TV Programs and Social Change

Finally, there is a program on TV that challenges us intellectually and morally, forcing us to view why we exist, and why social evils persist in society, if we as a race of intelligent beings have worked on this so long. Yes, Aamir Khan has made a signal contribution to what was called the idiot box  (and rightly so). The muck that passes for programming on most channels shows the intellectual and creative laziness of all involved.

Anyway, coming to the bright spot, in just three weeks, Aamir and his team (Satyamev Jayate) have forced us to think about female foeticide, child abuse and this week, the greed of people disguised as the malignant dowry system. We read in history books that reformers like Raja Rammohan Roy and many others worked to remove social evils like dowry from the Indian society.

What I liked about this show which I watched completely, is its no-nonsense and direct format, which brought tears to everyone's eyes, including Aamir himself. There were 3 or 4 interviews with the participant victims or victors (yes, there was a lady who stood up to dowry demands and exposed it in a sting operation like Tehelka does often. She got proposals from young men who lauded her bravery, and married one of them). The positive news is also important, to show that nothing bad happens to people who find courage to oppose such practices which reduce the girl's parents to poverty, while usually subjecting the girl who is married to life-long abuse. Many such instances are almost criminal in intent and execution, and most are unpardonable.

Also important is the fact that there was a Maulana from Burhanpur who has through action along with the local communinty members, completely eradicated dowry harassment cases from his area. Significantly, the practice of dowry is prevalent in all communities (Christians in Kerala also have the practice, which I discovered during my stay in Calicut), so it needs action from progressive people from all religious backgrounds. This might do more to unite people than empty rhetoric which usually fails miserably. Has failed miserably.

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