Man gets FB ‘likes’ for sex with minor #WTFnews


, TNN | May 22, 2013,

MUMBAI: Noted gay rights activist Harish Iyer has approached the Mumbai police objecting to an offensive post on a popular social networking site that boasts of how the person who uploaded the post had sex with a minor. “Just had a sex with teen 15 year… boy… was awesome exp… Sunday to acha gaya (sic),” reads the post.

Iyer has made an online complaint to the cyber cell of the Mumbai police and has received a complaint number. Till Tuesday evening, the police had not acknowledged receiving the complaint, so TOI is withholding the name under which the post was made.

Sodomizing a minor, sexually harassing him, or engaging in “indecent or obscene representations of a child” on any media forum are offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The post was removed by the website after many users reported it as offensive. However, before it was removed, it received nine “likes” and comments from people asking for the 15-year-old to be offered to them. The comments included graphic details and the original poster replied to one of the comments that he had recently moved to Mumbai.

Iyer is a known face against child sexual abuse. He shared his painful experience of surviving abuse on the TV showSatyamev Jayate‘. He has taken a screenshot of the offensive online conversation. He subsequently sent an online complaint over the police website on Tuesday.

“Given the widespread prejudice against people who belong to sexualities other than heterosexuals, I would also like to add that as a 34-year-old homosexual man who is a survivor of child sexual abuse, I can state that the Indian LGBTIQ community strongly condemns sexual abuse; particularly child sexual abuse,” states Iyer’s complaint. He requests the police to “take appropriate action against the above-mentioned post and everyone who has commented on the same”, including those who were “soliciting sex with a 15-year-old”. Iyer said this could be a chance to nab a group that routinely solicits sex with minors.

Child rights activists said children are increasingly being exposed to threats in cyberspace. Pooja Taparia, of NGO Arpan, said, “I think there’s a lot happening online. Children are vulnerable and easy prey.” She said, “We advise parents to refrain from putting up portrait photos of children as there is no protection against people using them.”

Cyber cell officials said they had yet to receive Iyer’s complaint. When TOI forwarded a copy to them, the official in charge, Mukund Pawar, said he would look into the matter.

 

Coventry honour killing victim Surjit Athwal remembered #Vaw


Surjit Kaur Athwal

THE ‘honour killing‘ of a Coventry mum has been remembered at a memorial service at the House of Commons.

The 14th anniversary of the disappearance of Surjit Kaur Athwal was marked at the event hosted by MP Stephen Timms – which called for a public inquiry into the issue of so-called honour killings and ‘outsourced’ killings affecting British citizens.

Mum-of-two Surjit disappeared after going with her mother-in-law, Bachan Athwal, to a family wedding in India in December 1998.

Her body was never found, but her mother-in-law apparently boasted to relatives she had arranged for her to be strangled and dumped in a river – after Surjit had an affair with a colleague and said she wanted a divorce.

For years, Surjit’s death was concealed by her husband, Sukhdave Athwal, and her mother-in-law, but the pair were finally convicted of her murder at the Old Bailey in 2007 after a tireless campaign by Surjit’s Coventry family for justice.

It was a landmark case, the first in UK legal history, of an outsourced honour killing being criminally prosecuted in the UK against people who plot a murder, while the actual killing is carried out abroad.

The people who actually carried out the murder have never been caught.

Surjit’s brother, Jagdeesh Singh Dhillon, from Coventry, still campaigns for police and politicians to do more about honour killings in the Asian community.

At Wednesday’s event, he called for the British Government to press the Indian Government to bring Surjit’s outstanding murderers in Panjab to justice, and has requested a follow-up meeting with the Foreign Secretary.

He said: “Just as we have benefited from major public enquiries following Stephen Lawrence‘s racist murder, we need to have a comprehensive public enquiry which brings out the multiple and vital lessons thrown up by outsourced honour killing cases like Surjit’s and others.

“These are publicly important issues for government action, police action and community action. Victims continue to suffer because of a lack of coherence, communication and co-ordination on these devastating cases.

“In states like India and Pakistan, there is horrifying police collusion in these vicious acts of murder.

“For example, 100 females are murdered across the Indian state on a daily basis.”

The event was attended by more than 100 representatives from women’s campaign groups, the Metropolitan Police, Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, and was organised by Surjit’s daughter Pavanpreet Ahmed.

Speakers included DCI Clive Driscoll who led the investigation on Surjit’s case

Read More http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/2012/12/07/coventry-honour-killing-victim-surjit-athwal-remembered-92746-32378155/#ixzz2ERMNrdnb

 

Man killed after exposing khaps on TV, wife fears she will be killed #SatyamevJayate #AamirKhan #Honorkilling


S Raju, Hindustan Times and Dainik Bhaskar, CNNIBN
Meerut, November 26, 2012

Casual labourer Abdul Hakim, 29, who exposed the ugly face of khap panchayats against lovers in Aamir Khan’s TV show Satyamev Jayate earlier this year was eliminated in full public glare in his remote native village Adoli in western UP’s Bulandshahar districton Thursday. HT learnt on  Sunday that five armed men shot Hakim dead in full public view when he was on his way to the village doctor’s clinic to get medicines for his pregnant wife, Mehawish, 25.

 Speaking to CNN-IBN, she also said that she feared for her life. “They have killed my husband, they will kill me now. I am 9 months pregnant. My husband would have been alive if police protection was provided,” the woman, Mehwish, said.

Aamir Khan, the host of popular television series Satyamev Jayate that was aired every Sunday at 11am on Star Plus, was shocked to hear the news about the killing of Abdul Hakim, a participant in the talk show.

On June 3, 2012 Aamir tried to question the means of the Khap panchayat and the ways in which they try to discourage love marriages in the same gotra. Honour killing was one of the salient features of this discussion. And it was the example of Abdul Hakim and his wife Mehawish who had eloped from Merut to get married in November 2010 that was brought forward.

On November 22, almost five months after that episode was aired, the 28-year-old Hakim was shot dead in Bulandshahr. On hearing this, Aamir said, “Will speak to the government authorities in UP (Uttar Pradesh) to help and ensure the family is safe. The culprits must be brought to the book. The case is registered on the basis of right facts.”

Abdul’s wife said, “They have killed my husband, they will kill me now. I am nine months pregnant. My husband would have been alive if police protection was provided.”

According to Abdul’s brother, the assailants shot Hakim in full view of the public. But the police officials are of the opinion that he was killed as a result of some personal feud.

We hope the family gets speedy justice.

