[Desi Spotting = finding South Asian elements in mainstream stories]
After managing to do a South Asia-related post about the passing of Michael Jackson, I couldn't help putting something together about the death of Walter Cronkite. (And yes, there's more than just the fact that he was known, Indian-style, as "Uncle Walter.")
He was the first newscaster I remember watching upon my arrival in the U.S as a nine-year-old (I wouldn't become a regular Peter Jennings watcher - ABC's "World News Tonight" featured Jennings then as part of a three-anchor format - till after Cronkite left the CBS anchor chair). I also remember that my dad, who molded my news-junkiness, was a Cronkite fan and I have vivid memories of watching "Uncle Walter" with him.
As soon as I heard he'd died, I posted a note about watching him with my dad on Facebook and Twitter and two Indian friends said that they, too, thought of their own fathers when they heard the news.
Long-time SAJA member, Lavina Melwani (whose new blog is Lassi With Lavina), wrote on my FB wall about another aspect of Cronkite's TV work:
During his run as host of the "CBS Evening News" from 1962 to 1981, many historic events took place in South Asia and he told millions of Americans about those events. A quick search of the Vanderbilt University Television Archive shows abstracts from hundreds of such stories. Click through the listings here to read some of the abstracts. Some of the stories were just short items, such as this 40-second report in June 1974:
(Studio) Smallpox epidemic hits India. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh hardest hit. REPORTER: Walter Cronkite.
Others were longer, like this five-minute story in Dec. 1971 about the fighting in the war that created the independent nation of Bangladesh.
REPORTER: Walter Cronkite (Hili, E. Pakistan) Indians meet heavy Pakistani resistance at Hili, though Pakistanis cut off from supplies and outnumbered.
REPORTER: Bert Quint (Studio) In Calcutta, India, India's Chief of Staff in E. Major General J.F.R. Jacob replies to questions about captured Pakistanis.
REPORTER: Walter Cronkite p> <p> (Calcutta, India) [JACOB - says POWs realize Pakistan is losing, due to cuts in communications, supplies; will continue fight.]
(Studio) India repulses E. Pakistan air sweep across Kashmir.
REPORTER: Walter Cronkite (Kashmir, India) Indians have harder time in west as West Pakistan has air support Journalism tightly controlled.
REPORTER: Richard Wagner (narrates) (Studio) CBS has 8 reporters in E. Pakistan; unable to send film. Pakistan agrees to United Nations cease-fire and withdrawal proposal; India refuses until E. Pakistan Bangladesh government recognized.
REPORTER: Walter Cronkite
This two-minute story in Jan. 1980 was all about globalization before the topic became so popular. It's about the impact of "Made in India" manhole covers imported into America:
(Studio) Report introduced REPORTER: Walter Cronkite
(Lodi, California) Impact on Jim Pinkerton's foundry business by import of India-made manhole covers examined; details given, films shown. [PINKERTON - comments.] Criticism of imports outlined; anticipated size of United States manhole market India expects to corner this year mentioned. [Export Council of India spokesperson South Kumar MISRA - comments.] [PINKERTON - comments.] Pinkerton said taking issue to DC. REPORTER: Terry Drinkwater
Some other random stuff includes a 2006 video of Cronkite endorsing the work of The Smile Train, the cleft-palate charity that does major work in India, China and elsewhere. The same organization produced the documentary, "Smile Pinki" (the OTHER India-based film about poor kids that won an Oscar in 2009):
Here's an amusing story about Cronkite's rather intimate encounter with the most famous Indian woman of her time, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, excerpted from his autobiography, "A Reporter's Life":
What other Desi connections did we miss? Post your thoughts below. ALSO: Does anyone know if he ever visited South Asia? Are there any photos of him there?