I read recently that a professor did a survey in strife-torn North Africa, where many students thought of terrorism as more rewarding than entrepreneurship—13.2% of youngsters said they'd consider joining terrorist bodies which offer a "salary" of $500 to $700 per month. Tempting!
Incidents like the Uri killings happen because misdirected youth, across the world, don't get opportunities.
And then there's the Fawad Khan article doing the rounds. I don't think this is about him at all.
Who would have read the journalist's story if it didn't have a Bollywood star's name in the headline?
My in-circle of close friends includes a man named Husseini.
He's a teetotaller, doting father, wonderful husband and loves his religion—everyone is a child of Allah and all are equal.
I asked him about the much discussed go-back-to-Pakistan-Fawad story.
He said, "I don't think this is about Fawad. The journalist probably used Fawad Khan's name to get his point of view across. Who would have read his story if it didn't have a Bollywood star's name in the headline? This is about Uri and terrorism."
I laughed out loud. Yes, Indian society's discussions can be myopic.
It takes a Deepika Padukone to bring depression to the mainstream. God bless her, but what about sufferers all over the country, and activists who have been crying their lungs out for decades?
Do we need to de-Bollywood-ize our arguments? More importantly, can we do it?
Fawad Khan came to India for better prospects, just like many Indians go to the US for better paying jobs. That's all there is to this.
But India is a strange country.
- We don't celebrate Army Day the way it should be. But film awards have record viewership.
- Children are dying of malnutrition—will some Bollywood celebrity have to meet them physically and feed them? Do we know another way to direct attention to issues?
- If there are five events in a city to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti, the event with most relevance or impact will lose out to the event that has the most celebrity turnout.
We live in a country where the most followed "celebrity" on Twitter is PM Modi. Clearly, we love heroes.
But we don't seem to love tackling real issues. Or have the will to stay focused on those issues.
The internet has democratized opinions and news. Purpose will democratize who gets heard.
But monetary pressure democratizes terrorism; it is making the youth pick up guns instead of computers.
Fawad Khan, most of us have nothing against you. Yes, your brand is in the news. Please use this chance to support opportunities for youngsters across the world, in whatever way you can. Each one of us can be the change.
We have to say no, every time, to the smallest level of wrong doing. The environment and upbringing our children receive in homes, schools will decide what they read and what they watch as adults. We have to raise the level of arguments we have in society and commit to social change.