Chandrika Kaul credits American media for India’s independence

Chandrika Kaul credits American media for India’s independence

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Chandrika Kaul presents at the College of Arts and Science’s Dean’s Colloquium about the American media’s role in ending British imperialism in India

Though relatively unknown, America’s press helped India gain independence, according to Dr. Chandrika Kaul, who spoke at the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Colloquium last Thursday, April 5.
Kaul, who teaches modern history at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland, mainly credited William Shirer of the Chicago Tribune for his extensive coverage in the South Asian country, whose deep friendship with Gandhi helped further expose him to the world.
“I think the American media was very important, because it was very supportive of aspects of nationalism, and very critical of British imperialism,” said Kaul.
A particularly interesting fact that Kaul mentioned is that the American media did not cover the actual movement as much as they covered Gandhi himself, saying that the movement would not have been the same without him.
“There were a lot of leaders around at the time that didn’t want to deal with the media. They thought it was beneath them, and he didn’t,” Kaul said. “The fact is the media helped make him a persona, and the first person to admit that would be Gandhi himself.”
The media would often highlight how simple Gandhi was. He would never wear anymore than rags, and would rather sleep on the deck of a ship than in a bed. This coverage is what made Gandhi so popular in India and America alike, thus putting immense pressure on Britain to pull out of India, according to Kaul.
She also commented on the importance of having a leader in any mass movement.
“It’s virtually impossible to find any mass movement in history that was led by a committee,” Kaul said. “You only need to have a few to lead a good movement, but you need that few.”
She was hoping that the students of AMK realize the values that America has continuously fought for over the years.
“My point is about American support for the rights of individual self determination. I think the students of universities need to be proud of the achievements of journalists who covered India in such a meaningful way,” she said. “You need to be a little bit prouder of some things that you didn’t even know you did. I was trying to bring home to an American audience a little bit about their own history.”