This is in response to the news report “India slams U.S. ‘habit' of detaining Shah Rukh” (April 14). Millions of Indians live in hell-like conditions day in and day out but India's honour does not get affected. When a Bollywood star is subjected to a routine search (or detention due to technical reasons) at a foreign airport, national honour is at stake. When will feudal India understand that the civilised West does not believe in VIP culture?
Shah Rukh Khan is a popular film star and celebrity in India. He has fans in many countries. But in the U.S., he is just another tourist. The Indian government should not get involved whenever a film star, cricketer or singer is detained at an international airport by immigration officials. If at all it should intervene, it should be for poor people held prisoners or hostage in foreign countries — not for those who have lots of money and can hire lawyers.
Anand Sriram & Swati Sriram,
Shah Rukh may be an icon back home. But for a small time security person at a remote airport, he is just another traveller. For the Indian media to portray the incident as a national shame is unnecessary. VIPsm, as practised in India, is not well received in other countries.
I too have been detained in U.S. airports. First, at the behest of British Airways and, later, because a Lufthansa airhostess could not understand my Sanskrit name. And many times thereafter, as my name entered the “never forget” U.S. computer system as a “suspicious” person. In the SRK case, the government needs to show “caring,” distract attention from scams, and display national pride. Demanding an apology from the U.S. is so much easier than securing the release of Indian hostages from Somali pirates. It's hard to say what is more despicable — the U.S.' racial profiling or New Delhi's methods of championing the cause of those it considers VIPs.
S. Suchindranath Aiyer,