Actor-filmmaker Sanjay Khan has urged all Indians not to look at each other through the "narrow prism of religion", and urged the government to stop use of the word 'minorities'. Khan said this here on Monday while unveiling his new book 'Assalamualaikum Watan', which traces the role of Muslims in shaping India's heritage and encourages Indian Muslims to join the mainstream. The book was launched by Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and state Medical Education and Culture Minister Amit Deshmukh.
Through his book, Khan urged Indians to "stop looking at each other from the narrow prism of religion".
He also urged the government to "banish the word 'minorities', as it comes with a different meaning". Calling his book an honest attempt to answer some quintessential questions which have remained overlooked over the years, the author said Muslims in India today represent a population of 172 million individuals. "As Indian Muslims, we must feel tremendous pride, a sense of empowerment and responsibility in this fact, because we serve as a trajectory to the compass of achievement for all Muslims in the world," said Khan, who is known for his roles in films like "Dosti", "Ek Phool Do Mali" and "Mela". "We are not immigrants in our motherland; we are the sons and daughters of the soil. It's time my fellow brothers and sisters reclaim that spirit of the soil," the actor said.
He said Muslim women should be encouraged to engage themselves shoulder to shoulder with the men to keep their equality and share of education and positions.
The veteran actor, who directed and starred in the TV drama series "The Sword of Tipu Sultan", said he has done considerable research and unearthed a compelling dossier on the advent of Muslims in India. According to Khan, his book gives sufficient weightage to the role played by the community in nation-building be it= in architecture, art, science, music, technology or simply governance. "At first an Indian, then an author and last a Muslim," Khan said, adding he implores that all Indians see minorities as 'Indians' and forget every other new-age tag. On the occasion, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said Khan has taken the ideology of a secular India ahead. "We are all aware of the contribution of Muslims to the development and overall shaping of the country. Hindus and Muslims have been residing in peace and harmony," he said.
"But many attempts are being made to create a rift between the two religions, but fail to succeed each time. I hope the book encourages Muslims of the country to empower themselves," he said.
He urged state Culture Minister Amit Deshmukh to turn Khan's dream of having a grand film made on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj into a reality. On the occasion, Amit Deshmukh said, "I feel the country is currently going through an unfortunate phase and an Indian like me would have been happy if it wasn't true."
"We can't think of India without legendary personalities like A P J Abdul Kalam, A R Rahman, Madhubala, among others. This ideology is reflected in the book as well," he said.
"I hope the book is read by as many people as possible in the country as well as outside India, who'll understand the core message of the book," he added. Khan will soon also be launching the Indian Muslim Socio-Economic Trust (IMSET), an apolitical body which will engage pre-eminently successful Muslims from every state, including captains of the industry and tycoons in their respective fields of expertise.