Let’s face it. There’s nothing Promethean about actor Aamir Khan’s television debut Satyamev Jayate. In the first show he said nothing about female foeticide that has not been in the public domain already. The numbers (the 1000:914 male-female ratio) have been discussed to death. The role of the ultrasound machines and doctors in female foeticide is not exactly news.
Aamir’s show takes a rather simplistic view of an issue that is deeply embedded in the socio-cultural history of many parts of the country. Ending sonography tests won’t certainly end the murder of the girl child in the country. People will find other ways to commit the crime — shift to post-natal killings from pre-natal killings for instance. They are hard-wired to hate the girl child.
However, for all you know, the show might succeed in addressing the issue like no other initiative did. Why? It is amazingly refreshing in the way it engages us all. There’s a touch of serenity to the way the actor presents the issue before the audience. He makes you a partner in his initiative and does not aim to paint you as one of the sides in a conflict. It’s unlike anything we have had in recent times.
The maturity in the approach is striking. Compare it to the high decibel anti-corruption movement of Team Anna and Baba Ramdev’s campaign on black money. Both aimed at manufacturing public anger and cash in on it while addressing serious issues. Abusive language, intemperate behaviour were par for the course. The crassness of the exercise was too visible. The effort was to manipulate the public sentiment. Aamir does it too but in a much more subtle way.
The Anna movement, by default or design, sought to create division among people. The media helped amply by manufacturing a ‘us vs them’ scenario. Politicians were painted as popular hate figures and at some point it was difficult to make out whether the movement was against corruption or the political class. Ramdev — God knows what he is up to — sought to follow the same strategy.
Such an approach ignores the fact that serious issues are, well, serious and need the involvement of all, not only of the politicians. It overlooks the fact that corruption is a complex issue and exists in many indecipherable hues in society. It demands better, intelligent approach in handling. Similar is the case of black money. Neither could be handled through aggressive, partisan debate and public show of anger.
Aamir’s show avoids that trap carefully. It seeks to inform and engage as well without letting the decibel levels shoot through the roof. It takes effort to make the audience understand the subject and develop an informed opinion. This is the correct approach, though we could have done with some more information.
The actor does not want to be an entertainer, which members of Team Anna wanted to be. When you are playing to the crowds, desperate to seek their attention, you tend lose sight of the bigger goal. This is where Aamir scores easily. It helps that he features in movies that carry a message and has a reputation for being a no-nonsense man.
The actor met Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today and discussed the issue of female foeticide. On his show on Sunday, he had shown garbs of a sting operation which had caught doctors facilitating pre-natal killing of girls. Gehlot has promised action against the errant doctors.
Aamir’s effort needs to be applauded. He has raised an issue and walked the extra mile to ensure that it heads somewhere. He might fail — the doctors involved are powerful people with strong connections — but that does not take away any credit from him. He has shown the way to fight for a good cause.