“They ambushed him outside the clinic and pumped several bullets into him,” said the victim’s elder brother Yusuf Hakim.

Abdul and Mehawish eloped in November 2010 and got married in Meerut before moving to Delhi. A panchayat decreed death for the couple and terrorised Abdul’s family as a result of which young family members left the village, sources said.

Actor Aamir Khan expressed grief over the killing of Abdul Hakim, the casual labourer who exposed the Khap panchayat on the TV show ‘Satyamev Jayate’.
On June 3, 2012 Aamir tried to question the means of the Khap panchayat and the ways in which they try to discourage love marriages in the same gotra. Honour killing was one of the salient features of this discussion. And it was the example of Abdul Hakim and his wife Mehawish who had eloped from Meerut to get married in November 2010 that was brought forward.

On November 22, almost five months after that episode was aired, the 28-year-old Hakim was shot dead in Bulandshahr. On hearing this, Aamir said, “Will speak to the government authorities in UP (Uttar Pradesh) to help and ensure the family is safe. The culprits must be brought to the book. The case is registered on the basis of right facts.”

Abdul’s wife said, “They have killed my husband, they will kill me now. I am nine months pregnant. My husband would have been alive if police protection was provided.”

According to Abdul’s brother, the assailants shot Hakim in full view of the public. But the police officials are of the opinion that he was killed as a result of some personal feud.

We hope the family gets speedy justice.

Terming the incident as unfortunate, Aamir Khan said, “Will speak to the government authorities in UP to help and ensure the family is safe. The culprits must be brought to the book. The case is registered on the basis of right facts.”
Hakim was killed in cold blood in full public view on Thursday.
According to media reports, five armed men shot Hakim when he was going to the village doctor’s clinic to get medicines for his pregnant wife, Mehawish.
Talking to the media, Hakim’s brother said the assailants pumped several bullets into him.
However, the police claimed that it was not a case of honour killing as none of the accused named in the FIR by the deceased’s brother was from Mahvish side.
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Political cartoonist arrested on sedition charges gets a week in police custody


 

Shivam Vij, Rediff.com, Sept 9, 2012

A holiday court in MumbaiImages ] on Sunday remanded anti-corruption cartoonist and free speech campaigner Aseem Trivedi to policy custody till September 16 for allegedly making cartoons that insult India‘s [ Images ] flag, Parliament and the national emblem. The order was given by the Bandra holiday court in Mumbai on Sunday morning. Trivedi was arrested when he surrendered on Saturday night at the Bandra Kurla Complexpolice station in Mumbai. He faces charges of sedition (under IPC section 124A), violation of section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, and the Prevention of Insults of National Honour Act, 1971.A team of Mumbai Police had earlier reached Trivedi’s home in Kanpur with a non-bailable warrant but returned to Mumbai as Trivedi is now based in Delhi [ Images ]. Trivedi himself contacted the BKC police station which asked him to reach Mumbai.

Several FIRs and court cases have been filed against Trivedi in Maharashtra [ Images ] for cartoons that he had displayed at the Jan Lokpal agitation in Mumbai in December 2011. The cartoons were also available on his website, www.cartoonsagainstcorruption, whose registration was suspended by web company Big Rock after a notice from Mumbai police, in December 2011.

Speaking on the phone from Mumbai just before his arrest on Saturday night, Trivedi explained that the cartoons intended to display the insult to the nation that is being done by politicians, and do not seek to insult national symbols in any way.

The controversial cartoons are still available at www.cartoonsagainstcorruption.blogspot.com. One cartoon titled, ‘Gang rape of Mother India’ shows a ‘Mother India’ dressed in a tri-colour sari, with politicians and bureaucrats about to assault her, with a gleeful beast standing by described as ‘Corruption’. One cartoon shows India’s national emblem, the Ashoka Lions, with foxes rather than lions. In the inscription on the emblem, the words ‘Satyamev Jayate‘ are replaced with ‘Brashtamev Jayate’ (meaning corruption alone triumphs) and a danger sign.

A cartoon calling for the “right to recall” elected representatives in mid-term shows Parliament as a sewage collection centre into which flows waste from several toilets — or, polling booths. Another cartoon simply shows Parliament as a ‘national toilet’. Another cartoon shows 26/11 gunman Ajmal Kasab [ Images ] as a dog peeing on the Constitution of India. Some cartoons target Congress leader Digvijaya Singh for his statements against the Jan Lokpal movement.

Trivedi has for the moment refused to hire a lawyer and does not intend to apply for bail. “I want to first see how a British-era law like sedition is going to be applied against a cartoonist in free India,” he said.

One of the main complainants, Amit Katarnawre, 27, said on the phone from Mumbai that he had filed an FIR at the BKC police station in Mumbai and had just last week met senior police officials to press charges against Trivedi.

Katarnawre said he was offended by the cartoons as they, in his view, intentionally desecrated India’s national symbols. He was particularly disturbed by the cartoon that shows Kasab as a dog peeing on the Constitution. “As a Buddhist my religious sentiments were hurt by the cartoon that uses the Ashokan lion pillar, as Emperor Ashoka was a Buddhist,” he added.

Katarnawre is an employee of Central Railway and a Dalit. He says he is not a member of any political party but is ideologically an Ambedkarite who could not stand the Constitution being desecrated. He said Trivedi should be interrogated to ascertain the role of all members of Team Anna in the display of the cartoons at the MMRDA grounds.

Apart from sedition, Katarnawre has also charged Trivedi with Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, which punishes persons for “sending messages” online that are “grossly offensive” or have a “menacing character”.

A third law used against Trivedi is the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act,1971, which provides for punishment up to three years in jail and a fine for insulting or defacing the Indian flag and the Indian Constitution. It adds, however, ‘Comments expressing disapprobation or criticism of the Constitution or of the Indian National Flag or of any measures of the government with a view to obtain an amendment of the Constitution of India or an alteration of the Indian National Flag by lawful means do not constitute an offence under this section.’

Trivedi, 25, says he is within his rights as an artist to use national symbols to show how they are being insulted by politicians. He was a freelance cartoonist working with local dailies in Kanpur before he got involved with the Anna Hazare movement.

After his website was shut down in December 2011, Trivedi became associated with the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption movement and also started an independent initiative to campaign against internet censorship. Called ‘Save Your Voice’, he travelled across India to raise awareness against the IT Rules 2011.

Trivedi also sat on a seven-day hunger strike in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to protest the IT Rules in May this year, and displayed anti-corruption cartoons at the Anna Hazare protest in Jantar Mantar in August 2012.

