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Summary

Broadcaster Anita Rani's story is of a long-hidden family secret, one rooted in India’s Partition in 1947. A secret that changed not just everything Anita thought she knew about Britain’s legacy in India... but rocked her own sense of identity.

©2019 Audible, Ltd. (P)2019 Audible, Ltd.

What listeners say about Ep. 1: Anita Rani

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The most unbiased review I can give.


Okay, this is a history series which has mixed reviews currently. So I am aiming to provide an unbiased review of this series.

Before I can do this, I think it’s important the reader of this review understand where my perspective is coming from. So I feel It is important for you to have an idea of whom I am.
I am a British Indian born in England to a farther who was born in India and a mother who was born in Uganda (but is Indian). My religion is Hindu. I consider myself to be British and I have a strong connection to my Indian culture. But, as everyone who is like me (a first generation immigrant) I have a sense of displacement as I am very British in parts of my life and very Indian in others. That’s me.

THE REVIEW
This series is hard to listen too. It’s supposed to be. The series is a look at the dark side of the empire. As always empires spread opportunity and suffering, this series looks more at the suffering, something which is not widely discussed when the empire is discussed today. An understanding of that is important before you start listening to this series.

There are many positives in this series and some negatives. I will discuss both below and provide some final thoughts at the end.

POSITIVES
I actually learned something when listening to this series. There is a lot of information to digest but this program is done exceptionally well in the sense that the history is told less like a list of facts but more as a story, which convey’s emotion and allows us the listener to understand the actual impact the empire had on families and communities. As a result, more information is able to be absorbed.

The episode which Benjamin Zephaniah is the one I can most closely relate too. As my parents still feel that the empire will be victorious. For example Brexit my dad says to me every time I see him and this topic is discussed that ‘they ruled the world, they’re smart enough to deal with Brexit’. And it’s that sense of blind faith discussed in the Benjamin Zephaniah episode which I most relate too and I think others would too.

I found this to be an exceptionally hard listen personally. I lobe being British and I don’t like it generally when people speak against the country which I love. But I also love my heritage and people and I found myself very conflicted when I listen to this series. Which for me was a good thing. As only looking at the positives or one view is what too many people do about the information they are provided and it causes more divide in the world.

There is real emotion in the stories being told. People who have gone back and some their research and seen how the empire has ripped through their families and communities of old and how that has had an impact on them today is hard hitting, emotional and educational.

This is not a side bar of British history. It is British history. This series allows us to understand how the majority of the empire saw and treated the people whom they colonised. It is important for us to listen to this and get a full picture of the whole subject matter.

NEGATIVES
The only one big negative I have of this series is the Dame Diana Rigg episode. I thought the episode was wonderful as she described how she grew up on the last days of the British empire in India and how the people greeted her and how she loved the people and the culture and how she engaged with it all etc. It was going so well until she discussed the separation of India and said ‘Muslims and Hindi’s [sic] become enemies overnight’
Hindi is a language Hinduism is a religion of which the followers are called Hindu’s
It’s the fact that she called Hindu people Hindi people. It seems like a minor detail yet if Dame Diana loved the people and the culture and was always surrounded by Indian people and learnt so much, how can you get the name of the major religion in India wrong? Maybe I’m judging that too harshly, maybe it was a slip of the tongue. But that is vey early ever forgiven the other way around.

Another point is that this series can sometimes only focus on the negatives of the empire which isn’t always fair as the empire did do some wonderful things for the colonised countries. But as stated earlier this is a look at the harder, darker side of empire.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I think this series is worth a listen if you like the empire and want a fuller understanding of the subject matter.
What this series should not be is a conduit of hate and anger toward British people.
If this series taught me anything it’s to become more accepting of the people in this world, embarrass the wealth of culture in Britain and the world and understand we are all one people.
If still in this world you see the likes of someone else of a different race, religious or disability and believe that another human being does not deserve the same humanity, respect and care as you, then you are the problem in the world we live in today.

I would recommend this series.

4 people found this helpful

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Wow, thank you for sharing this

Beautifully eloquent. This doesn’t show my (British) ancestors in a good light, it’s a presentation of the other side’s point of view. History happened, we cannot change it, but we can acknowledge and learn from it. There is no bitterness in the beautiful way this story is told, just a presentation of a terrible experience inflicted by British politicians on India in 1947, and how an individual was able to rebuild a happy life with hope and wisdom gained.

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Hypocrisy At It’s Worst

Time and time again we hear narrators describing their experiences of Empire and the connotations of racism while at the same time looking down their nose and propagating the same bigotry they accuse others of.
Example: in one episode we hear how a young Indian girl was shipped off to India while all her friends were “snogging boys in Holland“ and then both the narrator and Hirsch smirkingly conclude how her experience a ‘long holiday in India’ was superior to that of the white English girls.
No, this series is about one thing and one thing only, NOT equality, rather the transfer of power from one group to another. We see it in United States of America what with their “identity politics“ and we are seeing it in the United Kingdom. So please, let’s not pretend shall we? Let’s get this out there and examine the narrative for what it truly is.

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Sadly predictable

I find it highly hypocritical that someone who has been a beneficiary of the so called empires top institutions, such as Oxford university, the guardian newspaper, among others, is so highly critical. Sadly the ideas put forward in this podcast are rather predictable. One can’t examine history under a 21st century lens.

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Great, uplifting and empowering talk.

A very good and positive talk about some difficult themes. Which I am sure will help ‘people’ who find these discussions make them feel like the villain.
It’s not about you!!!🤣

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Great mix of personal/general history

History of India and Empire with a focus on one woman's family. I'm a teacher and it infuriates me that history is not a required subject at GCSE and that Empire is barely taught.

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Biased piece of nonsense

All the stated facts are there just to support conclusions which has been established from the very beginning. Very disappointing as the podcast had a great potential.

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Amazing

Heartbreaking stories that I would never have learned otherwise. Thank you for putting. This together.

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Excellent - understand some of the bad points

Empire is complex bringing both gods and bad qualities. It is worth understanding some of the down falls of a global system especially when the world may be moving more in that direction. Making mistakes allows us to learn and develop.


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Not what I was expecting

If you like real people's stories that's includes a lot of suffering you might like this.
But the only thing it has to do with this country is that the people who's stories are being told live in this country, though their relatives who stories they are telling didn't, just from smaller places that we once ruled over.
Was expecting a history of this country and our once great empire, not other countries.