The international profile of Indians is gaining greater traction and an increasing number are being tipped for becoming appointed global ambassadors of various bodies and popular initiatives. Shah Rukh Khan has spearheaded the trend, but others are not far behind. Here are the nominees:
Shah Rukh Khan: Has just been appointed Interpol ambassador, which means he will be the face of the international police organisation dedicated to the war against international drug smugglers — a character he played in Don. Accepting the award, Khan quoted Mahatma Gandhi, saying: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. He also hoped that his new title would allow him to sail through security checks at airports without having to repeat, “My Name is Khan and I am not a terrorist”.
Najma Heptullah: As ambassador for ‘National Identity’ or alternatively, ‘Promotion of Persian Studies’. She faces stiff competition from Mohan Bhagwat in the former position, since her own position on national identity has become lost in translation, located somewhere between Hindu and Hindi which, she later clarified, has to do with Persian translation. She also clarified that Muslims are not a minority, but Parsis are. As a Muslim herself, it’s clearly a case of currying favour. Except she keeps landing in a soup.
Rajnath Singh: As global ambassador for ‘Family Values’, considering how much he values his family — particularly his son. There is, of course, the larger question of his son’s values, or whether there is any truth to the rumour that he was asked to return it to the original owner. Rajnath’s angry denials and endorsement of his son’s integrity suggest he may be taking his post as Home Minister quite literally.
L K Advani: As universal ambassador for ‘Retirement Benefits’. He has the requisite experience, having been put out to political pasture on more than one occasion, but not being the retiring sort, he somehow survived. Politicians and Popes are the only ones without a retirement age, but Advani, at 86, may finally find himself headed for the political equivalent of Jurrasic Park.
Justice Markandey Katju: As world ambassador for the ‘World Press’. Now that he has perfected the art of converting blogs into front-page newspaper stories, almost daily, and judiciously, he deserves recognition. Of course, the fact that he quickly backtracks when his facts and conclusions are questioned may hurt his chances, but being chairman of the Press Council of India, and being able to broadcast his views in the very same press he presides over, must count for something.
Lalu Prasad/Nitish Kumar: As ambassadors for ‘Unity in Diversity’. The sum of their parts is clearly greater than the whole, but they have proved, quite demonstrably, that there is nothing like unity in adversity.
Sachin Tendulkar: As ‘Global Sporting’ ambassador. From cricketing legend to the owner of a football team, it’s a new ball game for Tendulkar. But with Nita Ambani overseeing proceedings and a chance at being back in the sporting spotlight, he shows his eye is still on the ball.
Alia Bhatt: As global ambassador for ‘Mensa International’. The society for those with the highest IQs in the world has members in 100 countries and would welcome someone who doesn’t look like a nerd, but needs to act like one in terms of knowing basic facts — like the name of the president of her country. Having graduated from Student of the Year to ‘Joke of the Year’ to her self-styled parody, ‘Genius of the Year’, she has shown that stupid can also be smart. Sort of.