Satyamev Jayate : Are you just watching a show or becoming a change agent?

Satyamev Jayate : Are you just watching a show or becoming a change agent?

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Satyamev Jayate, the Aamir Khan-hosted talk show, went on air recently. The cyber world is full of comments about the pros and cons of doing such a show, its format, its timing, its tone and delivery etc. I thought I would focus on the intent of the show, and see what it means for us as Indians to do a show about about our concerns.

For as long as I can remember, the underbelly of India has been the domain of foreign documentaries, foreign journalists at times enamored by the ‘India is so poor and so exotic’ routine. I don’t mean it as a derogatory remark about the quality of research done by foreigners. I am only saying that we have, by and large, looked at ourselves from the lens of others.

As a nation, we have been ruled and we have been dictated. We have been angry and hurt about it, and we have also been guilty of being indifferent to the privilege of being born in independent India. This, coupled with our daily struggles to get to the top in a world where there are a billion others fighting for the same or similar goals, has meant we as Indians and specially as urban Indians have rarely reflected upon these fundamental questions that govern our identity and existence in depth and from close quarters.

Who are we? What does it mean to be us at this point in history? What does India mean to us? How do we feel about our Indian identity from such a textured identity and context?It appears that the makers of Satyamev Jayate are making us more sensitized to these questions and hoping that, over time, we will begin to find some answers.

Given that the show is created on its own terms (right from channel slots, time slots, distribution ides etc.) and by people who are very successful in their own domains, we can safely assume that the primary motivation for such a show was more about what can we do differently and how much we can push the envelope on the same rather than just the money alone. And that makes the symbolism around this show even more relevant.

The very act of creating such a show in a still developing country is an act of empowerment. A show such as Satyamev Jayate hints at our growing maturity about ourselves and also underlines a subtle coming-of-age cue. It says that if we are honest and adult enough to acknowledge that issues exist and that they do concern us, the resolution can’t be far behind. And for that thought alone must the creators of the show be complemented.

But this is only one part of the story. How we respond to the program beyond the initial online frenzy will tell us about our true growth and maturity. Consider the following for a moment and decide for your self – are you just watching a show or becoming a change agent?

  1. It is our choice at this point whether we adopt this show or not and not our fate, given the plethora of programming options on TV on a Sunday morning. If in spite of the alternatives, we watch the program or even its’ re-runs and/or YouTube updates, it is worth examining our own deeper intent. What draws us to a program that critics might say washes our dirty linen in public? Is it because we understand only too well that the ideologue of the common man standing on the sideline is dying, and that if we and our thoughts are to be counted, we must speak up, however frightening that thought might be?
  2. It is probably the easiest thing for us to point fingers and write status updates about how one show is not going to change the world and we will surely kick off a thread of comments, as also ‘likes’ on our Facebook pages. But beyond the immediate veneer of updating, is there a bigger shift happening? Are we collectively checking out our own stances on issues that impact us and by commenting, critiquing, liking, are we taking our own baby steps towards greater involvement into building a better tomorrow?

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NGI November 2013