Ever since its debut on the small screen last Sunday, Aamir Khan’s show “Satyamev Jayate” has been generating a lot of buzz. Accolades and criticism is pouring in equally for this show which promises to bring the social evils plaguing our country into the glare of public scrutiny. The first episode spoke of female foeticide, an ugly practice that has contributed to the highly skewed sex ratio of our country. AK, as the host of the show, spoke to three women who have suffered abuse, and in one case, had her face gnawed and bitten by her husband, for the so-called crime of having borne girl children. One of these women is a doctor herself and married to family of doctors and academicians. Hearing their spine chilling tales of horror, one can scarcely imagine that we belong to a land where some of the most revered and prayed to deities are female. There are also conversations with journalists who tried to expose such malpractices and researchers who have studied this ugly phenomena and are aware of the even more terrifying fallout of a skewed sex ratio. The episode also commended the efforts of an official whose untiring efforts led to the gender ratio improving in a small Indian village.
Question is, can such a show actually improve anything? Many are criticising AK for trying to be the next Oprah and are highlighting the fact that he has charged a hefty sum for this show. Maybe he should have done it for free. Maybe not. But does that really matter? Celebrities have made forays onto the small screen earlier as well – Salman, Sharukh, Amitabh, Madhuri, Karan Johar and many others – and they have also charged through the nose. One might argue that AK is at least trying to change the society instead of just hosting some game show. Again a valid argument. There is always the risk that AK’s personality and presence overshadows the issue at hand but judging from the first episode that may not be a big problem. So how do all these things answer the question at the beginning of this paragraph.
My answer will be is that they don’t. The change that this show can bring about is not to be effected by the sum AK charges or the tears that he sheds during the show. It can come about due to us, the viewers. The show airs at 11 am on Sunday mornings. Do we realise the significance of that? Sunday morning is that one day and time of the week that one can reasonably expect families to be sitting around the TV together. By airing this show at that slot, there is a very good chance that the topics get discussed around the lunch table or in the party or get together in the evening. And that’s how the change can come about. Through our own heightened awareness about what is right and what is wrong. Our willingness and enthusiasm in spreading this awareness and in translating this awareness into actual practice. Change can never take place if we keep ignoring reality just because it is not ‘our’ reality.
One probable solution for female foeticide lies in women empowerment. If you know your maid is not sending her daughter to school and is instead making her work somewhere, try to convince her not to do so. If possible help out a bit by way of contributing to the fees or even by offering to help the kid with her studies. If you hear your neighbors or friends demeaning a girl, remonstrate with them. Encourage the women in your life, be it your mother, your sister, your wife or your daughter, to spread their wings. If you are a woman, start respecting yourself first. Much of these practices have their roots in a social conditioning that teaches women to suppress themselves. This can never lead to a healthy society. Men and women are the essential cogs of the wheel of life. Without one, the other can never succeed.