The Virginia, US-based Cartoonists Rights Network International have named him the 2012 recipient of their ‘Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award’. He is sharing the award with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat who was abducted and badly beaten by the Syrian regime in August last year. However, Trivedi will not be able to travel to receive the award as the United States has denied him a visa, although he is scheduled to travel to Vienna [ Images ] toparticipate in an art event later this month.

Images: (Top) Aseem Trivedi being escorted by the Mumbai police at the holiday court on Sunday; and (above), an activist addressed the media outside the court after Trivedi was remanded to police custody for a week

 

Award Winning Political Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi held for ‘obscene’ matter on net #sediton #FOE


Mumbai: The Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) police on Saturday arrested Kanpur cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi (25), for reportedly posting “ugly and obscene” content on his web portal and for putting up banners mocking the Indian Constitution during Anna Hazare’s anti-graft movement at the BKC ground in December last year.
Trivedi’s arrest has also stalled his trip to Syria to collect his Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) award. “The CRNI announced the winners of the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award. The winners are Ali Ferzat fromSyria and Aseem Trivedi from India. He was supposed to fly to Syria on September 12. His arrest has ruined his travel plans and his visa application was also rejected,” said Trivedi’s colleague Alok Dixit.
Dixit said that Trivedi decided to present himself before the BKC police after a team reached Kanpur on August 30, took his father to the Kanpur police station and repeatedly questioned him.
“On Friday night, we boarded a train from Delhi and reached Mumbai. On reaching, the BKC police they arrested him,” he said. He said that the officials told Trivedi was booked under IPC’s Section 124 (A) (whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite
disaffection towards) and under the Information Technology Act 66 (A). He will be produced before the holiday court on Sunday.
Trivedi had told TOI in February, “The cartoons were in no way organized by the Hazare campaign.”
BACKGROUND 
 In Februray 2012,  The Bandra-Kurla Complex police has booked a Kanpur cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi (25), for reportedly posting “ugly and obscene” content on his web portal he owns and for putting up banners mocking the Indian Constitution during Anna Hazare’s anti-graft movement at the BKC ground in Decemberlast year.

The police registered the case recently after conducting a probe based on a complaint received from an RTI activist, who had appealed to the Bombay High Court to take action against those who tried to malign the Constitution.

DCP (operations) and Mumbai police spokespersonfor Mumbai police, Manohar Dalvi, confirmed a case had been registered against Trivedi. “Cartoons that caused the stir included an interpretation of the Indian national emblem, where four wolves stand in place of King Asoka’s Sarnath lions. Also, the message on the emblem reads Bhrashtamev Jayate (Long Live Corruption) instead of Satyamev Jayate.

The other controversial cartoons on the website included a bureaucrat appearing to assault a woman draped in a sari bearing the Indian tricolor, while a building, strikingly similar to the Indian Parliament, is labelled as the “National Toilet” in another cartoon,” Dalvi said.

Trivedi said, “The cartoons were in no way organized by the Hazare campaign.” Over the phone from Kanpur, Trivedi says his intention was not to mock the Indian Constitution but to “depict the ailing truth of the nation and send across a strong message to the masses”.

The BKC police have booked Trivedi under several sections of the IPC, including the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005 and under Section 66 of the IT Act.

 

Indian Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi to be tried For Treason #sedition #WTFnews


Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, this year’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award winner (along with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat) plans on turning himself over to the police in Mumbai in the next couple of days over controversial cartoons he posted on his web site that parody India’s national symbols.

Trivedi was charged in January with treason and insulting India’s national symbols, and if found guilty, he could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 rupees (about $100).

In the cartoon below, Trivedi took India’s national emblem of the Four Sarnath Lions of King Asoka that sit above the motto “Satyamev Jayate” (truth alone shall triumph) and re-drew them as bloodthirsty wolves on the re-worded motto “Bhrashtamev Jayate” (long live corruption):

In another offending cartoon, Trivedi drew the Indian parliament building as a toilet:

There is a long tradition of editorial cartoonists using symbols of states to express opinions about governments. Drawing a legislature or parliament building as a toilet is common.  I recently drew our Capitol building in Washington as a toilet:

The offending cartoon below by Trivedi shows the “Mother of India” being held down by politicians and bureaucrats, about to be raped by corruption:

The Indian Constitution allows for “the right to freedom of speech and expression.” Trivedi’s critics argue that while he is allowed to mock and poke fun at politicans, it is a crime to mock the national emblem, the parliament and the Indian flag.

Read an interview that Trivedi gave to Cartoonist Rights Network International, here’s a quote:

“I am democratic. I am patriotic. I have a twenty-four year life without any charges of corruption. I am only making cartoons. … I am talking about nationalism. I love my country. I am reacting [to the corruption] in my own way. Someone is protesting. Somebody is a doing hunger strike in India. [As for me,] I am a cartoonist.”

There is a lot of sensitivity in India about cartoons that offend religious sensitivities, but cartoons that bash the state must be fair game. I would argue that editorial cartoonists must disrespect governments and symbols of governments as a professional obligation.

Manual scavenging is a result of India’s caste divide


 

