Aamir Khan's TV debut aired yesterday and I was shocked to the core, but more of that later. I couldn't watch it when it was first shown in the morning but I did catch it during the night telecast...and aren't I glad that I did!
Satyamev Jayate is a talk show (a broad categorization) that aims to explore social issues in India. The first episode was about female foeticide. Somehow the English term doesn't quite capture the horrific nature of the crime as the Hindi translation "kanya bhroon hatya". You can watch the show on the official website here or on Youtube here.
Here are my views on the show:
- Finally, here is a star who is using his appeal and fame for a good cause - and not to sell fairness creams to gullible (foolish?) young men.
- Loved the way Aamir explained the skewed ratio of boys:girls (1000:914). Even I hadn't got the significance of it the first time.
- Loved that he clarified what determines the sex of a foetus, very plainly.
- Loved that the show maintained a balance between sense and melodrama. (lots of the former, very little of the latter.)
- By showing the different aspects of the problem - trauma to the mother, unholy nexus between doctors and families, how the problem originated and spread, what will the consequences be (to both boys and girls in the future) and how to solve the problem - the show was saved from being a tearjerker "reality" show that dwells on the traumatic rendering of the mothers alone.
- There were some horribly shocking events related on the show - of cruelty, sadism, indifference, greed, ignorance. But what truly shook me was finding out that the whole sex determination test fiasco started as a government-sponsored program, ostensibly "to reduce population". You can watch the expert talk about this in this video here. Apparently, some idiot in the government had the great idea that to prevent families from giving birth to girl after girl in hopes of getting a boy (thereby increasing the population, of course), why not suggest that they test the sex of the baby in the womb and abort it if it is a girl? So you get only boys! Population problem solved, eureka! What in the world were they thinking? Were they thinking at all?
- Also disturbing was the knowledge that in order to fulfil the needs of "desperate" men who have no women to marry, a whole human trafficking system has started with terrible results for the women involved. I, in my naivete, had imagined that if there were fewer women than men, then probably they will be valued more in the "marriage market" and they could "pick the best" of men. How wrong I was!
Thanks Aamir, for opening my eyes. I only hope that the quality and sincerity shown in this episode is maintained in the future episodes too.