Of Satyamev Jayate and social change – Can a TV show change India?

Satyamev Jayate – the TV show with a difference has caused us to sit up and take notice, to actually dedicate our Sunday mornings to a show that talks of India and its problems and their solutions.
Within a month of its release, it has become the most talked about show, with the blogosphere buzzing with good words for the show, with facebook and twitter users writing about it .

Unprecedented TRP’s , governments swinging into rapid action, and knee jerk reactions from all around have only helped the show. The response is simply tremendous.

But now, as the dust begins to settle, it is perhaps time to analyse why the show has worked so well and whether it can bring about social change that is here to stay.

I believe the show clicked because it gave millions of Indians hope. In a country, where the Government gives a damn, where NGO’s are just another business venture, where Arnab Goswami scares you every night with his antics and controversies, and where Barkha Dutt’s news stories are as good as promotional ads for political parties, HOPE is a million dollar emotion.

The way the show ends on a positive note with examples of change in places not heard of before, places that Delhi won’t bother about, slowly, very slowly, we start to believe “Yes Indian can!”.

But, like all good things, I’m afraid that this show too, shall come to an end one day. And it is highly unlikely that Mr. Amir Khan will convert it into a money spinning venture and come up with new seasons of the show.

What then?
When there is no longer a Mr. Amir Khan to make us think on Sundays, will we still care about social change?

Here is where I fear the worst.
WE WON’T.

We, the common people, are so battered and bruised by life, that all our childhood dreams of working for social change have been kept on the backburner for a long time. So, when this revolutionary show came up, we felt that here was someone who was “doing something”. And we felt we too were “doing something” by just being an audience . It was the perfect way for atonement for our sins, for our inaction. The show gives us a feel-good feeling, a certain moral superiority, a ‘yes! I have watched the show and done my bit’ feeling that puts our conscience at ease.

But didn’t we actually know about these problems already? Don’t these incidents happen everywhere around us? In our own neighbourhood?
Why on earth did we need an Amir Khan to wake our sleeping conscience? Here is why. Because we are Indians. We like a bit of a hype, drama and hypocrisy. We are folks that admire the sexually liberated West, and at the same time, expect our brides to be virgins. We excel at hypocrisy.

I’m afraid while we choke on our Sunday coffee and watch the show teary-eyed, no real change happens on the inside. We will still take dowries, we will still kill female fetuses, we will still discriminate on the basis of caste.

But I’m no compulsive pessimist. And I’m certainly no hypocrite. I still love the show, and like millions of Indians, I watch the show for atonement for my sins. I am moved by the examples of real change that the show showcases. And yes, I will continue to watch the show. But what you, I and millions of Indians need to make sure is that, after this show ends, the change should not. India has to grow from inside out. Indians have to grow from inside out. We must introspect. We must think. And most importantly, we must act.

If each Indian vows to shun dowry, discrimination on the basis of sex and caste, and everything that is evil, I believe change shall come.

Satyamev Jayate is a TV show. And it makes us think. And a show can do only so much.

Real change comes with us – we, the people.

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6 comments on “Of Satyamev Jayate and social change – Can a TV show change India?

  1. Interesting. It can be frustrating when we want change and we see people being complacent. It is tough to watch what we know is wrong continue. But don’t lost hope. Until your last breath you have Maybe. The possibility that things can change and be different. Stay with it. Be that voice that people hear and want to act. Be that voice that tells the truth and inspires people to stand up. Stay with it.

  2. Thank you for stopping by my blog. And thank you for the inspiring comment:)

    I believe if we all choose to ‘be the change’, there is still hope:)

  3. Jamie says:

    Hypocrisy definitely rules in India, but then it does in most places in the world! Your example is perfect: admiring the freedom of women in the west whilst wanting to marry virgins just about sums it up (a local friend of mine believes western women in bikinis are prostitutes). This hypocrisy demonstrates the bigger problem: the inward-looking attitude to life of (some/many but not all) Indians. Living life in the ‘now’ with no consideration for the future or the bigger picture.

    Until people start looking outside the tiny perimeter of their own little bubble, there won’t be much change. A good example of this is the disgusting state of rubbish in India. Only the other day I was walking down a street and a woman appeared at the first floor window and threw a plastic bag full of rubbish right across my path. It landed on the shore for the sea to wash it away. As we know this is not uncommon but the sad fact is the woman has no concept of the results of her behaviour. She has disposed of the rubbish and that’s the problem sorted. What happens to the rubbish next is not important to her.

    This kind of “I’m alright, Jack” attitude is not uncommon. I see self-serving individuals with their hand in the till at all levels of business in India. Far better for the manager to make a quick buck through a bribe than to consider the long-term benefits of honesty and customer loyalty. I speak from experience here, of course. I’ve been stitched up countless number of times where businessmen move the golaposts in order to get a bit of extra money out of me. Again, it’s all about the ‘now’: what can I get out of life NOW, with no consideration to the long-term effects. Repeat business from me, which is far more cost-effective in the long run, is not important NOW if I can make an extra buck NOW.

    The only way forward is for individuals to break from this insular bubble, to look forward and consider their relationship to the surrounding environment and the impact of their actions in the future.

    If I behave in this way, how will it impact my neighbour?
    If I fill up the city’s river with my rubbish, what is the environmental impact of my behaviour? Not the immediate environmental impact, but the environmental impact for my grand children.
    If I make an extra buck by adding some charges on the final bill, how will that impact repeat custom from that potential loyal customer in the future?

    Once again a well written article and nice to see someone, somewhere, admitting the truth of the matter and making people aware of it. No doubt your post and my response will upset people, but it’s the only way we’re going to get people to stop looking at themselves in the mirror.

  4. Thank you Jamie. Your comments on the blog are always so enlightening. You always leave me with something to think about – fodder for some future blogpost 😀

  5. Yet another thought provoking post Subh…

    I liked the way you’ve concluded. Be it throwing rubbish at the wrong places or indulging in corruption, a change is possible only us, we – the people. We all have a social and civic responsibility. Instead of cribbing let’s do our bit in bringing a change. You have done your bit to keep it going.

    P.S.: Good to see you back after quite some time. 🙂

  6. Hi Allwin. Thank you for the kind words. Wrote this piece almost after a month. Creative block!

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