Manual scavenging is a result of India‘s caste divide
Sagarika Ghose: The story of Prabhu and Guru Dhodiya and the terrible plight of manual scavengers. They do their job standing all day in human waste, standing in the unbearable extreme stench of night soil; they often have to stay dead drunk to do this job. They are sometimes unable to eat because of the human waste they are surrounded by. Many of them get asthma and the life expectancy is 30 years for many in their community. Our sister channel IBN Lokmat reported on manual scavengers in Pandharpur, Maharashtra leading the Maharashtra government to reinforce a ban. Actor Aamir Khan has also taken up the issue with the PM and on his show Satyamev Jayate. But despite the law, despite the ban, why is manual scavenging continuing.
Day after day working in the unbearable conditions and stench of human waste. Why should human beings, citizens of democratic India have to do this? Why is it that manual scavenging is increasing in India in spite of a 1993 law banning the practice?
Joining us Asim Sarode, he is a lawyer of High Court and Human Rights activist, Pradip More, convenor of the campaign against Manual Scavenging in Maharashtra, from Pune we have S Anand, Publisher of Navayana. And Paul Divakar, General Secretary of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR). Thank you very much for joining us.
We will also get you the views of Mukul Wasnik, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, to whom I spoke to earlier. When I spoke to Mukul Wasnik, I asked him why in spite of the law, in spite of the government efforts – why is manual scavenging still continuing, in fact increasing? Did it require an Aamir Khan to wake up the government on the issue of manual scavenging?
Mukul Wasnik: It didn’t require anybody to tell the government as to what needs to be done. Basically the government has been attending to this as a national priority recently after the data of census 2011 became available where it was pointed out that all most about 26 lakh insanity latrines exist. We thought it would be better for us to call collectors from various districts where the incidences are on the higher side. Similarly our present approach will be compared to what we did in 1993, when the law was enacted basically keeping the sanitation in mind. This time we are preparing a draft, rather a draft is already under circulation for inter-ministerial consultation, which will be base on human dignity. This we are attending to as a national priority. And by national priority, I mean, we take such issues on war footing. And when I say we take up these issues on war footing means that other things can wait but this cannot. People who would like to join in this campaign are most welcome and I am happy that Aamir Khan had taken up this in one of his programmes. But he was also telling me in one of the conversations that in his 47 years, 46 were such where he was totally not aware about this issue existing. But let many more people join this.
Sagarika Ghose: You are speaking about a new law on this but there is already a 1993 law banning the practice of manual scavenging and there has been no punishment. No one has been convicted for practicing manual scavenging. Will this new law be implemented and effective?
Mukul Wasnik: It will provide survey of manual scavengers, it will provide their rehabilitation and it will provide cognisable offences, non-bailable offences, with penalties which will be appropriate for a crime like this.
Sagarika Ghose: What about political will, activist say that there is no political will to act against manual scavenging?
Mukul Wasnik: See, Sagarika, I have just mentioned to you and I will again repeat that it is not about political will. We are addressing this issue with total seriousness. But I will just mention to you that these are the people who are living on the margins of society. They may be on the remotes corner of the village or in a remotes corner of an urban pocket; we have to reach out to them, not only the government but the society. As a nation we have to reach out to them. And with concerned efforts with all the concerned people, I think, the day will come sooner than later.
Sagarika Ghose: But the explain to me, why is it so difficult to eradicate this practice? Why is the government up against so many odds? Why is it so difficult to tackle it head on?
Mukul Wasnik: This is a very deep rooted, this is in the remotes corners of villages, and in the urban pockets. This is going on for generations, ages have witness this kind of thing and therefore to come out of this we will have to provide proper training to the manual scavengers. We will have to provide them with sufficient resources to come up with alternative self employment measures so that once they are out of this they can live their life with dignity. And that is the way we are trying to address this thing.
Sagarika Ghose: The minister there, Mukul Wasnik talking about what the government plans to do to eradicate manual scavenging. He was talking to me a little earlier. Let’s now turn it over to our panel. Asim Sarode, you are lawyer of the High Court, you are a human rights activist, do you find minister’s (Mukul Wasnik) comments convincing? Do you feel that the government will act, can act, can the law be implemented?
Asim Sarode: Sagarika, I beg to differ from the minister because actually what he is saying is very misleading. The act is prevailing since 1993, the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993. But ask the minister to show one punishment which happened using this law. This law is already cognisable, then why are they making a new law? What is the need of the new law? I am sensing suspicion on the presentation of the new law on this issue. Because they are trying to make hazardous manual cleaning of safety tanks and latrines. So why are they adding this hazardous thing in the definition, because they want to escape from the responsibility that this is not hazardous and this is hazardous. See manual scavenging is itself hazardous. It is degrading, it is inhuman and it is anti-human, so they should completely ban rather then creating spaces to escape from the responsibilities. He have filed a case in December 2011, and three hearings took place in High Court but no government official was present. This is there sense of responsibility.
Sagarika Ghose: They have completely insensitive approach. Let me get in Mr Pradip More as well, Pradip More do you agree with those comments that are being made. That in fact government is not serious, there has not been a single conviction for anyone who is employing manual scavenger.
Pradip More: Yes, we need to see all these facts that in spite of this act and also before this act came he had various committees, and commissions were appointed to see this inhuman practice in India. Like Barkway Commission, we have Lord Committee, we had Malkana Committee. Many committees had given so many recommendations to the government but government was insensitive to see all this. And of course there are many charges that the workers are doing all this. The authorities are saying them to do this but they are doing this. All these practises are with the sense of untouchability…
Sagarika Ghose: It is because of untouchability because of social discrimination. Let me put to Paul Divakar, you know, the shocking illustration that we have shown that you have to stay drunk to do that all day. Day after day you are standing neck deep in human waste, the most degrading practice. Now is cast prejudice the reason why there is so much apathy?
Paul Divakar: It is definitely trans based discrimination, it is just the panicle at the end. The worst form of discrimination is forcing people who are meant… as you know cast is meant for pollution and think to do with death, anything to do with unclean, these are the things which are thrust upon untouchables. And one think, we need to pull up the government is leave the society alone for a while. What is the government doing specially with the Railways? Today you have the entire track, I think, lakh of kilometres, and Railways has not done a single think today to have a sensible system of sanitation. And you have all the tracks right along (*) shit all along the way. So make that first the national priority and say from 2012-2013 you are going to fix the system. Every Railways in the world, Railways has managed this. Why is it that Indian government which is so developed is not able to have a system. So some where it is not just the society. There is a will that needs to be harnessed and government can’t tolerate this kind of cast based discrimination.
Sagarika Ghose: It’s cast based discrimination which is leading to the apathy. You were telling me about the sewer workers who are also a part of sub-cast scavengers. And you were saying that they are forced to do it. It is assumed that there cast is as such that they have to go down the sewer.
S Anand: Sagarika the larger thing is, whether we raise it on this panel or Aamir Khan talks about it, the crux of the issue is that it is a part of a larger ideological apparatus, which sustains the entire cast system. It is about the cast occupation nexus in society. So it is no surprise that due to urbanisation you have these sewer lines in Delhi, let’s talk abut Delhi. 5300 kilometres of sewer line, 9 inch diameter pipes that go down you bathroom. You put a cleaning acid, what every you are putting. People flush down sanitary pads, to condoms and even construction rubble goes to these sewer lines. Why do we do that, because these people we die… there is an estimate, which I arrived when I was doing a story for Tehelka about four years again, and it was a conservative estimate arrived with Lela Vesaria, person who is a demography expert, and she and I arrived at this figure of 22,327 deaths per year all over India. In Bombay alone according to an RTI 3,495 deaths in just 24 wards in just once city. Now if you compare it with Army people who died in Kashmir from 1990 to 2007, 5,100.
So there are sacrificing their life but they are not wearing the flag so nobody bothers. Media gets very exited when a young boy goes down the little pipe, I mean, he has to be rescued. The Army is called, you have shows. But these are workers we don’t see them. When Aarushi murder case happened, they sent two workers down the sewer to find the murder weapon. Nobody discussed that in the media. What is the middle class which is watching Aamir Khan’s show doing?
Sagarika Ghose: These are invisible people. Asim Sarode, they are invisible workers, they are invisible to us. We don’t know that they are going down the sewer everyday. They are standing neck deep in night soil everyday. They are inhaling this terrible stench everyday. And yet they don’t have rights because the society believes that is their job, they are by birth cleaners of night soil.
Asim Sarode: They are also invisible in urban areas. In rural areas they are there, in urban areas they are they; they are there on the railway tracks. So political will is absent to see them and to recognise their existence. It is not the issue of manual scavenging; it is the issue of cast based violation. It is the issue of health rights of the people who are working in unorganised sector. It is also issue of how and why they are not getting medical aid, they are not getting shelter. So what is think is if Mr Mukul Wasnik is coming up with a new bill, then the people should demand and they (Government) should also consider…there should be no legislation with out people’s consideration. People should be consulted, their opinion should be gathered and only then new bill should be presented in Parliament. Otherwise, as I pointed previously, if they insert these words like hazardous and create space to escape from responsibility that should not be done.
Sagarika Ghose: You heard Mukul Wasnik there, telling us about his solutions, that he wants to provide proper condition, provide alternative livelihood, do a survey, so do you think these solution will work or do you think much more drastic punishment is the answer?
Paul Divakar: First I feel what we can, what the government can in its own hand, they must begin to implement. There is money that is being allocated, that money is not being spent. Now the question is why the money that has been allocated from the relief and rehabilitation, elimination of the manual scavenging for the last five years, why has it not been spent ferociously in a way that you can eliminate it. Then there are wider issues where you have education, you have special component plan, which is suppose to allocated certain proportion of money… today you don’t have a legislation to implement it. Now why is it… at least, Sagarika, there are 37510 crore that are allocated every year for the development of schedule cast and schedule tribes, including some of the people we have seen on the TV. If this money would have gone for their relief, rehabilitation, education, civic amenity today we would have not these scenes.
Sagarika Ghose: But as Guru (manual scavenger) was saying he has no other option. He said this is the option he had from last four generations and his family has been doing this therefore this is what I’m going to be doing.
Paul Divakar: That is because there is a force on the people and they are forced to some of these jobs. If they refuse there is violence, they are not given job anywhere else. So on one hand there is a mind set which forces them to do this job and on the other hand the wider community says that you are not fit for any other employment. There are lawyers, advocates who do this job in the evening because they are not able to sustain themselves.
Sagarika Ghose: Forced to do the job because born into a particular community. The reform measure of Mukul Wasnik didn’t convenience you.
S Anand: Not at all because reform is an agenda which has a huge Gandhian kind of aura around it. Ambedkar was for annihilation of cast.
Sagarika Ghose: So the reality is that no Brahman will go down the sewer.
S Anand: No Brahman will ever go down the sewer. Whatever you do, even you pay them Rs 1 lakh a month as a salary. You are not going to see reform. Reform is the problematic language which the state has been speaking. Especially because of this triangle hold which I call Gandhian piety. Here is a man whose photo still adorns National Commission for Safai Karamcharis’s office and he says this, you know, you have to really see this… because that is the ideology that inflects the policy on manual scavenging.
Sagarika Ghose: It is a kind of middle class… Gandhian ideology…
S Anand: Ideology which says an ideal banghi should be able to examine night soil and tell you what is the quality of your urine and tell whether it has go germs in it. And this was at a time when Ambedkar was talking about annihilation of cast. So unless you delink occupation and case…
Sagarika Ghose: You have to delink occupation and cast. As Anand is saying that no Brahman will ever go down a sewer and stand neck deep in night soil. That is a very shocking indictment of the democratic rights of manual scavengers. No person should be a manual scavengers, we must have awareness and must pressurise government to have strict punishment for those employ manual scavenging. Thank you very much indeed, Asim Sarode, Paul Divakar, S Anand. This is because of caste discrimination that manual scavenging is continuing.

