Sunday, August 18, 2013

Satyamev Jayate: "Is Love a Crime?" - thoughts

Satyamev Jayate (translation: "Truth prevails") is a famous Indian talk show that I'm totally obsessed with. The reason I love it is that it talks openly and honestly about real issues that India is facing - more sensitive issues in society that nobody wants to talk about due to "shame" etc. It is developed and hosted by Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, and I think he is absolutely brilliant. In the West, daytime TV is filled with talk shows like these that talk about similar issues, so it is great to see an Indian version like Satyamev Jayate talk about real issues that many modern AND traditional Indians face. Opening up a dialogue, like this show does - makes people aware of others' personal experiences - their struggles and triumphs, and it reveals their humanity. For Westerners, it explains a lot of Indian cultural traditions - where they come from, the mentality towards elders...everything. 

This episode is called, "Is Love a Crime?" and it talks about modern Indian couples marrying for love, against their parents' wishes. Some stories end in tragedy, and some end in success. Indian parents are extremely involved in their children's lives, and see them as a personal investment - and in true Asian mentality - they believe their children are a reflection of themselves. Many Indian children are raised in an environment where their lives are not exactly their own - their lives belong to their family, there are so many people to consider first before you consider yourself. If an Indian girl elopes with a boy - without her parents' knowing - they can face dire consequences. It is related to the elders being control freaks, the family's reputation, and also their girl child's "honour" ("honour killings"). In India, within certain communities, there is such a societal pressure that people (in groups - mob mentality or moral policing?) can treat you badly due to your reputation. So, even if you don't care what they think, other people can cause you a lot of trouble and make you so afraid that you end up caring what they think - if not for your own protection. It is a vicious cycle...a bullying of sorts.

This issue struck close to my heart as within the Indo-Canadian community, there are constant "honour killings", for example the Jassi Siddu case which I follow closely. Not to mention, all of our Indian friends, in Hyderabad, have had love marriages and have had to face similar (but much less severe) opposition from their families. My husband remembers his best friend's brother eloping to a girl, and he and his friends were rounded up to defend the couple, as the girl's side men were coming over to take her back.

As a Western woman, it is hard for me to think about young couples who love each other so much...who by just being in love and choosing a partner can face parents' disowning you, bullying, and even death. True love should be celebrated and never punished...people (especially women) should be able to make decisions for the direction of their own life.

One thing I learned about in this episode, was about the Khap Panchyat -  an elected council of five elder MEN who govern a particular community (village/very small towns). They are looked to for advice, decisions, and they set the tone for the whole village. They can also hand out punishments if they see fit, and sway the attitudes of the village with their power. It has nothing to do with politics, the Indian government, the police - it is a village tradition that goes back thousands of years (because the Indian judicial system is notoriously slow). The Supreme Court of India has deemed the Khaps illegal due to their involvement in encouraging honour killings (a form of control of women?) when couples want to get married against their parents' wishes. But the Khaps are still there, and they still have power and influence. Khaps are die-hard about their traditions and they believe they know best. They can be quite feudal-minded and backward, so deep in their traditions that they are unable to see.. The Khaps make their own rules. I had no idea about the Khaps because our family lives in the urban metropolis in Hyderabad - I had no idea that these things happen.

My favorite part of the show was when Sanjay Sachdev came out - he looked like he could be another Khap (same age, but much less grumpy), but instead he runs an organization called "Love Commandos" which gives a safe place for young couples to elope and the resources to start their life together. He was fantastic. He said, "Proudly declare, I am a lover and never let love's burden be guilt"; "Love openly, fearlessly"; "intercaste & love marriages are the only way to stop this nation from disintegrating/dividing"; to the Khaps he said "Give your children the freedom to love, to spawn a generation of virtue, not vice".

I also really liked what Dr. Chaudhary said, "Traditions should be respected, but nature's law applies to tradition too. Tradition ought to change with time as society changes."

Check out the video below to watch the full episode with English subtitles:

Click HERE to read my other article about Love marriage/Arranged marriage in India.



  1. You can write to Love Commandos
    You can call helpline 00 91 9313784375
    You would like to visit

  2. @Alexandra

    Hey, finally some good news on inter caste marriages. I had to share it with you


    However, they have agreed to inter caste marriage but not marriage within the same village or cluster of villages belonging to the the same sub caste or Gotra.

    The khaps believe that entire village or cluster of villages belong to the same family tree which is defined by something called gotra

    They believe that the entire village of neighbouring village have descened from the same mythical father. So, technically everyone is a blood relative. Therefore, they cannot marry among themselves. It may well be true because in ancient times families and clans have migrated from one place to another due to famines, wars etc. in place of safer places. However, the jury is still out on this one. However, it would be interesting to see whether the parents themselves agree to inter caste marriages even if the Khaps agree to it, thought the khaps have decided to convene a meeting to build concensus on this issue.

    1. Great steps in the right direction...

  3. @Alexandra

    There is more good news. This is about the participation of women in khaps

    1. Of course the inter-caste idea was introduced by a woman ;) Women in power only improve societies!!!

  4. I am an Indian telugu girl and I am in love with a guy. I love him a lot. We are from different castes but still Hindus. My parents like him and his parents like me but our parents are more concerned about society. My father thinks he gave me so much freedom so that i fell in love. He thinks this mistake(love) happened because they didn't raise me properly. I love my parents. They too love me a lot. Love is not a mistake and I am raised properly that is why I know the meaning of love. If we are from same caste they would accept our love and do it as arranged marriage so the society won't mind. It is all about society not me and my happiness. We can't elope and get married because my parents can't live with respect after that. I am being torn between my parents and my love. I don't know what to do. Caste is the only barrier between us.

    1. If caste is the only barrier between you, then that is nothing. Your parents both like you guys together, you guys love each other, what is the problem? It is ridiculous to live by others' standards, who cares what they think because they aren't living your life. Caste is nothing, people love each other despite cultures and it is no problem. Love is worth it, don't give it up.


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