SATYAMEV JAYATE: Can Aamir Khan really bring about change?

The actor has met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about a subject he brought up on his show, but we are beginning to wonder if that is going to help

When Aamir Khan made his television debut with Satyamev Jayate, a chat show dealing with social evils, he received much applause from his fans and several cynics. Even usually apathetic politicians suddenly took notice of ground realities and invited him to meet them. Star power, we realised, is far greater than all the efforts social workers have been putting in for years. Aamir met Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to discuss female foeticide, and we applauded. He met a parliamentary panel to share his insight into medical malpractices, and we supported him. Just yesterday (July 16), he met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and union minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik to bring the plight of manual scavengers to their notice. Again, there was much ado about it – the Bollywood actor has managed what social workers haven’t been able to do in decades. At a joint press conference with Wasnik, Aamir said, “Wasnik assured me that his ministry is already working on the matter and that both his ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office will work to eliminate manual scavenging at the earliest.” Wasnik added, “I am glad that Aamir Khan has raised this issue and I believe that the way he has focused on the issue will help create awareness in the society on the matter and we will soon be free of this malpractice.”

“At the earliest”? “Soon be free of this malpractice”? Are we the only ones who don’t believe this? It’s been almost ten weeks since Aamir met Gehlot, and we haven’t heard of anything happening on that front. It’s been a month since he spoke to the panel and there has been no progress on that issue either. We are aware bureaucracy takes time to put things in motion, but the importance of Satyamev Jayate stems from the fact that it has managed to wake up an otherwise snoring government and compelled it to take action… or at least to say it will. If that doesn’t happen, then Satyamev Jayate will only be remembered as Aamir Khan’s first chat show, and not as the harbinger of social change it is being touted as. With two episodes to go this season and the modalities of a second season being worked out, the success of Satyamev Jayate will depend on how rigorously Aamir follows up on these issues after the show has ended.

– With inputs from IANS