 

Sunday Reading -Satyamev Jayate- Aamir Khan silent on Ambedkar and Reservation !



Silence Eva Jayate
Aamir Khan not only deviously censored any discussion of Ambedkar and Reservation, but seemed content to use the 1920s language of high-caste reformers
S. Anand

This Sunday morning I received a call from a friend who alerted me to the tenth episode of Aamir Khan-anchored Satyamev Jayate since the focus was on caste and untouchability. I mumbled something about his spoiling my Sunday, but tuned in nevertheless. It began with Kaushal Panwar narrating her harrowing tale for about twenty minutes: from her childhood where she was forced to join her mother in cleaning shit to her pursuit of a PhD in Sanskrit. I was glad that the audience heard her say that the discrimination she had experienced in her school in a Haryana village was no different from what she faced in the enlightened campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi—where she continues to be denied a rightful job.

Following Kaushal, we were allowed a glimpse into the life of Balwant Singh, author of the tract An Untouchable in the IAS. I noticed a shot of him looking up to a larger-than-life portrait of Dr B.R. Ambedkar in his Saharanhpur house, and realized that so far—30 minutes into the show—there had been no verbal mention of Ambedkar. Balwant Singh, among the first dalits to enter a career in civil service in post-independence India, had said in his interview that he was perhaps the first and only IAS officer ever to be demoted to the rank of tehsildar. That had been edited out. I intuitively felt the show was going to scrupulously avoid any mention of two key ideas—Reservation and Ambedkar. I was hoping to be proved wrong. I wasn’t.

How did Kaushal Panwar do her BA, MA and PhD and land a job with Delhi University? What is it that facilitates access to hitherto-excluded spaces for dalits? What is the one policy that enables dalits to stop cleaning shit and reclaim their humanity? The one weapon that helps them get an education? Get a job? Reservation. And who made this policy possible? Ambedkar. But Aamir Khan wouldn’t mention the R and A words even once for fear of alienating his middle class audience, which as a friend perceptively said, is fed “bourgeois moralism of the most pathological sort,” on a programme where “the only solution turns out to be nothing more than emotional catharsis”.

