The Power of Narrative Persuasion

How an Entertainment-Education Serial Drama Tackled Open Defecation and Promoted Contraceptive Use in India

  • Hua Wang Associate Professor
  • Arvind Singhal Professor
  • Poonam Muttreja Executive Director
  • Alok Vajpeyi Joint Director
  • Ritesh Laddha Manager
  • Sanghamitra Singh Senior Manager
  • Paramita Dasgupta Mazumdar Director
  • Alok Srivastava Director
  • Vasanti Rao Director General
  • Sangeeta Saini Senior Campaign Manager
  • Dinesh Rautela Content Writer
  • Aaditeshwar Seth Director
Keywords: entertainment-education, serial drama, India, open defecation, toilet use, modern contraceptive use


Television and radio serial dramas have been used as an effective entertainment-education (EE) strategy to address complex health and social issues around the world.  In this article, we analyse India’s experience with the EE television serial, Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon Season 3 (I, A Woman, Can Achieve Anything, hereafter MKBKSH-3), broadcasted in 2019. Produced by Population Foundation of India, MKBKSH-3 purposely employed principles of narrative persuasion to tackle open defecation, promote contraceptive use, and advocate for gender equality in a deeply entrenched patriarchal system. As part of a larger programme evaluation, we conducted data collection using two complementary methods: (1) field experiments in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur Dehat district with repeated measures among viewers and non-viewers; and (2) viewer surveys through the popular interactive voice response system with callers from across 28 states and union territories. Wherever possible, we kept questions consistent to help triangulate research findings.  Our results indicate a significant increase in toilet ownership and decrease in open defecation among MKBKSH-3 viewers. Further, MKBKSH-3’s characters and storylines helped raise awareness of injectable contraceptives, and viewers—both male and female—displayed an increased likelihood of moving toward adopting contraceptives that were promoted. These empirical findings add to the growing literature on the value of entertainment-education serial dramas as enabling media for social and behaviour change.

Author Biographies

Hua Wang, Associate Professor

Department of Communication, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA

Arvind Singhal, Professor

The University of Texas, El Paso, Texas, USA, and Professor 2, Inland University of Applied Sciences, Norway

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director

Population Foundation of India, New Delhi, India

Alok Vajpeyi, Joint Director

Core Grants & Knowledge Management, Population Foundation of India, New Delhi, India

Ritesh Laddha, Manager

Monitoring and Evaluation, Population Foundation of India, New Delhi, India

Sanghamitra Singh, Senior Manager

Knowledge Management & Partnerships, Population Foundation of India, New Delhi, India

Paramita Dasgupta Mazumdar, Director

CMS Communication, Centre for Media Studies, New Delhi, India

Alok Srivastava, Director

CMS Social, Centre for Media Studies, New Delhi, India

Vasanti Rao, Director General

Centre for Media Studies, New Delhi, India

Sangeeta Saini, Senior Campaign Manager

Gram Vaani, Gurugram, India

Dinesh Rautela, Content Writer

Gram Vaani, Gurugram, India

Aaditeshwar Seth, Director

Gram Vaani, Gurugram, India

How to Cite
Wang, H., Singhal, A., Muttreja, P., Vajpeyi, A., Laddha, R., Singh, S., Mazumdar, P., Srivastava, A., Rao, V., Saini, S., Rautela, D., & Seth, A. (2020). The Power of Narrative Persuasion. The Journal of Development Communication, 31(2), 1-13. Retrieved from