Priyanka’s Response To Ayesha Malik Makes You Question Her Role As UN Goodwill Ambassador

Posted: August 14, 2019

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Priyanka Chopra’s response to Ayesha Malik at the BeautyCon raises several questions about the actor’s and most other celebrities’ take on political responsibility and feminism. 

I doubt that at this point, there is anyone who is unaware of the incident at BeautyCon, Los Angeles. The incident involving vlogger Ayesha Malik and actor Priyanka Chopra.

Ayesha accused Priyanka of encouraging nuclear war between India and Pakistan, via her tweet in Feb 2019 following the Balakot airstrike. The airstrike was conducted by the Indian Army in Pakistan after the Pulwama attack.

The actress referred to Ayesha’s question as venting and went on to say that she had several Pakistani friends. She further said that though she was not “fond of war’, she was “patriotic”. After Ayesha accused her of being a hypocrite, Priyanka asked her not to yell as she was embarrassing herself.

Ayesha took to Twitter to explain that the question came from her personal experience. She tweeted that she felt scared and helpless as was unable to reach her family during the blackouts.

Needless to say, it sparked a social media storm with the conversation being analysed word for word. Hindustan Times called Priyanka’s response ‘grace itself while the Times of India called it ‘epic

However, not everyone was happy with the response. Ayesha was praised for being brave enough to question a powerful celebrity for her political stance. Especially given Priyanka Chopra’s position as an UN Goodwill Ambassador. While Ayesha was being lauded, Priyanka’s response was heavily criticised for a number of reasons.

Some people questioned what was inflammatory about saying “Jai Hind”. They were promptly told that while there was nothing wrong in saying “Jai Hind” on any random day, tweeting it in response to a military action was a clear case of  ‘dog whistling.’

Many pointed out that it wasn’t the first time that Priyanka had said or done something problematic.

For other people, it wasn’t about what side of the political aisle the actor was on but about the fact that her response was disrespectful and infantilising.

And also because it was directed at another woman and was a very non-feminist response.

Several other people also raised the question of her suitability to be a UN Ambassador. The incident was also held as an example of the celebrities’ hypocritical “humanitarian” efforts.

For some others, it raised questions about her suitability (and the suitability of celebrities in general) to be an UN ambassador.

It was also held up as an example of celebrities’ hypocritical “humanitarian” efforts.

The political responsibility of celebrities

Most celebrities hesitate to speak out on issues of national importance as their popularity, and by extension their livelihood depends on being ‘liked’. While some of them prefer not to ruffle feathers, others are quite vocal.

Recently, Anurag Kashyap, Mani Ratnam and other celebrities sent an open letter to PM Narendra Modi opposing the recent lynchings of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities. In response Kangana Ranaut and some others wrote another open letter accusing the aforementioned celebrities of political bias.

Anurag Kashyap recently received significant backlash over his political views. This forced him to quit Twitter, saying, “When your parents start to get calls and your daughter gets online threats, you know that no one wants to talk. There isn’t going to be reason or rationale.”

One may question if celebrities should even be so involved in politics or if their views should be taken seriously.

So as citizens, they certainly have the right to talk about issues that affect them, and it is undeniable that their involvement brings considerable attention to those issues.

Often celebrities in India and Pakistan go on to become politicians. So they can and must be held responsible for their political views, irrespective of their gender/nationality.

Finally, it is important to remember that questioning and dissent are the bedrocks of democracy.

The Constitution, which gives us the right to vote, also places upon us the duty of holding our elected representatives accountable. So whether or not we question celebrities, we must always question the government in power.

Image source: a still from the movie Isn’t It Romantic

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Vijayalakshmi Harish is a book blogger and writer. To paraphrase her librarian, she is a

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