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Gandhi Meets Primetime

Gandhi Meets Primetime: Globalization and Nationalism in Indian Television

Shanti Kumar
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Gandhi Meets Primetime
    Book Description:

    Shanti Kumar's Ghandi Meets Primetime examines how cultural imaginations of national identity have been transformed by the rapid growth of satellite and cable television in postcolonial India. To evaluate the growing influence of foreign and domestic satellite and cable channels since 1991, the book considers a wide range of materials including contemporary television programming, historical archives, legal documents, policy statements, academic writings and journalistic accounts._x000B_Kumar argues that India's hybrid national identity is manifested in the discourses found in this variety of empirical sources. He deconstructs representations of Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation on the state-sponsored network Doordarshan and those found on Rupert Murdoch's STAR TV network. The book closely analyzes print advertisements to trace the changing status of the television set as a cultural commodity in postcolonial India and examines publicity brochures, promotional materials and programming schedules of Indian-language networks to outline the role of vernacular media in the discourse of electronic capitalism. The empirical evidence is illuminated by theoretical analyses that combine diverse approaches such as cultural studies, poststructuralism and postcolonial criticism. _x000B__x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09166-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Unimaginable Communities
    (pp. 1-22)

    WE LIVE IN A DYNAMIC WORLD of electronic capitalism where traditional definitions of nationality, community, and identity are always in flux. We are only beginning to understand the significance of transnational networks such as CNN, MTV, and STAR TV, which can bypass national governments and can connect with television viewers with the click of a remote-control button. We have scarcely recognized the growing influence of translocal media networks such as Eenadu TV, Sun TV, and Zee TV, which can strategically use linguistic appeal to affiliate with the vernacular interests of domestic viewers and diasporic communities. We are witnessing the digital...

  5. 1 From Doordarshan to Prasar Bharati: The Search for Autonomy in Indian Television
    (pp. 23-54)

    AROUND 3:00 P.M. on November 12, 2001, the viewers of Doordarshan and the listeners of All India Radio were treated to a rare address that had been broadcast to the nation by Mahatma Gandhi on the same day in 1947. The historic event was recreated to commemorate the fifty-fourth anniversary of Gandhi’s first and last visit to the Broadcasting House in Delhi to record his message to refugees who had been violently displaced from their homes by the Partition of India and Pakistan. At the commemoration ceremony, some of Gandhi’s favoritebhajans(devotional songs) were also played, and a new...

  6. 2 At Home, In the World: The Viewing Practices of Indian Television
    (pp. 55-92)

    INPROVINCIALIZING EUROPE,Dipesh Chakrabarty argues that Benedict Anderson’s influential notion of nations as imagined communities is a useful reminder that imagination is a very real and productive phenomenon in everyday life, and therefore should not be understood as something that is false or unreal.¹ Although the central argument ofImagined Communitiescautions us against reading imagination to mean false, Chakrabarty finds that Anderson takes its meaning to be self-evident. Yet in European thought—which is Anderson’s starting point in the history of imagined communities—the meaning of the word “imagination” has a long and complex genealogy. For Chakrabarty, the...

  7. 3 Between Tradition and Modernity: The Development of an “Indian” Community of Television
    (pp. 93-118)

    IN THIS CHAPTER, I address the question “Is there anIndiancommunity of television?” by critically evaluating the utopian vision of using satellite communications for national development in the postcolonial world. In the first section, I outline the utopian theory of “development” and discuss how its central tenet—that satellite television can alleviate social underdevelopment—became the dominant paradigm in international communications in the second half of the twentieth century. In the second section, I discuss critiques of the “development” paradigm in terms of theories of “imperialism” that have been forcefully articulated by Marxist critics of Western capitalism; particularly by...

  8. 4 “Gandhi Meet Pepsi”: Nationalism and Electronic Capitalism in Indian Television
    (pp. 119-154)

    “GANDHI MEET PEPSI,” declared the headline for an article written by the noted feminist scholar Urvashi Butalia (1994) in theIndependent on Sunday.¹ The headline is heady, the contrast clever, and the significance stunning. The superstar of Indian nationalism forced to face the rising star of transnational consumerism; the authorial symbol of the struggle for independence of the great-grandparents’ generation asked to accede to the chilling choice of a new generation’s transnational interdependence; the deified signifier of Orientalist renunciation compelled to make room for the reified significance of Occidentalist consumption. One could go on, but the ingenious headline makes the...

  9. 5 Nikki Tonight, Gandhi Today: Television, Glocalization, and National Identity
    (pp. 155-186)

    IN 1927, at the peak of India’s freedom struggle against British colonialism, Catherine Mayo published her blatantly imperialist bookMother India.¹ Mayo’s prejudiced view of Indian culture and traditions generated considerable controversy among the Indian literati, who called on the British government to ban the book. Mahatma Gandhi is said to have dismissed Mayo’s book, describing it as “the report of a drain inspector sent out with the one purpose of opening and examining the drains of the country to be reported upon.”² However, with characteristic irony Gandhi added that every Indian ought to read the book. There was something...

  10. Conclusion: Is There an Indian Community of Television?
    (pp. 187-202)

    IN 1991, just as the explosion of foreign and domestic satellite television channels began to transform the political, cultural, and economic landscape in India,Seminar,an influential academic journal, devoted an entire issue to the problematic of status of the nation as a unified community in relation to the many cultural differences of religion, region, language, class, caste, and so on. This is how D. P. Pattanayak opened the debate on Indian nationalism in his introductory essay, entitled “The Problem”:

    In a pluri-cultural society identity assumes a depth and complexity which is difficult to unravel. Linguistic, regional and religious identities...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 203-218)
    (pp. 219-230)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 231-240)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-245)