Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Satyamev Jayate - Better Than Initial Impressions

It wasn't the media hype or the general excitement among people that made me decide to watch the show 'Satyamev Jayate'. Anything involving Bollywood or cricket celebrities are bound to be hightly hyped and trending in India because of the way these celebrities are literally 'worshipped' (Google on Rajnikanth if you don't get what I mean). It was the theme that I liked - social issues. Not often do you get to see these being discussed on Indian channels and most of the time when they do, it's almost always not satisfactory. They would have missed several vital points or not even touched on the main causes, which I think is basically useless, because if you don't go into root of the problem, you are not solving anything but only finding temporary solutions that won't change anything substantially. So occasionally when these kind of programs come up, although without much hope, I feel like watching them.

I couldn't see all the episodes that have been aired till now since I had exams in between, but the ones I saw didn't fully let me down. I'm not going to write about all of them, but there was this one on domestic violence that was exeptionally well done. I had actually missed it, luckily a friend at Nirmukta brought it to notice.

There were so many aspects of this particular episode that impressed me. Going along the lines of his review:

- A discussion about the social SYSTEM called patriarchy

- In light of the above, the STRUCTURAL oppression of women was glaringly evident in the horrible stories that the guests on the show shared. This is not just individual-on-individual violence, a fact "men's rights" activists overlook.

- A male cop acknowledging how hard it is for women to go to the police - the police itself being a male-dominated, male-identified institution (again - social SYSTEMS!) that "drinks from the same well" - and steps like sensitisation training that can be taken.
- The man at the end who did a brilliant job of explaining the harm that normative masculinity - a.k.a. "the man box" - does.
- Many sombre, perhaps enlightened faces in the all-male audience.

These were highy important strides made in the show. The topic of patriarchy is the least likely to be discussed usually, but here it did. And it was so Awesome to see that! I was nearly teary-eyed. That is what you need to talk about and tackle if you want to really create a change.

This post would be unjustly incomplete if I didn't mention about an amazing personality that I came to know through this episode - Kamla Bhasin. Bhasin is a renowned feminist activist and gender trainer in South Asia. She has written extensively on gender issues. Most notable among her publications are: Borders and Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition, co-authored by Ritu Menon, Rutgers University Press, 1998, and What is Patriarchy? Kali for Women, 1993. I hope you don't miss out her interview during the show, you'll be missing something truly wonderful if you did..

Of course, I don't believe a single show is going to make long-lasting impacts on the mindsets of people who have been conditioned to these oppressive standards and ways of thinking for such a long time. If other channels too bring out more similar programs and keep the awareness-spreading aflame, then we can hope for some good things. Because in India, where people are unwilling to listen to activists and social workers who have been fighting for the very same causes since decades but can be all-attentive when movie stars occasionally come along and say something (no offense meant to Aamir Khan, I'm only stating how things are), maybe television can do some help if used well. Until then it's only going to be like the morning alarm - when it rings you wake up, come into your senses for a brief moment and look at the time, then put the alarm on snooze and go back to sleep till it rings again.

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