Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, who has ceased to be the mascot for the 'Incredible India' campaign after 10 years, on Friday said he respects the government's decision to "discontinue" his services while making it clear that he never charged anything for the task.
"It is the prerogative of the government to decide whether they need a brand ambassador for any campaign, and if so, who that ambassador should be.
"I respect the decision of the government to discontinue with my services. I am sure they will take all appropriate steps to do what is best for the country," Aamir said in a statement, a day after the Tourism Ministry said his contract for the campaign was over.
Aamir Khan reacts to being dropped as mascot of 'Incredible India' campaign. File Pic/AFP
Aamir said it had been an "honour and a pleasure" for him to be the "Brand Ambassador for the Incredible India campaign for the past 10 years."
"I was happy to be of service to my country, and will always be available for it. I would like to clarify that all public service films I have done till date have all been free of any cost to me. It is always an honour for me to be of service to my country, and this is how it will always be.
"... Whether I am brand ambassador or not, India will remain Incredible, and that's the way it should be," he said.
While many see Aamir's removal as the face of 'Incredible India' a consequence of his comments on the intolerance issue, the tourism ministry yesterday said they had not hired the actor but had left it to an agency to do that.
"Our contract was with the McCann Worldwide agency for 'Atithi Devo Bhava' campaign. The agency had hired Aamir for the job. Now the contract with the agency is over. Ministry has not hired Aamir.
"It was the agency which has hired him. Since the contract with the agency is no more, automatically the arrangement with the actor no longer exists," Union Minister of State for Tourism Mahesh Sharma said.
Two months ago, at an event here, Aamir had said that his wife Kiran Rao had asked if they should move out of the country, as she feared for the safety of their children in a climate of insecurity.