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‘Do I talk into this thing?’ These were the first words ever broadcast live, albeit inadvertently, by Mohandas Gandhi ahead of his speech to the USA. The year was 1931 and the location, London. Gandhi was in town as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress to attend the Second Round Table Conference. He was just weeks shy of his 62nd birthday. This episode adapted from a BIC Streams session with Chandrika Kaul in conversation with Jawhar Sircar focussed on Gandhi and radio, a subject that has been curiously neglected, both in studies of Gandhi and of broadcasting. Gandhi’s engagement with radio, the circumstances surrounding his broadcasts, and his interaction with broadcasters, were analysed to help situate the medium within the Mahatma’s media repertoire and evaluated its impact.
Dr Chandrika Kaul, is Reader in Modern History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, U.K.
Her monographs include Reporting the Raj, the British Press and India (Studies in Imperialism series, Manchester UP 2003 & Indian edition 2017), and, Communications, Media and the Imperial Experience: Britain and India in the Twentieth Century (Palgrave Macmillan 2014, 2017). Dr Kaul’s edited and co-edited books include Media and the British Empire (2006, 2013); Explorations in Modern Indian History and the Media (Media History 2009); International Communications and Global News Networks (2011); News of the World and the British Press 1843–2011 (2015); Media and the Portuguese Empire (2017); and, M. K. Gandhi, Media, Politics and Society: New Perspectives (2020). She has also written over thirty articles in peer reviewed journals and edited collections.
Dr Kaul is a Co-Founder and Editor of the book series: ‘Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media’ (Palgrave Macmillan). She sits on the Advisory and Editorial Boards of the journalsMedia History (Routledge) and Twentieth Century British History (OUP) as well as the book series, Studies in Imperialism, (MUP). She is a co-founder and former Vice President of the South Asian Studies Association(USA) and currently sits on its Board.
Jawhar Sircar retired in 2012, after four decades in the IAS — as India’s longest serving Culture Secretary. He was immediately appointed CEO of Prasar Bharati in charge of All India Radio & Doordarshan for five years.
He is known for his research in Social History, Indian Civilisation and Culture, Media and on the Anthropology of Religion. Sircar contributes regularly to reputed Indian and foreign newspapers and journals. He has been awarded by the British Museum and the 235-year old Asiatic Society for his contribution to art, culture and civilisational studies. His monograph: The Construction of the Hindu Identity in Medieval Western Bengal: The Role of Popular Cults was well received in India and abroad.
He is a known pubic speaker and opinion-maker and he was recently honoured by NCPA Mumbai to deliver the prestigious Dr Jahangir Bhabha Memorial Lecture on the Arts. He has also addressed international institutions like UNESCO and dozens of foreign and Indian universities and forums — on Indian culture, civilisation and media.
He is the former chairman of the the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta