Good at heart

Aamir Khan's show could do with better research. But the social transformation agenda at its core is creditable

Aamir Khan's television show Satyamev Jayate has made waves by taking up contemporary, contentious issues, not in the format of popular soaps but in a straightforward "talking to the people" mode. Each show has raised hackles in some quarter or the other. Feminists have been bothered by aspects of the episodes on marriage and "sex-selective abortions", while doctors are up in arms against what they feel is unjustified maligning of their profession. Others feel that Khan is doing this for mere publicity and some have dubbed him India's Oprah Winfrey, who gets people to display their lives and troubles on national TV, giving him an opportunity to emote.

The show comes at a time when many important actors, such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, have realised the potential of television. It is not that these actors need more publicity, but TV gives them a forum to build a different persona for themselves a persona that is their own and not only that of the many film characters they play. Television is attractive because it takes you straight into the viewer's home. In the case of Aamir Khan's show, the topics have been such that even Doordarshan has found it worthwhile to tie up with him. There is a social transformation agenda at the heart of the show, which is creditable. India needs transforming especially in the areas that Khan has chosen to bring forth for discussion. He is right when he says that we have a rapidly changing society, a huge youth population (the demographic dividend that may turn into a demographic disaster if we do not pay it sufficient attention) and people pushing the envelope, whether in the rapid exploitation of resources to make money, or in demanding personal freedom in families and relationships. The exposure to choices, even alternative lifestyles, through various types of media leaves many without a moral compass. A little handholding would not be amiss. There are thousands of people out there looking for answers, solutions and help, and television the hidden persuader can make you not only buy things but also develop a viewpoint.

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