Monday, October 1, 2012

A TEAR JERKER: Aamir Khan’s TV show, Satyamev Jayate, has hit the small screen with shocking stories of mothers who struggled to give birth to their girl child, of the killing of unborn girls. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf Aamir introduces the subject, and lights a spark, taken on by three women who bare their souls and strip naked the atrocities committed against them. Aamir Khan is a genius! Only he could have chosen a name for his show so well calculated to touch the heartstrings of all Indians, one that aids to dredge out the latent [?] patriotism with their whole heart. At a juncture when scams are the new status symbol, when politicians have copyrights on how to talk and how not to deliver, when people cluck their tongues at corruption eating away at the nation's innards, when the common man finds life turning even more common with price rise and when the rich get inflated despite inflation, here comes a star who hits out at the very poignant, very real issue of female foeticide. Much akin to the ancient sutradhar, Aamir introduces the subject, and lights a spark, taken on by three women who bare their souls and strip naked the atrocities committed against them. As the horrendous tales unfold, tears flow unashamedly, as the listeners take in the cruelty of men, and in many cases, that of women. Aamir gently nudges and prompts them, even as he wipes away his tears, but the real heroes of his show are the women themselves. In sharp contrast, appears the DIG of Police, Sahranpur, who obviously has a big mouth and a bigger ego. He twirls his moustache and berates a poor man who has come to lodge a complaint about his 14-year-old sister eloping with a youth. With a glint in his eye, probably because he is on national TV, he barks, “Had she been my daughter, I would have shot her for the shame she has brought upon our family!” No compunction, no remorse, just a bull in a chinashop, smashing the emotions of around 50 people with one callous statement! This is regression at its worst, upholding honour killings, a barbaric tradition! Chilling clips of clinics in Rajasthan, where female foetuses are aborted with ease, and despite a sting operation that clearly reveals faces, deeds and complicity, not one doctor's licence has been revoked. The carnage goes on ceaselessly, and often, the whole staff is involved in the crime. Aamir points out that female foeticide is not restricted to the poor, but is practised with impunity in the chambers of the rich and the famous. Obviously, education has nothing to do with real learning, as all those bigots who put the blame of bearing a female child on the harassed mother have no idea that the sex of the foetus depends entirely on the father. Betraying their ignorance, they strut around, preening themselves on getting a boy and cowering like mice if the child is a girl. The saddest part is that code words indicate the sex of the foetus. Jai Sri Krishna, if it is a boy and Jai Mata Di, if it turns out to be a girl. How ironic that in such cases, the Devi, a goddess of immense power and worshipped by millions, is the epithet given to a helpless little mite who is killed in the womb! While on the topic of honour killings, we do not have to delve very far. The Aarushi case, which has turned murkier over the months, was initially termed honour killing. The ‘most unkindest cut of all' was the manner in which the media and the police crawled through the entire house after the murder, riding roughshod over any clue that was not earlier obliterated. As pictures of the young girl were plastered all over the media, the case grew more complicated, finally ending with her parents in the dock. A village in Punjab has dug itself out of the mire with one man having risen like a Colossus to strike against female foeticide. Aamir exhorts the rest of India to follow suit. He knows this is the right time to strike a chord, when his listeners are shell-shocked at the sight of a woman whose husband bit her brutally all over her face for having borne only daughters, and a doctor whose mother-in-law kicked her granddaughter's carrycot down the stairs. Are these the doings of civilised people? And even as a group of bachelors, aged 35 or so, finds no brides due to the skewed male-female ratio, a young mother on the street smiles radiantly in answer to a question whether she wants a boy or a girl. “I would accept with gratitude whatever God gives me!” Simple words, yet so meaningful! The Hindu May 13th, 2012

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