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Interview with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Interview with Wall Street Journal Higher Education Reporter Douglas Belkin; Interview with "Empireworld" Author Sathnam Sanghera. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 02, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.

UCLA becomes the latest university to allow law enforcement to clear the student protesters. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders joins me.

Then, Israel's war on Gaza and the humanitarian crisis that's fueling these demonstrations. We have a special report on the Israeli strike that killed

at least 11 children.

And --


DOUGLAS BELKIN, HIGHER EDUCATION REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Their experience was just more isolated than their predecessors have been.

They've been less social. They've been in their dorm rooms more, in the gym less, in the cafeteria less.


AMANPOUR: The class that missed out. Wall Street Journal education reporter Douglas Belkin tells Hari Sreenivasan how COVID isolation could be

impacting the student protests today.

Also, ahead --


SATHNAM SANGHERA, AUTHOR, "EMPIREWORLD": The Congress Party is the party of decolonization.


AMANPOUR: The stakes in India's massive election. My conversation with journalist Sathnam Sanghera about India Today, and his new book on the

legacy of British colonialism.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. The campus protests have reached the White House and that President Joe Biden

has now made his first public comments since they began speaking right after police crackdowns.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: There should be no place on any campus, no place in America, for antisemitism or threats of violence against Jewish

students. There is no place for hate speech or violence of any kind, whether it's antisemitism, Islamophobia, or discrimination against Arab-

Americans or Palestinian-Americans. It's simply wrong. There's no place for racism in America. It's all wrong. It's un-American.

I understand people have strong feelings and deep convictions. In America, we respect the right and protect the right for them to express that. But it

doesn't mean anything goes.


AMANPOUR: This morning, UCLA became the latest to call in police on its own students, many of whom had been camping out to protest the war and

humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Law enforcement clearing their encampment, arrested and zip cuffed students. The university had called for people to

disperse earlier, saying police deem their demonstration an unlawful assembly.

Now, these protests have been spreading across the United States, spearheaded by Columbia University. And so far, more than 1,800 people have

been arrested on college and university campuses since April 18th. While the demands by students vary somewhat, they are all calling for a ceasefire

and many want their colleges to divest from companies that support Israel and its war on Gaza.

Just ahead, we'll take a closer look at the suffering that's sparking these protests with a special report on the children who are caught in the

crossfire in Gaza.

But first, I'm joined by Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator, welcome back to the program. You have been very vocal for a long time on the war, on

American policy, and now on these protests and the crackdown. But first, I want to ask you, do you believe President Biden got it just right or what

would you say in his first comments about these protests?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, he's exactly right is that we don't want protests that are violent and we absolutely will not tolerate antisemitism,

Islamophobia, homophobia, or any form of bigotry, of course, he's right on that.

But I think, Christiane, it is important to understand that why these protesters are out there, and they are out there not because they are pro-

Hamas, they are out there because they are outraged by what the Israeli government is now doing in Gaza, which is bringing unbelievable, not just

to the terrorist organization of Hamas, but to the entire Palestinian people.

And that's why these antiwar demonstrators are out there. They do not want to see a situation continue, where 110,000 Palestinians out of, you know, 5

percent of the population have been killed or wounded. Where children now face starvation, hundreds of thousands of children face starvation because

Israel is refusing to allow you humanitarian aid to get to where it has to go.


Where two-thirds of the homes in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged, where the entire civilian infrastructure, water, electricity has been

annihilated, where educational systems, every university in Gaza has been bombed. So, I think it's important to understand why these young people are

out there, and they are out there for the right reasons, to protest U.S. continued military aid and money to a right-wing extremist Netanyahu

government, which is in a destructive war against the Palestinian people.

AMANPOUR: Senator, the last time we had you on the program was a few weeks ago when there was an effort, maybe it was successful, I don't remember, to

try to tie American military aid to certain respecting of international humanitarian law, the rules of war, et cetera.

In the interim, the United States has passed a law which provides more military aid to Israel along with Ukraine and et cetera. And you have -- I

remember you telling me not one penny of our money should they get, the Israelis, until they agree to the rules of the game. What happened?

SANDERS: Well, what happened is, number one, I was unable to even offer an amendment to the effect that the United States should not provide more

money for offensive weapons to Israel. Couldn't even get that amendment on the floor. And number two, by a very strong vote, Republicans and Democrats

are voted to continue funding Netanyahu's war machine.

