers are playing it up - the fact that the party which kicked out Abdullahkutty 'cos he sang the praises of Narendra Modi has officially invited Amitabh Bachan, the brand ambassador of Modi’s Gujarat, as Kerala’s posterboy. MODI’S POSTER BOY, BIG B, IS AMBASSAOR OF CPM-RULED KERALA TOO, says The New Indian express of today, Kerala edition

It’s a happy coincidence for the media that the official confirmation from the Kerala government of Bachan’s role as Keralais brand ambassador should come on March 10, the day before the sensational summons were issued to Narendra Modi by the SIT to appear before it and provide answers to certain questions to which hitherto Modi’s reply had been a deafening silence.

Certain issues beg consideration here.

Ø Has Bachan erred morally in agreeing to become the poster boy of Gujarat? An answer in the positive would inhere the presumption that the entire state/population of Gujarat is responsible for the post Godhra pogrom. Cynics might say that they twice re-elected the man who engineered the genocide, and so his actions have the endorsement the people. Well, the issue is complex. Modi perhaps – at least I’d like to believe – was not reelected for his role in the post Godhra ethnic cleansing, but for the much hyped development agenda he promised his state - of which he himself has become a poster boy and a powerful symbol. So powerful that Abdullahkutty from within the ranks of CPM was swayed into praising him. But it is sad, that the people of Gujarat lost sight of the fundamental democratic principles and inalienable human rights which were pooh poohed when the Modi administration cracked down on an entire community to the punish the unpardonable act of miscreants. I would say the election of Narendra Modi twice after the genocide point sharply to the Achilles heels of Democracy.

Coming back to the Amitabh Bachan issue, I got this excerpt from his blog from the following link.

“He (Modi) lives simply and with mere basic needs and most unlike the head of a state. He speaks with affection on development and progress. He is welcoming to fresh ideas and ideals. His oft repeated phrase of him being a CM, a common man, is not misunderstood.

“He does and acts as he speaks.”

“He talks of raising the level of awareness for his state through tourism and I volunteer to participate in any activity that would help promote that,” Bachchan wrote explaining his interest in promoting Gujarat.

Well, I find this shocking and slavish – and absolutely without character. Big B, no matter what a goliath he is, cannot right a terrible wrong by showering such fulsome praise on a man who let loose horror on helpless people, on a Chief Minister, who instead of apprehending and severely punishing those who indulged in the brutal terror act of the train burning, used the state machinery to wipe out a community. And Bachan goes into ecstasy over his life of simplicity. He waxes eloquent on Modi’s mode of articulation He speaks with affection on development and progress”. I call it a betrayal of the people that Bachan who entrenched himself in the heart of his fans as the angry young man who fought against the powerful to protect the weak and the vulnerable, should sing this psalm of praise to the man who used the state machinery to mow down a helpless community.

Shame on him!

Guess Bachan stood to gain from this association. His films have become tax free in Gujarat. It would be interesting to know the size of the pay packet he gets from Gujarat tourism authority.

Maybe we cannot blame him. The memories of his financial distress before Kwon banega made him a crorepathy must be still green in his mind. And he never claimed to be a champion of the underdog or a principled individual. It is the people who thrust that image on him.

Now that mask - the kereedam- is knocked off, we see the real Bachan.

Does Kerala need such a brand ambassador? How can the government of Kerala unilaterally decide to have a person of dubious principles selling my state?

I am angry.


  1. I agree that Kerala don't need a brand ambassador. But not for your reasons. Allegation that Modi used the state machinery to wipe out a community is just that, an allegation. He may have given a free run(72 hrs, I guess) for the fanatics and then indulged in hate speech. Incidentally our former prime minister who did the exact same thing 25 yrs ago - turning a blind eye and then justifying it with the 'ground will shake' rant - is bestowed the highest civilian award of our great nation. Not getting angry? I can understand.

    So if you are angry for Kerala tourism dept, just live with it.

  2. Madam,In your opinion Amitabh Bachan is not suitable for the position of Brand Ambassador of Kerala.

    Why cant we suggest Thadiyantavida Naseer as the brand Ambassador of Kerala?At least he tried to spread the new Kerala's image by planting bombs in states like Karnataka,Maharashtra and Gujarath -the very states who gave asylum to millions of economic refugees from Kerala-and killed& maimed scores of innocent people of these states .

  3. Apparently you have struck a live nerve here- good for you!! I love the way you are never fearful to tread on dangerous ground.

    I will honestly say I don't know the full background of everything written here- but I also will say- you presented your arguments extremely well. If Modi did what you claim- then Kerala should not want to have anything to do with Amitabh Bachan- because his thinking is definitely skewed.

    Why don't they get a homegrown 'brand ambassador'?

