Thoughts on the BBC’s Partition series of news, films and debates

Thoughts on the BBC’s Partition series of news, films and debates

By Antonia Filmer | 19 August, 2017
India’s Independence, BBC’s Partition series, news, documentary, discussion programmes, democracy

On the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence every reference to India begins with “the world’s most populous democracy”, to inform how this happened the BBC has been running a series of news, documentary and discussion programmes about Partition (on Newsnight, News at 10, BBC1 and Radio 4). Through vintage film footage, photographic stills and survivors stories the programmes catalogue the catastrophic organisation by the British, the hurried timescale, the lack of civil servants, the incoherent planning, the resulting horrors and violence and the post-traumatic stress suffered by refugees and witnesses. The British Viceroy and his administration, including Cyril Radcliffe, are thoroughly vilified. It is shocking to watch how the opulence and arrogance of the Viceregal administration is disconnected from village India, migrating en masse with no assistance, provision for their futures or protection. Some British are upset by BBC’s Brit-bashing.

All the recollections are acutely painful and shameful to hear, massacre, murder, killing, rape and mob violence are the recurring words. Terrible personal accounts from distressed-displaced Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims; inter-faith sweethearts are permanently severed, families are separated forever but courtesy of the BBC some return to trace their past; the BBC have been criticised for having a soft spot for the Pakistan point of view. Panellists have argued if and how the past is relevant to today, one academic claimed UK and India should “move on” and casually compared the greatest enforced movement of people in the history of the world to Brexit- a legislative divorce with no mortalities. 

Many in the Indian citizenry of UK are concerned that Hinduism is frequently negatively portrayed, the preferred MSM theme of intolerance has done nothing to promote mutual understanding or good relations.

The notion that a Hindu ruler could not rule fairly over a Muslim minority is disturbing, this divisive theme is deliberately referenced to the present day and also echoed in The Guardian newspaper, who consistently run anti-India, anti-BJP and anti-Modi editorials. On 14thAugust 2017 The Guardian ran a derogatory editorial under the heading “India at 70: democracy in action”, printed above the picture of PM Modi was “India’s pluralistic democracy—which, like the EU, works because no single culture or language is central to its identity or unity—is under threat from rightwing Hindu extremists”. Many in the Indian citizenry of UK are concerned that Hinduism is frequently negatively portrayed, the preferred MSM theme of intolerance has done nothing to promote mutual understanding or good relations. The Partition scars left on the psyche and pride of descendant Indians are evident and manifest in the behaviour and politics of today. 

Young people in UK have been appalled at their own ignorance, the emotional outpouring and interest in the past has been overwhelming. These programmes have raised the deficit in the British education system, in that the British empire that ended so ingloriously and gave India the quality democratic political system it enjoys today is not taught in the curriculum, let alone with any sincere understanding of history or hindsight. 

 

   

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