And what is ironic to me, you know, we talk about protesters at Columbia or UCLA. Understand, it's not just protesters. A strong majority of the

American people do not want to see more U.S. taxpayer dollars going to Netanyahu's destruction of the Palestinian people. We all understand Hamas

is a terrorist organization that started the war, in my view, Israel has the right to go to war against Hamas. They do not have a right to go to war

in the way they are against the Palestinian people. And most Americans now feel the same way.

AMANPOUR: Do you feel, Senator, that -- and we talked last time about leverage. Obviously, America has massive leverage because of its very

strong, full throated, shoulder to shoulder, all those words, alliance with Israel and all the billions of dollars that it sends. But do you think the

students are reacting to the fact that their government does not seem to be using any leverage?

SANDERS: Yes, of course they are. Look, it is one thing if a terrible tragedy or a terrible war takes place in some part of the world where the

United States really has no involvement. That is not the case in Gaza. The United States of America has historically and is right now, the legislation

that you talked about, we're talking about over $19 billion more going to Israel, including $10 billion of unfettered military aid.

So, of course, the United States government has the right to say to Netanyahu, guess what, you're not getting another nickel unless you let

humanitarian aid go in, unless you stop the imminent famine which we are seeing, unless we move toward a two-state solution. When you are paying the

bills, you call the tunes. Has the United States government done that? No, it has not. And I think students and the American people understand that

that is very wrong.

AMANPOUR: As you know very well, Prime Minister Netanyahu is a master of the political game, seizing whatever political moment he can. And he, in

English, directly addressed the American students on campuses and described, in his view, what these protests were. I'm going to play that

for a moment so you can listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: What's happening on America's college campuses is horrific. Antisemitic mobs have taken over leading

universities. They call for the annihilation of Israel. They attack Jewish students. They attack Jewish faculty. This is reminiscent of what happened

in German universities in the 1930s.


AMANPOUR: Senator, you've probably seen some others say the same thing, even in the media, you know, hearkening back to the 1930s Europe. I wonder

whether you think that's an accurate description of what is happening on American campuses.

SANDERS: Well, I think, look, I am Jewish. My family was slaughtered by Hitler. I am very sensitive to antisemitism, as I hope all Americans are,

and we've got to make sure that there is no antisemitism, not only on college campuses, but all over this country.


But what Netanyahu is doing, and you're right, he is a very crafty politician. If the whole world, Christiane, is condemning your war

policies, which have now killed or injured 5 percent of the people in Palestine, have destroyed the infrastructure, the whole world will say,

what are you doing? What he has done is deflect attention and the American media, by and large, has fallen for it to say any protest against Israel,

it's antisemitic.

If you're talking about how the two-thirds of the people who have been killed or injured are women and children, not Hamas participants, women and

children, that's antisemitic. If you're talking about 70 percent of the housing damaged in Israel, that's antisemitic. If you're talking about how

the United Nations and humanitarian organizations are worried about famine, children right now, today in Gaza are dying of malnutrition, if you talk

about that, you are antisemitic. Well, I think the American people are not going to fall for that.

Netanyahu is insulting the intelligence of the American people. He has got to be held accountable for the actions of his right-wing extremists, and by

the way, racist government and charging or claiming that everybody was critical of him is antisemitic is really quite disgraceful.

AMANPOUR: So, Senator, why do you think the university administrators called in the police?

SANDERS: Well, I'll let the university administrators answer that. I would simply say some schools, I think Brown University coming to mind and

others, have done the right thing. They've respected the rights of students to protest, to demonstrate, and they are coming up with reasonable


AMANPOUR: I -- you gave a speech on the Senate floor last night and I posted it and it was essentially a really important lesson on history, on

protest and the antisemitism that you've just been talking about, what constitutes it and what doesn't. Tell me, in your view, where does the --

where do these protests fit in the history of American student protests?

SANDERS: Look, I must tell you that as a young man I was involved in civil rights demonstration, I was arrested in taking over the administration

office at the University of Chicago because there was racism and segregation going on at that time.

The truth of the matter is, if there had not been protests and sit-ins and demonstrations, we would not have made the progress we have made in this

country in combating racism and ending the apartheid form of government that existed in many parts of the country. If there had not been millions

of people, mostly women, coming out into the streets, and saying that they are sick and tired of being second class citizens, they want a right to

control their own bodies, we would not have made progress in the struggle for women's rights. If we had not had demonstrations saying that we've got

to end homophobia in America and we've not made -- would not have made the progress we have made.

Demonstrations is what -- and the right to dissent, the right to protest, that is what the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States

is all about. That's what, in fact, makes you a free country. Being a free country means that somebody goes out and demonstrates, you don't have to

agree with them, they have the right. That's the difference between autocracy and dictatorship and a free country.

