Last week, The Wall Street Journal reviewed Aamir Khan’s television show, Satyamev Jayate:
On Indian TV, there has never been anything quite like “Truth Alone Prevails.” Since its debut in May, the weekly show has reached more than 470 million viewers with its inquiries into issues like pesticides in food, domestic violence and the abortion of female fetuses. Within moments of airing, each episode trends at No. 1 on Twitter in India. Ten million people have sent text messages, emails and comments to the show’s website to share their questions, opinions and fears.
I mentioned the show and some of the initial reactions to it earlier this year. Two months ago, it wasn’t yet clear just how successful or influential the show would prove to be. So far, it has had some effect by drawing greater attention to the issues it covers:
In two Indian states, the show has prompted governments to bolster the enforcement of existing laws, and a few weeks ago the show’s host was called to testify before a parliamentary committee after an episode on medical malpractice. The scale of the response has made “Satyamev Jayate” (as the show is called in Hindi) more like a people’s movement than a television show.
Isheta Salgaocar is more skeptical of the show:
While lending his voice and fame to such causes is admirable, Mr. Khan is also responsible for allowing people to believe that there are simplistic solutions to some of the gravest problems that plague modern India.
Columnist Tavleen Singh praises the show for covering stories neglected by Indian journalism:
Satyamev Jayate is television reporting at its finest because Aamir and his team have taken the pains not just to carefully research their subjects but to travel outside the environs of Delhi and Mumbai to find victims of social abuse. The more I have watched the show, the more guilty I have felt for not having done, in long years in journalism, what Aamir Khan has been able to do in a few episodes of Satyamev Jayate.
However, some of the episodes this season have been marred by their relatively poor research:
The episodes on the use of pesticides and medical malpractice caused criticism for adopting a simplistic tone on issues of complexity.
In the pesticides show, in particular, Mr. Khan’s team attempted to vilify producers and deify green groups that oppose their use. The problem here was the show did a poor job of marshalling any research to back up its claims.