Aruna Roy, Shankar Singh and Nikhil Dey, guests on the Kings Every Day episode, wrote us a letter about the impact of the show in India and abroad.
Dear Satyamev Jayate,
How effective, widespread and long-lasting can the effect of a television programme be? From the time that Satyamev Jayate featured Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and some of its founder members, the calls and letters have not stopped. Innumerable people have reached out to talk to us—undoubtedly more than we have had after any television show or media exposure. Most remarkable, however, has been the nature of the response. Many people from the geographical area where the MKSS works have spoken to us—on the street, in buses, trains, in meetings and on the phone, saying that they are proud to have been part of a movement that has been recognized for its contribution to changing the country for the better. They feel happy that their collective struggle and sustained campaign for the people's right to information has been recognized as playing a role in fundamentally empowering the Indian citizen.
People from outside our area have also spoken to us in a very informed manner, retaining the most important lessons and challenges highlighted on the show. Most importantly, those who have contacted us have spoken with hope and determination, and are keen to do something about the state of corruption and to advance the battle for transparency and accountability.
The most refreshing conversations were with people who said, 'We want to become more active and connect with people like you who already have a network.' They were willing to move beyond words and increase their own engagement and participation in efforts for change. There were some who called us explaining their ideas and 'solutions' that they felt could be used by activists like us. However, even they soon understood that the point of the show was to be active oneself—to take ones ideas to people, enthuse more and more people about them, and do something to change the country.
We got a large number of calls in the first two weeks of the show, but we still receive calls and new relationships are being formed. For instance, a person from Punjab, Anand from Jharkhand who was in the CRPF and Vaibhav from Bhilwara saw the show and made the effort to come to us in Devdungri village and join ongoing campaigns for accountability.
But it is important to know that this show has had an impact beyond India's borders as well. In an
Open Government Partnership (OGP) meeting in Indonesia held on May 6 and 7, delegates from Pakistan saw us and remarked "We saw you on Satyamev Jayate and want to learn from your RTI and social audit movements, and understand the nature of the grievance redress law you are struggling for." In Bhutan, the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, who had invited us to talk about social audit there, was greatly energized when she saw the show. It is up on the Anti-Corruption Commission's website and they've tweeted about it here too. In fact, while introducing us in Bhutan, their Chief Anti-Corruption Commissioner did not use Wikipedia but made many references to the show!
After we circulated the link with the English subtitles to fellow Steering committee members of the OGP from across the world, their appreciative responses made it clear that they saw this as a unique communication effort. Paul Massan, the head of the OGP civil society support unit, complimented the show and the viewers in India. "A full hour for a topic like this and with a considerable level of depth would be difficult to be on air here and get a good amount of viewers," he told us.
So, we now appreciate why there have been 40 lakh missed calls in favour of passage of the Grievance Redress Bill. People have called us and said, "We want to help fight for 'RTI part 2' as you called it in the show." They understood that India's democracy needs to build on transparency provisions by also ensuring platforms for citizen-centric accountability. We hope to see Satyamev Jayate carry this effort forward by becoming partners in ensuring that a strong Grievance Redress Bill is enacted and implemented.
– Aruna Roy, Shankar Singh and Nikhil Dey
Devdungri, June 4, 2014
Aruna Roy, Shankar Singh and Nikhil Dey are the founder members of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan.
To read this letter in Hindi, click here.
To contact MKSS, visit http://www.mkssindia.org/ or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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