AMANPOUR: I want to play for you -- because this definition, where does the line get crossed between antisemitism and criticizing a government

policy? On this program last night our colleagues at PBS talked to Kenneth Stern. He was the person who led the drafting of the bill that would codify

this definition for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is the definition that stands to this day, and this is what he said.


KENNETH STERN, DIRECTOR, BARD CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE: I jealously guarded the term antisemitism. To have a sting, it has to be used only in

the clearest cases. So, I'd always default to not. Now, there's a push to make it almost ubiquitous. And when everything becomes antisemitic, nothing

is antisemitic and that makes it harder to fight antisemitism.


AMANPOUR: I wonder what you think of that, given the fact that it's been really politicized and all sorts of bills and new laws and things are

passing through Congress and the Republicans are using it a lot.

SANDERS: Well, all I would say is antisemitism is a vile and disgusting ideology, which as everybody knows in the last hundred years alone, has led

to the deaths of many, many, many millions of people. We've got to fight antisemitism in every way that we can.


But for anybody to suggest that we cannot be critical of the government of Israel, or the government of Italy, or the government of Ireland, you know

for whatever reason, is not what democracy is about.

So, I happen to believe, not everybody agrees with me, that the war policies of the Netanyahu government are a disaster. They are causing

unprecedented harm. They are in violation of international law, and absolutely in violation of American law, by the way.

But I think people who are critical -- the idea that people who are critical of what Netanyahu is doing are antisemitic that is nonsense and

that is a very, very dangerous line to cross in terms of freedom of expression in this country.

AMANPOUR: And for our generation who grew up in the era of never again and are very, very committed to that, I think it's really tough when we see

this word weaponized and maybe lose its sting. And it's important, as Kenneth Stern warns.

So, I want to ask you, my question to you is, what do you think now is going to happen to Biden and his campaign? Where do you think all of this

is going to lead? Because it's also about American foreign policy.

SANDERS: Well, in terms of his campaign, you know, I am thinking back and other people are making this reference, that this may be Biden's Vietnam.

Lyndon Johnson, in many respects, was a very, very good president, domestically brought forth some major pieces of legislation. He chose not

to run in '68 because of opposition to his views on Vietnam.

And I worry very much that President Biden is putting himself in a position where he has alienated not just young people, but a lot of the Democratic

base in terms of his views on Israel and this war. So, I would hope very much that from certainly a policy point of view, from a moral point of view

the president stops giving a blank check to Netanyahu. And I would hope that they understand that from a political point of view this has not been

helpful, quite the contrary.

AMANPOUR: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you for joining us.

And now, a reminder, as we said, of what is at the heart of these protests, the suffering and the killing of Gazans in this devastating war. The IDF is

continuing its airstrikes on targets in the enclave. 13,000 children have died since the war began, and Palestinian officials say two more, a four-

year-old boy and his sister, were killed at this refugee camp, the Al- Shaboura camp, late Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, Correspondent Jeremy Diamond reported about a strike on a different refugee camp that killed at least 10 children. The Israeli

military still hasn't taken responsibility for the attack. And now, Jeremy has this update. And a reminder that some of what we'll see is indeed



JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This grainy home video is the closest Mona Awda Talla will ever get to seeing her 10-year-old

daughter. A stack of school certificates, a wardrobe of her favorite clothes, the perfume she used to wear, all that remains of the daughter

Mona poured everything into.

There is no Shahed now. Every time she came in, she said mom. I would say my soul, my soul, my soul is gone.

Shahed was one of 10 children killed when an Israeli airstrike hit the crowded street in the Al Maghazi Refugee Camp where she was playing with

her friends. Her pink pants impossible to miss among the small bodies splayed around a foosball table in the chaotic aftermath. Two weeks later,

the Israeli military still won't take responsibility for the strike that killed her.

CNN provided the IDF with the coordinates and time of the attack based on metadata from two different phones in the immediate aftermath. The IDF said

they did not have a record of that strike. They said they carried out a strike at a different time than described and that the collateral damage as

described in the query is not known to the IDF. The IDF makes great efforts to mitigate harm to the civilian population from areas where strikes are

being carried out.

Evidence recovered and documented by CNN at the scene of the strike paints a very different picture of Israeli military responsibility. This circuit

board and bits of shrapnel, walls and shop steps distinctively pockmarked, and a small crater barely a foot wide, all pointing three munitions experts

to the same conclusion, the carnage was likely caused by a precision-guided munitions deployed by the Israeli military.


CHRIS COBB-SMITH, WEAPONS EXPERT: I have seen these strikes so many times. There's a relatively small crater in the road. There's no large shrapnel

holes or fragmentation holes, which would have been caused by, say, a mortar round or an artillery round. The fragmentation is consistent.

