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Monthly Archives: May 2012

The title of the post is on the Indian emblem; it’s our motto. It’s a universal philosophy, as most of us would agree.

Indian superactor, Aamir Khan, has created an incredible buzz with a new talk show, titled ‘Satyamev Jayate’ where he talks about social issues in India–addressing the problem, creating awareness, discussing solutions and giving social issues an unprecedented platform in India. Many have criticised his astronomical fee per episode contradicting his ‘social work’ agenda. But here’s my take on it.

I don’t think that by creating this show, we need to dump the social change agenda on Aamir Khan’s shoulders. Sure, he gets paid for it. But what’s wrong in it? You get paid for the work you do, right? Don’t people in non-profits get paid? I am very bored with this trend of bashing every new idea or thought, lest we look uncool–to follow a mass celebrity’s praises, no way! Why is it cool to criticise everything without appreciating the efforts? It demotivates many who do not want to do anything about what is wrong because they cannot bear the negative words that many insensitives write. Trolls online are a version of the same.

How many of these people who criticise others are actually doing something positive? How many are doing something positive as an ongoing effort instead of claiming ONE idea/action of fame?

Back to our topic.

I don’t care if Aamir Khan is paid millions for this show. I don’t care if his tears are fake or not. I don’t care if this is a business venture for him. I don’t care about any other conspiracy theories about this show or about him. Reason? It’s not about him; it’s about the stories. Those are real people, with real tragedies and real problems. What have you thought about them?

It makes me mad happy when I see these social problems addressed. The fact that Aamir Khan addresses them IS the most important thing (fortunately or unfortunately). What kind of people have WE become? If a movie star doesn’t address these issues, would we have never considered them? If an ordinary person spoke about the same issues, the impact will never be the same.

With my rural work experience and as we have read many times, we know that television is an immensely powerful medium. Many naiive people treat it seriously; men and women follow the fashion of TV actresses in the soaps, many others pay attention to the storylines and lessons; people also commit suicides if their favourite character (in a soap) dies. This is how India is obsessed with TV.

If in this obsession, it takes an Aamir Khan to awaken us, then why not?

My only hope is that the wave of activism is long-term and not temporary. We get so numb, so fast. I hope we carry these stories in our hearts and remember them everyday.

I’m happy that social issues (child sexual abuse, burden of big fat weddings and killing of the girl-child etc) are receiving attention in such a big way. I am also happy that it is breaking the stereotype that villages are the epicentre for ‘backward’ problems. Villages aren’t the problem–illiteracy is. Illiteracy is not the lack of a school education; it is the lack of a value system–the spine of our being. No school can compensate for it or replace it. Many such illiterate people have filled our cities and our neighborhoods.

Satyamev Jayate inspires me. It tells me that moments when I felt that I was fighting a lonely battle, I must not give up. One day, it will make a difference. 

I’m filling out a form. It asks me “What is the inspiration for what you do?”

I started to make a numbered list of the more obvious ones on my mind. But then, something struck me. I try to avoid using words such as ‘hate’ and ‘anger’ but I noticed that I had used the word ‘anger’ twice.

I wondered if that would be suitable to admit on the forms. When I thought about those moments, I realised that nothing else defines them better than ‘anger’. But I turned that anger into inspiration. Instead of dwelling on the negative, I used it to turn my life around.

First was the anger during the 2008 Bombay terrorist attack incident. I remember sitting in the early hours of morning, watching TV helplessly and feeling this anger take over me. When I tried to understand my anger, there was a profound realisation: I had no right to be angry if I did not DO anything constructive about the world around me.

And this anger gave birth to the 8-Day Academy.

When I watched this talk by Shirin Juwaley today, it made me angry. The hypocrisy in our society and the narrow-mindedness of our people are enough to make anyone hopeless. I then asked myself, “How can I channel this anger into something positive?” That is the only way to make the anger to go away.

I made some notes for my TEDxShekhavati preparation. I know that this frustration will give birth to something more positive. I cannot wait to see what happens!