The human factor

It is both ironic and amusing that it took an actor from Bollywood to shine a light on the yawning gaps in Indian journalism. It shames me a little to acknowledge this but Aamir Khan through Satyamev Jayate has done what us hacks should have been doing over and over again. Had we been drawing attention to the unspeakable and unspoken of horrors of Indian society in more robust tones, we may perhaps have not seen a 'khap' in Uttar Pradesh daring to ban women from going out in the evenings last week. Or the horrific stripping of a teenaged girl by what seemed like an ordinary group of young men in Guwahati. The smiles on their faces as they tore the clothes off the helpless, young girl in full view of a camera were scary and could have come straight out of Satyamev Jayate.

If Aamir Khan has come in for some snarky criticism and snide analysis, he should pay it no heed because it comes from journalists who are jealous of his ability to talk about, in the most civilised way, things that we ignore. If you have lived in India all your life, you learn that there are things about Indian society that are so awful that the only way to deal with them is to look the other way. So we walk past the signs advertising clinics that use ultrasound machines to kill baby girls while they are still in their mother's wombs. We ignore the statistics that tell us that every other Indian child has been sexually abused and that more than sixty per cent have been abused by a close relative.

We ignore domestic violence unless it happens to someone we know and even then we try to keep it quiet. And, as for repugnant acts of untouchability that continue to be practised daily against Dalits, we disregard them even when they happen in our own kitchens. So thank you Aamir Khan for recognising the need to draw attention to social evils that may have disappeared long ago if we in the media had made them socially unacceptable by drawing as much attention to them as, for instance, we have done to the election of the President of India.

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