Not surprisingly, Khan would also not mention the fact that an atrocity is committed on a dalit every 18 minutes according to the National Crime Records Bureau. The penchant Khan and his research team showed for various laws and statistics in the first two episodes of SJ that I had seen—on prenatal sex determination and domestic violence—was nowhere on display here. Hence no mention of the Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989 and its dismal failure to curb violence against dalits. No discussion of a case like Khairlanji, where, in 2006, the mother and daughter, Surekha Bhotmange and Priyanka Bhotmange, had not just been raped repeatedly but tortured in ghastly ways (stripped, paraded naked, with fact-finding reports saying bullock cart pokers were thrust into their vaginas, and that Priyanka was raped even after her death). An interview with Bhaiyalal Bhotmange, the sole survivor of the Khairlanji carnage, may have not fit into the preordained script.

Then the show featured documentary filmmaker Stalin K. Padma and several clips from his three-hour film India Untouched. Again, the cherry-picked excerpts skirted any reference to A and R. In a cringe-worthy moment, Stalin even fawned on Khan and congratulated him for taking up the issue of untouchability on television 65 years after independence.

This was followed by homilies from His Holiness, Justice (retired) C.S. Dharmadhikari, who in his self-introduction, pretending to denounce labels, paraded every label of privilege that adorned his CV—including the ‘blessings’ allegedly bestowed by Adi Sankara on his ancestors. This man could equally pompously announce his Deshastha Brahmanness as his apparent rejection of it. I would have given up right then but for the fact that I had spotted Bezwada Wilson in the audience, and I was waiting to see if this leader of the Safai Karamchari Andolan—a man who had pioneered the demolition of dry latrines across India—would salvage the morning. He too was asked to narrate his early life, and he too shed tears. As did Khan with practised ease.

The next day I called Wilson and told him I was annoyed that even he did not bother to mention Ambedkar and Reservation. Wilson clarified that he indeed had. It had been edited out, as was his rant against the Supreme Court and Parliament—since both institutions had been dragging their feet on the issue of manual scavenging. Then he revealed something that shocked me. He said he had not been in the audience when Kaushal Panwar was being interviewed by Khan. I countered saying I had seen him ‘reacting’ to what Kaushal said on stage. “Even I saw myself in the audience and hence was shocked,” said Wilson. He said Kaushal had been interviewed in total isolation, in an empty studio. And yet on Sunday we saw, every once in a while, close-ups of fretful, anxious, pained and agonised faces of members of the studio audience as Kaushal was narrating her story. They even clapped on cue, like when Khan asked Kaushal her heroic father’s name. Clearly, all this had been manipulated and faked—with clever editing and splicing of shots.

I checked with Kaushal if this was true. It was. I further found that Khan and his team had shot interviews with two members of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry—its chairman Milind Kamble and key advisor Ashok Khade. They were informed just a week ahead of the 8 July telecast that their interviews wouldn’t be aired since they “did not fit in with the story”. In fact, when Chandra Bhan Prasad, mentor to DICCI and an exponent of ‘dalit capitalism’, watched the show with Kamble in Pune, they could not believe their eyes. Kamble’s interview with Khan had been shot with Dharmadhikari and Kamble seated next to each other on the studio couch; but Kamble had been weeded out. Prasad wondered if some ‘dirty trick editing’ made this possible. More likely, Dharmadhikari took a leaf out of Khan’s book and did not mind giving a ‘fresh take’ minus the unsuitable presence of Kamble. I also discovered that every participant on the show is forced to sign a ‘confidentiality agreement’ saying they will not speak about their participation—recorded many months ahead—in any social media.

In his weekly column in The Hindu, Khan began his discourse with “Gandhiji’s struggle” for “those ostracized as untouchables”. Perhaps Khan and his ghostwriters did not ever hear about what young Bhimrao had to face right in Satara at age 10. After a few paragraphs extolling Gandhi, Khan mentions “Babasaheb Ambedkar” in passing, as someone who led the drafting of the Constitution. Since the bulk of SJ’s episode chose to focus on manual scavenging, and since Dharmadhikari and Khan chose to highlight Gandhi’s imagined role in the fight against this practice—an issue largely and sadly neglected even within the dalit movement—let us turn briefly to what Gandhi said about “the most honourable occupation”.

Gandhi wrote in Harijan in 1934: “I call scavenging as one of the most honourable occupations to which mankind is called. I don’t consider it an unclean occupation by any means. That you have to handle dirt is true. But that every mother is doing and has to do. But nobody says a mother’s occupation is unclean.” In another essay entitled ‘The Ideal Bhangi’ in 1936 he wrote, “My ideal Bhangi would know the quality of night-soil and urine. He would keep a close watch on these and give a timely warning to the individual concerned. Thus he will give a timely notice of the results of his examination of the excreta. That presupposes a scientific knowledge of the requirements of his profession.” It is this stranglehold of Gandhism that has kept manual scavenging alive.

Ambedkar held a view that was the exact opposite: “Under Hinduism scavenging was not a matter of choice, it was a matter of force. What does Gandhism do? It seeks to perpetuate this system by praising scavenging as the noblest service to society! What is the use of telling the scavenger that even a Brahmin is prepared to do scavenging when it is clear that according to Hindu Shastras and Hindu notions even if a Brahmin did scavenging he would never be subject to the disabilities of one who is a born scavenger?” Ambedkar argued that in India a man is not a scavenger because of his work, but because of his birth irrespective of whether he does scavenging or not.

Khan and his team not only deviously censored any discussion of Ambedkar and Reservation, they seemed content to use the 1920s language of high-caste reformers. A friend chided me saying I shouldn’t expect Khan to be an activist. But surely my friend did not know how Khan manipulates and fools his audience—in the studio and outside—to nod and cry at moments he chooses. Wilson said, “In fact, during the shoot it was not I who actually began crying. Aamir Khan started to cry, so I was forced to cry along.” Khan obviously thinks we can flush away middle class shit with tears.

S. Anand is publisher, Navayana. A shorter, edited version of this appears in print. OUTLOOK

Doctor, Heal Thyself ! # Satyamevjayate #Aamir khan


 

Doctors asks Aamir Khan to apologise for his recent show on Satyamev Jayate

 

Rediff.com, Last updated on: June 06, 2012

The latest episode of Aamir Khan‘s [ Images ] television showSatyamev Jayate probed into malpractices that some doctors follow, looking at the way they dole out wrong treatments for monetary gains. It has understandably not gone down too well with the medical fraternity.

Dr Sanjay Nagral — a consultant surgeon, department of surgical gastroenterology , Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai [Images ] — explains what exactly has hurt the doctors. 

