Addressing what is a longstanding complaint of many people - why don't famous personalities, including sportspersons speak on sensitive issues related to the society? - former India pacer Irfan Pathan said it boils down to how secure a person of influence feels to be able to voice his opinion and make a difference.
"Ideally, if cricketers or sports stars can come out and talk about issues plaguing society, then it will only take the country forward. But simply saying 'hamara desh mahan hai' won’t help. We need to walk the talk," said Irfan on Raunak Kapoor's Instagram live show, 'Beyond The Field'.
"If you ask why others don’t talk about sensitive issues, then I feel they have insecurities. For example, a commentator ends up losing his job for praising the opposition because a film star tweets against him. These are insecurities. So, if we can assure them security then they will come out and talk."
Irfan's case is different. The now-retired paceman hasn't shied away from expressing himself. Like recently, he opined how racism "is not just restricted to the skin colour" on Twitter, giving his two cents on the issue that has re-triggered protests since the killing of an Afro-American, George Floyd, by a white policeman in the USA on May 25.
Even when that tweet didn't go down well with a certain section of people on Twitter, Irfan didn't take a back seat and in another post, added, "my opinions are always as an Indian and for India, I will not stop."
"You can only build your image on social media if you have a thick skin and are real. As a social influencer and a person who has represented India at the highest level, I will always speak of unity," said the 35-year-old, who played 27 Tests, 120 ODIs and 24 T20Is for India.
"I try to keep my life private but bring my thoughts to the people so that my country can benefit from it. If I don’t bring people together after the media tries to incite us to fight, then the fact that I played for India holds no value."
"For example, when I had tweeted about the Jamia, I read and re-read, thought about it, and spoke to students as well before coming out and expressing concern about it," added Irfan, citing the example of when he voiced his opinion on the police lathi-charge against several students of Jamia Millia Islamia during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.