Satyameva Jayate, which literally translates to 'Truth Stands Invincible' but is popularly known as 'Truth Alone Triumphs'
In the past month and a half, it has gone on from being a phrase on the National Emblem to the name of a 'revolutionary' television show hosted by the actor/social activist Aamir Khan. The show deals with one social issue in every episode. It has dealt with Female Feticide, Child Sex Abuse, Dowry, Unethical Doctors, Inter Caste Marriages and Disability.
The show is being touted as being 'revolutionary'. It is said to have made the 'idiot box' intelligent and smart. People wake up early (11am) just to watch this show! Well, sorry to burst your social activist bubble but some of the presumptions you have about the show are just myths.
Myth 1: The show reaches out to everyone and unifies Indians against one social evil every Sunday.
In India, television penetration is less than 25%. It means more than 750 million people in India have never seen Satyamev Jayate. So claiming that it is unifying India against a social evil is not correct. It is infact not reaching out to EVERYONE. To compare it with other shows, a newspaper article stated that Kaun Banega Crorepati's all seasons had higher average viewership than any episode of Satyamev Jayate. Yes, even the season that SRK hosted. Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chasma is almost as famous as Satyamev Jayate.
Myth 2: It's not just the show, its the discussions that take place at everyone's house after the show that are the real contribution of the show.
Discussions don't take place in all homes. It is only a marginal number of homes in which meaningful discussions take place. Also, the homes in which discussions are taking place are the homes which would not follow any of the social evils even if the show was not aired! Discussions would have been fruitful if they happened in a home where change was required. A 'modern' home, where all family members follow social norms and are, to a greater extent, ethical, will not really benefit from just a discussion.
Myth 3: Satyamev Jataye is not biased towards any side and give a complete picture of the situation.
The show takes a side. I am not sure why a show which is discussing real problems in the society needs to be a monologue. Why not give the other party a chance to explain their side of the story? Ofcourse, people who ask for dowry and kill unborn children are never going to defend their actions but what about doctors and offices which apparently 'discriminate' against disabled people? I am sure they have a logical and reasonable argument for all the accusations that are made against them on the show. Bring them in. Make it a meaningful discussion and not a sob fest. In a few episodes, there have been grave factual errors. Statistics are often interpreted in such a way that they support their cause.
Myth 4: Aamir Khan/ Satyamev Jayate were instrumental in the getting the The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 passed in the parliament.
If you really believe an episode on television is all it takes to push the parliament to pass a legislation then you are mistaken. Social activists do make a significant contribution to some legislations but Satyamev Jataye had nothing to do with the passing of this Bill. I have been told that a few NGOs had been demanding for this legislation to be passed for more than 5-6 years now. They are the ones who should get the credit for it. Their work in the field is substantial and has been going on for a long time.
Myth 5: Aamir Khan is the Anna Hazare that works.
Aamir Khan has been involved in many social issues over the years. Be it the rehabilitation for people affected by Narmada Canal or Gujarat Riots or Farmer suicides. I was really happy when I saw that a 'Star' was making good use of his power. I was disappointed when I later realised that his interest in the first two issues diminished once Fanna released and in the third issue once Peepli Live released. My respect for him was revived when he went to support Anna Hazare but instead of shouting anti-government slogans, he urged people to stand for elections and vote for the right people. Alas, it was just a one off incident.
I am often accused of being anti Aamir and I don't disagree. I don't like him and this might be reflected in the post. I have tried to give reasons for most of the things stated so as to convince you that I don't dislike the show because I don't like Aamir. I think the show is given more credit then it deserves. Just like Aamir Khan. I would have loved it if Aamir would have encouraged people to participate in the democracy and improve the system from within instead of fighting it. Awareness is important but implementing laws is an altogether different ball game. People now watch an episode and send a SMS to a ridiculous question at the end of it and they feel that their work towards the society is done. If Aamir Khan has the power and the conviction to bring about change in the people and the society and if he has the support of a lot of people, why no contest elections or even support a candidate whom best represents his views? For eg in Hollywood, look at Arnold.
Preparing a script and making a show is easy. Everyone can whine. It's working to solve the problems that separate the men from the boys (or the women from the girls). Working on these issues in real life is difficult. There are a lot of organisations out there who are working tireless to solve problems. They do not get enough credit for their work. They are the unsung heroes of the country.
P.S. : I am, in no way suggesting that Satyamev Jayate has done nothing good. I am also not saying that it is not working for the society. I am just saying that for the amount of attention and praise it is getting, it is not doing that big a job. There is scope for a lot of improvement.
P.P.S. : For all those who tweet about Satyamev Jayate, #SMJ is incorrect. It's Satyam Eva Jayate and not Satya Meva Jayate.