Calling from London, Talking to India: South Asian Networks at the BBC and the Case of G. V. Desani
In the 1940s, the Indian section of the BBC was an important focal point for South Asian writers, intellectuals and their British counterparts.1 As such, it became ‘a complicated network of mutually creative cross- cultural contacts and interfaces’, fostering important creative exchanges, which resulted in many lasting friendships and affiliations.2 More importantly, the collaboration of British and South Asian writers, broadcasting specifically to India for Indian audiences, challenged paradigms of centre and periphery, highlighting the existence of more complex relationships and connections in the imperial metropolis. The background to the career of writer and broadcaster G. V. Desani is a case in point. The variety of his outputs and the ways he sought to carve out a niche in Britain’s literary landscape of the 1940s leads us to consider the nature of his relationship with the BBC in the context of his search for cultural acceptance. By focusing on the Indian Section more broadly, and on Desani in particular, this chapter will explore how the BBC became a hub for cultural encounter and political debate, despite its clearly propagandist brief in wartime.
KeywordsIndian Section Imperial Institute Cultural Encounter South Asian Language Collect Essay
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