Satyameva Jayate‘s recent episode on healthcare in IndiaImages ] has created quite a stir within my fraternity. What began as benign posts on social media and closed door conversations has snowballed into a movement against what is being described as a ‘diatribe’ by Aamir Khan against the medical profession.

In an additional bizarre twist, the Indian Medical Association, the apex body of medical professionals in the country, is asking Aamir to ‘apologise’ and, in what can only be termed as an acute case of silliness, has called for ‘boycotting’ him.

The issues raised in the show, and the profession’s response to them, have important lessons. Lest they get lost in the din and drama, here is a contrarian view for the record.

What is it exactly in that episode that has hurt my colleagues?

From my reading of the various statements, it seems there are some common themes that many are upset about.

First, the show ‘exaggerated’ the extent of unethical practice in the profession. Second, it showed only the ‘bad’ side of the profession, not the ‘good’. Third, it was factually incorrect at times.

There were those who wanted to know why doctors are being targeted when the entire society is corrupt.

Finally, the one below the belt: Who is Aamir Khan to pontificate about service to the poor when he charges crores of rupees for the show?

The last one, though probably the most superfluous, is the most emotive of all.

Is it really a revelation that ‘stars’ like Aamir charge such amounts for television serials? If Aamir declares he has not charged for the show, will it in any way alter the response to the show?

Post your comments on Satyamev Jayate here.

Now, we come to the more substantive issues.

What was one of the unethical practices that the show highlighted and ‘exaggerated’? The episode talked about the practice of ‘cuts’ and ‘commissions’ that are offered by doctors, labs and hospitals for referral of patients. These are cash transactions; they are not revealed in official documents and are arbitrary in amount.

Although there is no documentation of the extent of this practice (Not surprising! How many would admit to it?), having had a ringside view in a large metropolis for many years, I would suggest it involves a large majority of referrals.

We can quibble over the precise extent, but that would just serve to obfuscate the issue at hand.

Hasn’t such ‘fee splitting’ become so commonplace and institutionalised that, as a young doctor, if you don’t participate in it, you are effectively ostracised? Isn’t this activity non-transparent and doesn’t it increase the cost of health care and affect quality? Has any medical association ever tried to build internal resistance or opposition to such a patently corrupt practice?

The show talked about the shocking state of the Medical Council of India and how its president, Dr Ketan Desai, was arrested by the CBI in 2010 on charges of corruption. He was thereafter removed from the post of MCI president by the government and is now cooling his heels in Tihar jail.

Desai amassed crores (one estimate pegs the amount of money recovered from the raid on his home at Rs 1800 crore (Rs 18,000 million)) from the lucrative business of recognition of medical colleges.

The episode also showed how Desai, who had been indicted by the courts and temporarily sacked in 2002, staged a return. What the episode did not mention is that the same individual was also the national president of the Indian Medical Association.

Thus, a convicted individual not just survived but actually thrived for an entire decade at the highest levels in the Indian medical establishment both as the president of the Medical Council as well as the IMA. Isn’t this a reflection of the permissiveness and ambivalence medical professionals have developed towards corruption in their own representative bodies?

The current president Dr K K Talwar, who appeared on the show, had no credible answer when asked why not a single doctor in India has had his licence cancelled when the General Medical Council of the UK figures showed substantive numbers every year.

One of the ‘errors’ repeatedly pointed out by those outraged by the show is the numbers that were quoted about private and public medical colleges in India. One wonders, though, what is more important — the precise number or the fact that India can be counted among the countries that have the highest number of private medical colleges in the world? Isn’t the crass commerce of medical education in these colleges, where seats are sold at high prices, the real issue?

Isn’t it true that private medical college empires have grown because they have managed to hire and retain medical teachers, set up arrangements with hospitals to provide ‘clinical material’ in the form of patients and get recognition for postgraduate courses from inspection teams consisting largely of doctors?

Of course, there is a large industry supported by politicians at work here but the collusion of the profession is substantial.

Did the episode show examples of ‘good’ doctors and the positive side of things?

To be fair, the show did profile alternative models quite extensively. The issue of generic drugs and the work of Dr Samit Sharma in Rajasthan [ Images ] were highlighted in some detail.

That they predictably chose media favourite Dr Devi Shetty, when they could have profiled any of the hundreds of brave, committed doctors who have chosen to work under harsh  conditions in rural India to come up with alternative models of people-centric health care, is a pity. But some of this is inherent to the medium and its compulsions.

And, finally, a very old complaint — why should doctors be ‘targeted’ when the entire society is commercial and corrupt?

It is obvious that, unlike other professions, health care has a huge social dimension and hence will inevitably be scrutinised more intensely. But it is exactly this aspect that also gives doctors more visibility (don’t many of our colleagues enjoy a lot of media publicity on a regular basis?).

Historically medicine has a social contract which allows it a unique form of self-regulation in the form of medical councils, a front on which we have failed miserably. So whether it is the killing of the female foetus or the sale of kidneys, the state has had to step in with new laws because self-regulation failed.

The principle of market economics have been rejected by most societies, including western nations, as inappropriate to health care. In a strange paradox, India has one of the most privatised of health care systems.

Now, before my colleagues say that this is a result of state policy, which it essentially is, we have to admit India’s medical profession is a willing and enthusiastic participant in this process. Witness in the current boom of market medicine a new entrepreneurial spirit that is sweeping the profession. But the same market medicine, which uses media and television to sell its wares, is disturbed when the medium turns around and asks disturbing questions.

Was the show free of blemishes? Of course not.

There were occasional moments, like when the rather improbable allegation of a ‘liver transplant’ being advised for gastroenteritis was made by a member of the audience. Or when a family alleged that they did not know that a pancreas would be transplanted with the kidney in a large private hospital in Bengaluru [ Images ]. But these aberrations should not distract from the big issues that the show managed to raise.

Rampant commercialisation of the practice and of medical education, hard selling by pharmaceuticals, the high cost of drugs and the shocking price differences for the same drug from different brands are all highly disturbing parts of our healthcare policy.

That a popular film star with a huge audience articulated on prime time television what health activists have been saying for years is perhaps what has disturbed some in my fraternity.

Organisations like the IMA should actually seize the moment and ask Aamir to commit to a sustained public campaign on universal health coverage and the right to health. That would also test Aamir on a charge that has been made about him; that he raises social concerns transiently to stimulate interest in an ongoing release.

As for the boycott call, I would suggest that Aamir doesn’t really need to worry on that count. He has to just sneeze or cough and there will be a bevy of doctors running to attend on him.