  4. Hmm, teacher,I have a different question to ask.. was bachan, ever an ambassador of political morality or as you said of any kind of principles?(I have a certain kind of dislike towards him, that i even refuse to consider him as a good actor.Thats my problem.)
    I dont think, even people attribute that to him. He is just a popular star, and he endorses any product that comes his way. Kerala Tourism is another of his products. Ideally one must see, if Kerala tourism is being promoted as something to do with principles, in which case, he may not fit the bill.But if its marketed as something that one can have a good time, and enjoy,maybe a star is fine!


    Mallika Sarabhai wrote this letter to Mr.Bachan, on his decision to endorse brand Gujarat.

    Oh my! of all Amitabh Bachan as kerala's Ambassador? next would be bachan bahu as Assisstant Ambassador(why not eh?-she filmed in kerala!!..haha). does kerala need one?

  6. Rajiv Ghandhi presided over killing of 20000 sikhs in 1984 and is accused of laundering 1000s of crores in bofors case.
    It makes me feel angry. Do u feel angry?

    Of course not, coz u r a bloody congress(I) supporter

    Pst: in above line “I” stands for isai, islami

  7. I saw the Barkha Dutt interview with Mr. Bacchan and this issue was raised there. Amitabh responded that he was endorsing the Indian state of Gujrat and not its CM Modi. I found that reasoning plausible but his blogpost does raises questions if you just pass through it once.

    But going through those words again I don't see anything serious enough to be criticized. He is still endorsing the state with some 'kind' words on Mr. Modi. He hasn't praised him politically but has just acknowledged the difference he saw in Modi-the-CM from other leaders of states. Yes, many people argue that Modi-the-man doesn't deserve any such accolades for the atrocities he committed, and such a statement especially coming from Mr. Bacchan has hurt many.

    Well, I see a different angle to it. Kerala could do well with a different brand ambassador but it will be interesting how the IE viewpoint will be politically analyzed if Bacchan is going to endorse Kerala as well.

  8. Were you part of Modi's so-called plan? If yes than you should first be questioned or else if not than stop writing assumed thoughts based on what you have been tutored from media.

    Dare to publish this comment.

  9. @ all

    the issue here is that a party which threw out abdullakutty for praising Modi takes a person who admits being an ardent modi fan, as the state's poster boy. why did the party have to do it? shudn't it find out if the people are interested in having this bolly hero as their poster boy?

    no. was not part of modi's plan:-) but i was in vadodra, stuck in a hotel, listening to people from other parts of gujarat contacting people on their cell phones, while sitting in the lobby. if modi's hands are clean, i ask god 's forgiveness for being so judgemental.

    i am a very apolitical person. but i'm obsessive about humman rights. proably, on account of the strong survival instincts.all obsessions are rooted in self interest.

  10. A Keralite by birth, domicile and upbringing, I have lived for extended periods in West Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra (actually, Bombay - Ooops! Mumbai, before the Thackerays target my head!) and Gujarat. As a person employed in the financial services sector, I have looked at these states and Kerala from the point of view of economic growth through incentivising agriculture, services and/or industry, the degree of success attained in exploiting the potential, etc.

    This is my impressionistic analysis. Leaving aside West Bengal where the progress has been in the reverse direction and Maharashtra whose capital anyway has been the commercial capital of the country, Punjab and Gujarat have done stupendous work in the area. You must see the speed at which things get done in PSIDC or PFC and GIDC or GSFC to believe that what takes six months in Kerala can actually be done in a day!

    The Chief Ministers of the respective states - be it Beant Singh, Amrinder Singh or Prakash Singh Badal, Chimanbhai Patel, Shankar Sinh Vaghela or Narenda Modi - have done an excellent job in making the government businesslike.

    When Amitabh Bacchan (AB) becomes the brand ambassador for Gujarat, he is not endorsing whatever the Government of Gujarat does, just as when I say I like Paretank, it does not mean I shed my purist attitude towards the English language and support your view that one has to be permissive in spelling and grammar. When AB becomes the brand ambassador for Kerala, he is not endorsing 'Nokkukooli' and hartals that have become the hallmark of Kerala. If he is going to be the brand ambassador for, say, the tourism industry, I do not think there is anything objectionable in that either for AB or Kerala, unless, of course, tourism degenerates into sex tourism. (Maybe when it is Abhishek Bacchan's turn, even sex tourism might become acceptable!)

  11. The whole issue is news[pun unintended] to me....;-)
    Enjoyed reading the post & the comments:-))!!!

  12. I guess one has made Modi work harder than the rest of the Chief Ministers to salvage his reputation.... but then there are other CM's too have done a good job in states which were in a worse position than Gujarat...

    but then your question as to why the party has appointed Bachan who praises Modi and is a brand ambassador for Gujarat, when the same party threw Abdulla Kutty out is valid... it only proves that the communist party continues to wither....

  13. I am sorry but your post seems a bit biased a nd not fully informed,Unless you are amongst the Modi bashing club.
    AB is too big a world personality to be assessed by you.
    You may want to get your facts right.

