Before I left for Japan for the first time, I spent my four-month long holiday studying a load of indian history. Borrowing some ICSE textbooks from my seniors at school, I spent those afternoons flipping through pages and learning about the cruelty of the British Raj-they imposed heavy taxes, abolished cultural practices, reduced the income of indians and were downright racist. I felt a strong hatred for them especially when I read the chapter speaking about how indian soldiers were “stripped off their clothes in humiliation” when they disobeyed their rulers. i found myself completely empathising with my ancestors, leaving through that dreadful, restricted era. While I was in school, our history classes in school look a lot into international situations and disputes and opposing attitudes towards it, especially pertaining to Japan, such as the comfort women issue and the Senkaku islands dispute. I naturally felt myself siding with Japan, reading Japanese and international sources. It wasn’t that other countries, like China and Korea weren’t right, but the press and style of writing itself had altered my understanding and beliefs over the issue.
As i’m writing these words a year later, I realised that my personal views about international or historical affairs, pertaining to India like The Kashmir conflict, India’s freedom struggle and India-Pakistan relations have been taught to me from an Indian point of view. i’ve only been able to see why Indians are justified in their opinion, not the view of the other country involved. This is why the press and mass media plays such an important role in today’s society-people form their opinions, beliefs and ideologies based on what they read. On a positive note, it enhances patriotism and helps them empathise with people involved in the situation, but it doesn’t always give an overall view of the problem or situation. if today’s students and youngsters have limited understanding of an intercultural problem, their decisions will be biased as well. This isn’t always the fault of the education board or journalists-as each individual has different circumstances and situations that gives them news or information from varying sources. One thing readers must keep in mind is knowing the value and restriction of each source, especially if it pertains to an issue involving multiple sides or opinions.
Going back to my history textbook, i’m sure the british weren’t as mean as the writers made out, and neither can I say that I understand India’s freedom struggle completely as I only know the indian point of view. Nevertheless, India’s history textbooks, press and mass media plays an enormous role in bringing together tonnes of indians to know what is going on, or what was happening in their country.