Satyamev Jayate : Is the issue the star?
The social awareness overdrive that has been created by the Satyamev Jayate is remarkable. The superstar effect seems to have worked with the masses, at least from what the initial responses to the show are. While there is a positive ambience about social issues, one needs to contemplate on two major questions. One, aren't there similar shows which are more detailed? Two, is it more about the star or is the issue the star?
Let me at the outset mention that I have anything but praise for Mr Khan for his show. I applaud and admire his initiative. He might have made a fortune out of the show but that cannot take away the initiative that he has taken for the show to work. Considering that he is one amidst the very few superstars who takes an earnest interest in social affairs, it is something that needs to be appreciated. However, on the same weekend, there was another show running titled "Saving the Ganga", coincidentally on network 18. This was a notch better than the Khan episode because it addressed a pertinent issue over multiple episodes. It zoomed in one major issue, traversed across the Ganga from source to end and brought about real life solutions to the issue. This issue is being addressed upon various episodes and it is still running.
This is what I learned from it:
One of the major reasons for the continuous destruction of the mighty river is the building of dams and rapid urbanization. Rapid urbanization and the building of over 300 dams across the river have crippled the river. The river's natural course has been disturbed due to these developments across the river and the irresponsible corporatization has worsened the river's woes. While the dams are needed for development, the inadequate compensation packages to the residents along the belt have also ensured improper displacement of land. In addition, there has been sewage leakage across the river belt and consistent pollution by industries. The common man's irresponsible habits have also contributed in ripping apart the Ganga.
So what are people doing about all this?
Not much. Despite the setting up of the National Ganga River Basin Authority(NGRBA) a couple of decades ago, the progress has been pretty shoddy. Daring public crusaders bring up this issue every single time. Professor Agarwal is point in case. An ex IIT professor turned sanyasin, he has been on fast for the state to act on the Ganga. His indefinite fast has had an effect but nothing of the effect that needs to save the Ganga. Public crusaders can go only thus far, the power of the corporates is so immense that environment and holy rivers are taken for a toss.
So what has this got to do with Satyamev Jayate?
It has lot to do with it. It tells me two major things. One, the idea of Satyamev Jayate has been around everywhere around us, it's just that we didn't bother to even look at it. I deliberately based my entire article on the TV show, and realized it gave me as much info or more than what Mr Khan could give on his show. There are many shows across the news spectrum that offers such detailed facts about the issues concerning the society. The DD channels are prime examples of this with significant coverage on such issues, the presentations lack the suave but the content is good. The important aspect about these shows is that they delve on a particular issue for a longer period of time. This provides them the scope to address multiple angles of an issue, something which is required for balance to be achieved. Moreover, they also have a sustained campaign over one single issue in order to bring the issue to the fore over a long period of time. This brings me to my second point.
I find that most people ended up watching this show on Sunday morning not because they prioritized the issues concerned, it's because they want to see what Aamir Khan does. Its more because the star is showing us something, so we have to see what it is. It is to see the patriotic side of the actor Actor Aamir more than the issue of female feticide. Without the actor angle, female feticide would be in the backburner much like any other major social issue. This attitude needs to be addressed. In a society such as ours which is driven by only personalities, the issues always remain at the back unless the personality brings it about. That is the at the root of negligence of social issues, we lay too much emphasis on personalities rather than issues. Society needs to evolve to look beyond the stardom and look at issues as stars, not the other way around
The idea of Satyamev Jayate would be only fulfilled if we can evolve from one Sunday morning star discourse to having social issues at the crux of our daily discourse.
Kudos to Aamir but as a society, we have a long way to go to achieve Satyamev Jayate.
(The author can be reached on his Facebook page)
More about Sriram Balasubramanian
Sriram Balasubramanian is a Journalist, voracious reader, avid Blogger, social enthusiast and a believer in excellence not mediocrity. With an inherent passion towards journalism and writing, he believes in playing the "Straight Drive" all the time. Besides this, he has a MS in Engineering Management and has played Chess for Singapore.
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