  14. does Kerala need a brand ambassador?...God's own country?...God is there up there!

  15. Poet Ayyappan would make,have made, the best Kerala Ambassador.

  16. @ wannabe
    my quarrel on this issue is on 2 counts. 1. bachan's endorsement of Modi in his blog and not with his endorsing the state of gujarat 2. the double standards of CPM - kicks one person and kisses another for the same reason.

    on the language issue - it's very difficult to be governed by precepts when users all over the world/from different regions are violating them with the greatest ease. expressions and usages which once would have been stigmatised with that red underline are gaining repectability - possibly 'cos many of the non native users of englsh find in them that fillling which levels the lacuna between sensibility and the available language resources.
    i think we should remember that a lot of rules that we were taught by wren & martin are latinate fallacies imposed on an anglosaxon language in the eighteenth century. even the native speakers are rebelling against them.

    excessive permissiveness, however,affects intelligibility, i admit.

    @ reflections

    @ happy kitten
    yes, the development agenda s an effort to erase the memories of the riot. whatever the motive, if the state has gained by it, it's good. that does not mean that a person who ushered in that progress should be condoned by the law of the land or the people for gross violation of violations of human rights.

    @ b k chowla
    yes. i am a Modi basher, and will remain one till someone proves that he is innocent.

    regarding bachan, people in kerala dont fall over each other for bachan.he is not a rage here.i have only echoed the irritation of a lot of like minded people. but i guess, since he is the brand ambassador for tourism, our likes and dislikes are sure, if hitler can sell kerala, our present govt. wudnt hesitate to use him as the poster boy!

    @ nalini hebbar
    God has given up on Kerala:-)but we continue to use him as our brand ambassador.

    @ stoic
    Hmmm - -

  17. CPM's double standards have always been there.

    WR Varadarajan, a brilliant ideologue, was driven to suicide after being stripped of party posts because he was accused of 'acts unbecoming of a party worker' when several others (Let's not name anyone) we know get away with blue murder.

    Closer home, Kollam Mayor Padmalochanan had to lose everything because he associated himself with an RSS event. I muse: why would a beaming Brinda Karat not be taken to task for hugging an ecstatic Sushma Swaraj (I am sure you did not miss those visuals on the TV and in the newspapers) upon the Women's Reservation bill being passed in the Rajya Sabha?

    Talking on the bill, what is your take on it? I consider it a clever ploy to ensure that only one of several smart women get in. If at present four illustrious women Ms A, B, C and D from four different parties could get elected from four different constituencies, in future, the parties of B, C and D would pit them all against A ('We need a good candidate opposite A') and only one would win.

  18. what to do with commis regarding bachans, even they made their theory impractical by the famous slogan,, these cpi,m people always double cross everything, thats what happen in kerala and bengal,, its the choise of people and authorities, but they(cpi-m) always dictators,, even hitler lived in kerala now he also got ashamed,,,,,

    aidos bachan we love you,,,,,(mallu's)

  19. I think this whole controversy is a non issue and a creation of the media.We are made to almost believe that Narendra Modi himself is being invited to be Kerala tourism's ambassador.

    Big B by being the brand ambassador of Gujarat State is not endorsing Modi's role in Gujarat riots. If Big B was made the brand ambassador of Kerala tourism, it do not mean Kerala's Left front is endorsing Modi Everybody know all this. Then why this controversy? CPM afraid of adverse media publicity is backing off now.What is there if Big B is or is not the brand ambassador? Will it change anything?
    Comparison of this non-issue with that of Abdullakutty is unjustified. Abdullakutty was not a mere brand ambassador but an MP and in the leadership of a political party. Most political parties will be forced to expel its member if he/she says things that are opposed to the Party's views.

  20. A Sitaram Yachuri that cannot even win a Panchayath seat from his own State, says Bachchan is not good enough. And following this, Kerala morons that are said to be more enlightened go on to insult an icon.

    I think someone in AKG Bhavan, Delhi wanted 'something' from Big B, and was refused. Hence the insult that made Kerala the laughing stock of the country once again.

  21. Bachan, indubitably has a global reach, as the most celebrated Indian. His face is recognized even in Sudan, where movies are taboo. (where bootleg Indian movies sell like the forbidden fruit)

    Now that London cabs have painted kathakali faces and kettuvallams on their sides, KTDC definitely has acquired the killer instinct, in aggressive marketing 0f the only commodity it can sell. (It's abundant natural beauty)

    We do not have a malayalee whose face will be recognized the world over! but we still have a few souls, whose integrity will set them apart, as true ambassadors of a rich culture fast vanishing! What about Sugatha kumari? she still climbs mountains to preserve the natural biodiversity of Kerala!
    Kodiyeri can appoint his own son to the post.That will justifiably endorse the "de facto" pravailing mallu culture!
    I am angry too! ... a kind of impotent anger!
    @ bombay dosthi - Bachan is a Good Actor. period!


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