“This Is London”
These were the words which brought people running to their radio systems as they eagerly put out an ear and cranked up the volume to listen to the daily briefings of the BBC World Service.
Throughout the empire (and beyond) this was THE service that people listened to. All announcements for major world events to take place in the last two centuries were preceded by these three words.
Suffice to say, the BBC was and is very, very popular. It’s news programs are watched internationally and its wartime coverage is pretty damn good.
But, the inherent racism and elitism do creep through.
The racism which for years had the outlet of colonialism and now oozes out slowly but viscerally in TV, print and the general, everyday conversation of the people of Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
GOSH, that’s a mouthful.
Be that as it may, the inherent superiority that the British felt and still feel over others is deeply entrenched in society, like watching soap operas is in ours. In fact, it is such a common habit that people hardly notice it, even when it plays out on national and international forums.
The racist BBC coverage of India is everywhere.
You might be thinking, what is this forum I am talking about? Well, it’s everywhere, but the most prominent one is that famous Shashi Tharoor video where he “destroys” a British journalist who claims that the effect of the British Empire on India and the world was positive.
Tharoor’s exemplary grammar(oh my Wren & Martin, whatte grammar) aside, that show gives a scary and realistic glimpse into how the post-colonial British mind works.
In another video, the anchor goes out and interviews people on the street about the British empire. In the first few minutes of that video, there is an interesting conversation, it goes something like this:
Anchor: What do you know about the British Empire?
Man: I believe we brought a lot of freedom to people..umm a lot of opportunities.
In another one,
Anchor: What do you know about the British Empire?
Woman: I believe they ruled over countries, I mean they helped rule other countries.
Noticed the clear lack of facts and basic knowledge among common people? Notice the clear sense of superiority that exists in the very psyche?
Now, this thought process didn’t become mainstream all by itself, adding on to the lack of knowledge, it was pounded into the people through regular programming by ye olde BBC.
If you start to notice, the general coverage of India by BBC documentaries is that of a poor country, basically what they left us as in 1947, just so that the British ego is soothed.
Any indication that India progressed after their divine presence was removed would drive home the point that development was not dependent on them.
Take the example of BBC’s Kolkata, a documentary by Sue Perkins, to quote Amit Chaudhuri’s article from The Guardian “[it] feel[s] like a private conversation some English people are having with each other: sweeping remarks that pass for historical research coupled with a fluent personal impressionism. Besides, it clearly hasn’t occurred to the makers of these programmes that Indians might be among their viewers – even though some of them are shown in India on BBC World.”
Not just this, In the journal of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, media analyst Ajai K. Rai reported that the BBC had fabricated photographs of the Kashmir conflict to make India look bad.
Another example is the clearly biased coverage of similar events.
While reporting on France’s 11,000 heat-related deaths, they say:
“We don’t want the consequences of this heatwave to be a macabre number, but rather an opportunity to truly understand the difficulties in the health and social networks, and to ensure that resources aren’t forgotten …”
But, on India’s 1000 odd deaths, it is presented with generous references to bears, frogs, and donkeys:
“Such acts seem bizarre but are a common ritual conducted in villages to invoke the rain gods“.
I got the above example from this article.
Check it out for examples of more skewed coverage of India by the BBC.
Adding on to that, the British children are hardly taught about their colonial past. Even when they are, they are not told all the facts and are instead led to believe that it was a fruitful endeavour for all parties as witnessed by the reporter example above.
In the aformentioned news show in which Shashi Tharoor was present, a young woman says openly that none of the things that Tharoor talked about (common knowledge for us Indians and atrocities/brutalities by British) are taught in British schools and whatever she knew about this issue, she had learned from his book.
This is how deep the problem is. We have a hugely influential broadcasting company showing negative, racist coverage of India while British kids are hidden from the realities of the atrocities that their forefathers committed or were party too, no wonder they argue openly that they owe nothing to us.
This tendency of some countries to forget their past their role in the status quo of countries should be attacked and brought out into the open. The narrative needs to be corrected so that when the dust steels, the books of history carry forward not the “racist BBC coverage of India” but a holistic reality.
And stop judging us, BBC. Even we don’t owe you anything.
Image Credits: Google Images
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