NEW DELHI, India. 31 October 2011 – Doordarshan and UNICEF are celebrating the 501st episode of ‘Kyunki Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai‘ (meaning ‘Because… That’s What Life Is’) being aired on Doordarshan National on 31 October 2011. This broadcast makes Kyunki… one of the longest-running soap operas on Indian television.
A flagship of UNICEF’s Facts for Life Communication Initiative, this innovative social and behaviour change teleserial provides life-enhancing, life-saving messages critical to the welfare and survival of children and mothers, addressing many of the underlying behavioural issues that are important to India’s progress in meeting the MDG’s. It is also among the first for Indian television vis-à-vis this kind of format, messaging and packaging (tackling social and behaviour change issues critical to the development of rural India).
In the celebratory 501st episode, viewers will have many reasons to rejoice too. The episode has two much awaited weddings: Hiralal, a teacher, marries Savita, who is an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and Kamala, who is an ASHA worker, weds the heir of the bada ghar (big landlord). Another positive event is the swearing-in ceremony of Phoolwati, who has been re-elected as the sarpanch (elected village head).
Inspiring real-life heroes
The true success of Kyunki Jeena has been its ability to inspire unassuming individuals in the remotest corners of rural India to be the change they – and all Indians -- want to see. They are speaking up against social evils, challenging some of the old traditions and norms pertaining to health, education, sanitation and other social issues.
Bringing in a social change while discarding the old habits and practices that are contrary to the practices of a society entails patience and perseverance and they are well aware of it. But these people are confident and committed, being armed with the knowledge that they have derived from Kyunki Jeena.
Viewers have been writing in with feedback and about their stories of change. UNICEF will have the privilege of honouring some of these real-life heroes at a function celebrating the 501st episode of Kyunki Jeena to be held at UNICEF House in New Delhi on 4 November 2011.
Continuing the good work
After inspiring vast numbers of individuals and communities around India the production of new episodes of Kyunki Jeena is now drawing to a close. However, the broadcast of the 501st episode in the serial does not mark the end of Kyunki Jeena. Collaborations with satellite and regional broadcasting networks are being sought for re-broadcast of the show.
In addition, the Kyunki Jeena… content has been expanded to a series of 43 videos covering 13 key themes have been recently developed using the stories and messages from the first 130 episodes of the serial. These videos have been created with the vision of inspiring grassroots dialogue among women. They are viewed and discussed regularly in small groups around India, and are facilitated by trained frontline workers. Although this small group discussion format has only recently rolled out, it is already showing great potential, and is giving women the opportunity to question norms and conventions that they would not be able to contest in their families.
From the tracks from the second season of the show, UNICEF has produced 10 one-hour long thematic films. These films don’t require a facilitator and are designed for use with a mixed audience, not exclusively women. In response to the fast growing mobile phone industry in India, UNICEF is now adapting the content from Kyunki Jeena to the cellular platforms. Further, a radio adaptation of Kyunki Jeena… is planned.
Audiences across India will surely continue to enjoy and learn from Kyunki Jeena for many years to come!