After all, being a film star’s physician counts a lot in a doctor’s professional trajectory in India.

Satyamev Jayate: Of downright manipulations and status-quoist revolutions


By Saswat Pattanayak,  Kindle Magazine

Aamir Khan claims to address the roots of social evils, engages statistics, experts and pending court cases to illustrate his findings while offering solutions to overturn Indian feudal structure, all within an hour’s televised show, intensified with tears, hopes and resolutions. And the unprecedented success of ‘Satyamav Jayate’ underlines that this tactic is effectively working. If a generation had somehow failed to awaken following Rang de Basanti, it is wide awake, this time.

Each episode is a testament to this resounding success. Aamir poses significant questions in the beginning, acknowledges the conventional answers, moves on to  dismantle those very assumptions, and the audience bursts into tears at its own ignorance and at the promise of a new tomorrow bereft of the maladies.
Just when the cynics wonder if he has turned self-righteous, it turns out ‘Satyamev Jayate’ works precisely because Aamir identifies himself entirely with the audience. He, too, learns of the bitter truths about Indian society from the very show itself, live on the stage. “Mujhe bhi aaj yeh seekh mili hai” is oft-repeated. Along with the audience, he is shocked at the barbaric, with them he sheds the tears, with them he signs petitions. The routine criticisms usually reserved for holier than thou shows simply find no outlets here.
Finally, it is the content area where the Aamir Khan effect shines. Female infanticide, dowry tortures, child sexual abuse – the themes so far – are societally entrenched as innately problematic, inherently evil and acutely in need of redress. They are so commonplace that they should have ideally lost any shock value by now; and yet Satyamev Jayate revels in the euphoric disconnect of the audience with their harmful consequences.
And yet, what goes almost unnoticed is that Satyamev Jayate is a reality television show, not a reality; that the truth has not triumphed in the show capitalizing on our national motto. What remains deeply unsettling is that the solution evinced in the show is part of the problem, that the answers gathered are critical question marks, the lulling agents are masquerading as the antidotes, the normative as surprises, and the status quo as revolution.
Aamir Khan, along with his corporate sponsors, the so-called philanthropy partners and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, have together created a recipe for unparalleled commercial venture, the most gigantic instance of private capital earning public respect, a creative collaboration that gloriously abolishes economic class as a social determinant, an immaculate shield against revolutionary restructuring.
A reality television show is entirely scripted, and Satyamev Jayate is no exception. Where it resorts to downright manipulation is where it hides behind the cloak of social change agency. What percentage of Indian children are sexually abused, asks Aamir Khan. Two percent, says one, four percent, another. All nice and dandy, except that either the reality show does not arrange for a single informed member to be present amidst the audience, or that the host chooses not to ask this question to people whose answers can upstage his assumptions. No Pinki Virani there. Does female infanticide take place majorly in rural areas or how does one plan one’s wedding could likewise – effortlessly – generate opposing views, but Aamir, bent upon cashing in on the shock value, chooses to register the answers that suit the script.
So are the ignorant answers from the audience a result of random sampling? Hardly so, considering each episode has target audience representing a certain age/gender group. Instead of facilitating a dialogue among the people representing diverse views owing to unique social locations, Aamir Khan chooses to engage in a linear fashion, as a preacher, as an instructor, and eventually as the tool of social change.
As part of the script, the critical voices in the audience are not asked for opinions independently, but only as supporting evidences that embolden Aamir’s heroism. It would have upset the stage had the members of Tanzeem Khuddam E Millat engaged in a dialogue with the young people who advocated lavish wedding in the beginning of that episode. Hence, after the unassuming audience was sarcastically applauded for its wedding preference, and after Aamir had made forceful arguments against audience perception, Mausim Ummedi is introduced as his supporting voice, whose adulations for Aamir’s mammoth sacrifices are then televised to the viewers. One wonders if becoming the highest paid anchor in the television history to showcase impacts of poverty is the sacrifice, or being a descendant to Maulana Azad itself constitutes this acclaimed sacrifice of Aamir Khan.
Turns out, neither. More disturbing is the claim on part of the elite host that women’s rights issues have nothing to do with economic class. Infanticide is a practice across classes, dowry torture equally universal, sexual abuse as well. Political economy is not the culprit, and there is no need to address feudalism, let alone capitalism. Both rich and the poor suffer equally, and even the poor are romanticized as happier survivors. There is light at the end of the tunnel because patience with the system, and not privilege redistribution holds the key. In fact, so content is Aamir in the status quo, that his constant disclaimer is his complete and unwavering faith in our judicial system and that he – on behalf of us all – is perfectly assured, justice shall prevail in each case.
That, the oppressed state of women and children is a necessary consequence of patriarchy, which in turn is unequivocally interwoven with capitalism, is entirely lost to our beloved renaissance man. While claiming to be addressing the root causes of social evils, Aamir conveniently blames it all on individual conscience without addressing a commodified society that must treat its weaker sections as non-entities. In an increasingly individualistic society where profit – and power – accumulations are ruthlessly preserved – and whose direct beneficiaries include the illustrious host himself – the next logical step is to sign the petitions in a dramatic manner and repose trust in the law and order system of our assumedly robust democracy.
So the woman continues to be worshipped as a sacrificial mother, motherhood as a moral virtue, every abortion is a killing without a word spoken on abortion rights of women, wearing jeans and miniskirts continue to be slutty, big weddings remain fine so long as the couples pay for them, child sexual abuse victims should forgive their abusers, belief in the gods and religious scripts remain the saviors, and the pending court cases shall invariably meet justice. In Aamir Khan’s troubled India, trouble is forever over, when he comes back to reassure the awestruck audience, after the break.
It is not the disbelievers, the radicals, the Maoists, the agitators, the ones who have given up on the political economic system that inherently sustains the wealth and gender gap who should be emulated. It is the pacifiers, the collaborators, the petitioners, the forgivers, the individualists who must pave the way. Contrary to the claimed exceptional values this show provides, the truth is we have continually worshipped the heroes, the successful and the glorious, the judicial system and the political democracy, just as Aamir envisages. Moreover, we have always waited for the superhero to come fix what is wrong with the system while leaving its roots intact. The role of the messiah is not to discard the god, after all; just to empower the masses into believing a tiny bit more.
When this season of televised empowerment started, Aamir outlined India’s biggest obsessions, he mentioned cricket, films and weddings. The truth would have surely triumphed, had he not overlooked the most apparent one, the one obsession he has willingly turned himself into becoming: the Messiah. Alas.