INDIA: What Aamir Khan does is good and is done perfectly — Asian Human Rights Commission

AHRC-ART-040-2012.JPGAamir Khan is a topmost name in India’s film industry. I  am not familiar at all with Indian films in recent times but I know his name, as almost everybody does. I had the opportunity to watch his series Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Prevails), available online here: on StarPlus on Sundays.

Aamir Khan emerges here as a good communicator, the type of communicator we need in the media. He introduces topics of enormous social importance. The shows telecast so far deal with the abortion of female fetuses in India, and with child sexual abuse. The information he brings to the public, while being shocking, is the kind of information that the public need to know if much needed changes are to happen and happen soon.

What is most impressive about the show is that he brings before the audience people with daring character, people who have the courage to tell of ugly events that have shattered their lives. The spirit of defiance of these people is perhaps the most important message in this series. It demonstrates the will of the people who by have been unfortunate enough to face very bad and very saddening experiences, who have seen in their own lives the great social evils that exist in their society. They come forward voluntarily before that same society to tell these stories and thus confront these social evils.

This is the kind of confrontation that the society cannot and will not ignore. By creating opportunities for such confrontations, a creative communicator forcefully challenges his society. It is this creative capacity in Aamir Khan that comes out most forcefully, and one wishes that he should do more of this and that he should become a role model who should be imitated.

The word victim often carries an idea of someone who has suffered and has been silenced. However, what we see in this telecast are not such persons but those who wish to talk loudly, in fact very loudly. It is this kind of loud speech from those that the society’s own negligence turned into victims that shows that it is they who also have the capacity to be the redeemers of their society. The power of change lies in the ability of such people to defy the silence that is imposed on them and in this show we see how much will is there in such persons to confront their society. If there is a reason for hope for the future it is in this defiance.

Among those who have come forward to speak was a woman who had been forced to undergo abortions of her children 6 times within 8 years.  The notion of the sacredness of family that is often boastfully talked about is shattered by the words of such women. She of course is merely one out of thousands of others who go through such situations. Another woman describes how, upon seeing one of her children in her carrier, her mother-in-law kicked the infant down the stairs.  The child was only saved because, unbeknownst to the mother-in-law, the child had been strapped to the carrier when her mother was preparing for travel. What that example demonstrates is that such will to kill the female children is a part of a conspiracy of the family rather than an act of a single individual. Yet another woman describes how besides abortions, her face was bitten by her husband, causing severe injury.  In all these instances, the women fight back, rebuild their lives and come forward before courts and the media to fight against such evil.

He also interviews doctors as perpetrators of the abortions, which are done systematically in clinics all over India. The interviews also expose the utter inefficacy of the ethical control of the doctors in India. The medical councils should respond to this damning verdict. Also, such information exposes the defects of the legal system of India, which is beset with miserable delays that defeat the purposes of justice.

The program also shows the consequences of the lack of females, one of which is the trafficking and selling of females from poorer states.

The next broadcast, on child sexual abuse, is equally challenging. The information on 53% of Indian children being abused points to a widespread, societal problem. It challenges all the opinion-makers and socially concerned persons in India. Despite of boasts about religiosity, everyone remains silent before such abuse of their own children. This telecast also portrays characters who are defiant and speaking quite loudly, which is a characteristic of this series. The series is worth being watched by audiences the world over. There is a lot that every kind of opinion maker working to make the world a better place could learn from Aamir Khan’s creative defiance.

Here is the kind of human rights activism that is possible in this age through the media.

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About the author: Basil Fernando is a lawyer and human rights activist. He has been formerly the Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission and currently serves as its Director, Policies and Programmes. The author could be contacted at

Document Type : Article
Document ID : AHRC-ART-040-2012
Countries : India,
Issues : Child rights, Violence against women, Women's rights,