TV is no panacea

October 29, 2004

Does Maria Misra assume that the only need a post-Bharatiya Janata Party Government in India has is for a TV historian who "commands the fees of a David Starkey" (Working Knowledge, October 22)?

In spite of admitting that India has "several senior academic historians" (Misra names only one, Romila Thapar), Misra concludes that only "when India has its own David Starkeys, (will it) truly have transcended its communal and religious demons".

The implication is that only a Western historian has the answers to India's tensions; that, unlike Starkey, our senior historians were incompetent in their media appearances; and that all the answers to enable the swift "transcendence" of communal conflict that India seeks lie in the polished Western media performance.

With young Indian historians in the West glibly internalising and repeating the ideologies that sustained colonial rule by implying that the West had a civilising mission to tame the unruly natives, neocolonial-capitalists needn't look far for support. The "white man's burden" Kipling spoke of is now equally shared.

Dimple Godiwala
York St John College

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