This week’s Satyamev Jayate episode seemed more like a compilation of inspirational stories. Dealing with the issue of government’s continued indifference towards the disabled, episode 6 saw people with various disabilities on the sets of the show and documentary-style video footage screened to shed light on the plight of the differently-abled throughout India.
It is not exactly a big surprise that there is an utter lack (bordering on complete absence) of implementation of disabled-friendly policies in our country rendering day-to-day lives of any such person difficult.
The guests on the show, while talking to the host Aamir Khan, expressed their resentment towards the Indian government and talked about problems, like lack of equal education for the differently-abled children, respect and equal rights.
Aamir spoke about the importance of education for a disabled person as a boy named Sai related his experiences around the same. Many on the show blamed the country’s infrastructure, while visually impaired Krishnakanth Mane blamed it on the people and said that citizens too need to be socially conscious. Mane also spoke about the importance of technology in his life and how he considered it an extension of himself. This makes you wonder about those who have no access to technology or the ones in remote parts of the country who are unaware of their rights.
The fact that moving beyond the disability of limb and the senses, the show also dealt with those whose physical disability affect their appearance, should be appreciated. The stigma they face was brought to light through the example of Nisha Lobo (which is Aamir Khan’s chosen moment this week to 'tear up').
There is a popular superstition that disability in your present life is considered a result of your sins in past life. The very logic behind this, 'you must have done something really evil to have deserved this' was questioned. Also, the very definition of being “disabled” was opened up for interpretation. Many didn’t consider themselves “disabled” at all.
The episode took up various aspects of the issue, but its main focus remained ‘access to education’. A school, Amar Jyoti in New Delhi, was shown as a 'model educational institution' where abled and differently-abled study together with access to all teaching aids required for such an endeavour.
The final question: Should schools and colleges that do not become fully inclusive within the next five years be de-recognised?
All of it sounds very well but once again, Aamir Khan was exclusively addressing the urban population. All the guests on the show were financially privileged and aware of their rights as per the constitution of India. That said, one can only hope that Satyamev Jayate moves on to highlight topics across classes, and. not just the upper class in one episode and villagers in the other.