H C Singh

BBC India with Sanjeev Bhaskar – Brief Review and Comments

In the introduction Sanjeev Bhaskar has spoken about his childhood in London and how his family lived in one room tenement over the launderette managed by his father for livelihood. His parents along with his grandparents and other relatives had to leave Lahore, their residence with all their belongings and crossed over to India and lived in Delhi as refugees. In his own words after hearing the violent events about Partition of India from his parents: “Partition was the violent and bloody separation of Old India which took place in 1947- All that I knew about partition from my parents was that it was horrendous, that the family somehow survived and that my fathers family lost everything and came to Delhi as refugees.” However Sanjeev as a young boy in London was easy going but was confused as and when he thought of his roots in ancestral homeland India. Thus he was anxious to visit India and reached New Delhi along with BBC Team and Stephen Fry in 2006.

First chapter is “Bombay Dreams.” He call Bombay city of dreams, showing in the opposite page picture of Bombay’s skyscrapers brilliantly illuminated and thereafter showing over local train as well as taxis he calls ‘lethargic bees’ in the traffic jams. No doubt Bhaskar is exited to visit Bombay. See textile factories like of Raymonds and go to Bollywood to see Shilpa Shetty dancing. He also mentions about the localities of poor workers living by daily work mostly without any modern facilities. He describes with enthusiasm Bombay’s Ganpati festival with bewitching photos of Hindu God Hanuman sitting on the decorated chair and standing symbolically carrying something like heavy tray and being followed by crowds. He mentions the thinking of the elite of Bombay to make their Bombay, Los Angeles of India and mentions on the same page potteries with open dung fires and their children shabbily dressed in Asias largest slums.

Bhaskar had come to India to find his roots and see the country where his parents in 1947 were refugees. As explained in previous para, his visit to various states of India is without political, diplomatic or religious comments. He tells what he saw, though his description of places is splendid or spellbound even. After visiting Bombay he visits South India and describes Allepy near Cochin. He is impressed by more than 20 women rowers in big boat practicing to participate in Nehru Race. His presentation of photograph, too, is very impressive. Then he pays visit to shrines on Ganga river as he is, though a British Indian was born in a Hindu family. Then he visits Delhi and is equally impressed by Jamma Masjid of Delhi full of thousands of Muslim devotees praying as Muslim do in their Namaz. He captures this scene with the help of BBC team accompanying him in a befitting photograph. Before culminating his first tour of India he visits Golden Temple Amritsar and calls it appropriately, “the pool of the Immortal Nector reflecting the Sikh’s holiest shrine.” This photograph and another of Golden Temple are very impressive, like, other photographs mentioned above. Finally, before concluding the visit of his motherland Bhaskar visits Lahore now in Pakistan where his parents were born and lived happily and comfortably before they had to migrate to India after partition of India.

Before Sanjeev Bhaskar’s book is reviewed, it is noteworthy to point out as to why the book is entitled ‘BBC India with Sanjeev Bhaskar’ and Stephen Frys’ comments on the cover page, ‘Sanjeev brings India alive.’ Also on the back of cover page is printed ‘Book is published with permission of BBC’ In the out set thus it is obvious that version of the book is what is approved by BBC and is without any adverse comments or views of Sanjeev Bhaskar, which criticize the British government’s encouragement to the formation of Muslim League and British help to Jinnah becoming its President and intensifying demand for and creation of Pakistan leading to partition of India and horrifying partition riots initiated by Pakistan under Jinnah as Governor General and a British C-in-C of Pakistan. Accordingly, with the approval of BBC, nothing in the book by Sanjeev Bhaskar’s about British conspiracy before and during the partition culminating in ruthless massacre of lakhs Sikhs and Hindus first, even which started before actual partition and thereafter by Muslims. In retaliation massacre of Muslims in Indian Punjab by Sikhs and Hindus. After the loss of million innocent lives and unprecented migration from both sides of more then ten million, who came empty handed as refugees. Why Kashmir is not mentioned? Mountbatten, independent India’s first Governor General mischievously added that will of the people ‘Will be taken into account afterwards,’ while accepting the instrument of accession of Kashmir to India. Had Mountbatten not added these few words, there would have been no Kashmir problem as in none of about 500 princely states that acceded to India such a clause had been added as conditional or temporary accession.

All said about Kashmir and his BBC’s permission to publish his book, it is to do justice to Bhaskar, who was an actor on BBC programs and made his name but he was not a writer or philosopher. Before concluding the brief review and comments it is befitting to add a para from his book para that summarizes his thinking about India.

“India remains a dizzying edifice. Goddesses are worshiped and the women have occupied the most powerful position in the land. It is the largest democracy in the world and yet a significant proportion of the population are illiterate. The wealth divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ is increasing dramatically as India becomes a global player. The destitute number 500 million- and that has hell of ‘have nots’. If the gulf becomes unbridgeable, then what will happen to this underclass? Revolution has traditionally come from this group of people and half a billion people can make heck of noise.”

This is what Bhaskar felt in 2006. But despite corruption having touched the heights because 2G and other scams, as per latest census, literacy in increasing and the percentage of Indians below poverty line has also declined during last decade. In addition with significant decline in corruption with the help of Supreme Court, JPC and India, being basically a democracy will not face a revolution as Bhaskar imagined but would shine in the world as one of the three global powers because of technological and industrial development which are going ahead.

April 13, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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