DIAMOND: So, in your view, this strike was caused by a precision-guided, drone-fired missile?

COBB-SMITH: Absolutely. This is an Israeli ammunition. The local militias, the local forces do not have anything with this amount of sophistication.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Before carrying out the strike, Israeli drones would have surveilled the Al Maghazi Refugee Camp from above. Seconds later, the

missile hits the street below, landing in the middle of the road, just a few feet away from the foosball table were Shahed and her friends were

playing that day, delivering certain death.

Against all odds, these children have returned to play at the very same foosball table, including some of Shahed's friends.

I miss her a lot, Sama says, wearing a necklace Shahed made her. She says she was nearly killed with her friends, going home moments before the

strike to drink water.

Others were not as lucky. Eight-year-old Ahmed is fighting for his life, bleeding from his brain, his skull fractured. His chances of surviving are

slim, his doctor explains. He is fighting not to become the 11th child killed in that same strike.


AMANPOUR: But we regret to report that Ahmed has died of his wounds this morning. He was eight years old and he is the 11th child killed in that one

Israeli strike.

Almost 14,000 children have been killed in this war since October 7th, when Hamas stormed Israel, killed 1,700 or so Israelis, and took so many

hostages, so many of whom are still held in Gaza, and still there is no ceasefire and no answer to the Israeli family's demand that their

government brings those hostages back.

Now, the protest movement in the United States sweeping through campuses is just weeks before graduation. This year's college seniors are mostly the

same group whose high school graduation was disrupted by the COVID pandemic. Wall Street Journal higher education reporter Douglas Belkin

talks to Hari Sreenivasan about the unique circumstances facing these students.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Douglas Belkin, thanks so much for joining us. You wrote an article

recently. I want to read the title here, "They Entered College in Isolation and Leave Among Protests. The Class That Missed Out on Fun." Tell me what

is it that characterizes these students? Because it seems like this is another sort of ripple effect of the pandemic that we are all collectively


DOUGLAS BELKIN, HIGHER EDUCATION REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, I think that's right. Their experience was just more isolated than their

predecessors have been. They've been less social, they've been in their dorm rooms more, in the gym less, in the cafeteria less, on the quad less,

in class, in-person less, they're studying with their friends less, they're not joining clubs to the same degrees. They're just not as engaged with one

another as students on college campuses were before the pandemic.

SREENIVASAN: Tell me who are these students demographically? What have they experienced over these past four years?

BELKIN: So, the kids who are graduating now, if they went through in four years were seniors when the pandemic landed, and a lot of them did not have

graduation ceremonies at their high school. They spent their summer isolated. They didn't have freshman orientation in person, and they began

college, a lot of them either online or in their dorm rooms, isolated from one another because of fear of COVID, they were told, when they walked

around campus to stay six feet apart from one another and to, you know, constantly wear masks. So, these kids are really endured the brunt of COVID

with regard to isolation.

SREENIVASAN: You know, we can understand that there were effects on campuses over that first year and a half, two years when these students

were isolated there. But what are the kind of longer effects that have happened to what you and I think of as old men, what college was like when

we went?

BELKIN: Well, for these kids, there's a lot of interesting data that's sort of being surfaced now looking at their behavior. So, there are

companies that tracks, they don't like that word, but they track students using their cell phone to get a sense of how the campuses are used. And

they've been doing it for a number of years. And if you compare the movements, the students had on campus prior to the pandemic to today, they

just don't move as much and they don't go to the same places and not around each other as much.


So, that's, I think, the most significant issue. The other one is, I mean, we'll get to this a bit later, but the mental health issues and the surveys

that are designating, you know, trying to ascertain how they feel and their levels of anxiety is significantly raised, this has been happening for a

while, but it did amplify, in some cases, over the pandemic.

SREENIVASAN: Tell me a little bit about the mental health status. I mean, where are we getting the information, which student cohorts, if any, are

affected most or least?

BELKIN: Yes. So, mental health on college campuses is tracked very closely. It matters a lot for some practical reasons and some less

practical reasons. I mean, the one thing if students are depressed, so they're not engaged in college, it's just less likely to graduate.

So, engagement matters a lot. Mental health matters a lot. If kids are depressed, they're not going to go to class and they're not going to

finish. And this, of course, impacts the bottom lines of the universities. So, that's in their interest to make sure that they are taking care of the

kids who are there.

And around 2012, we saw a decline in mental health and a raise in anxiety and then depression around the times that the cell phones, pocket cell

phones became ubiquitous. That trend continued into the pandemic. But the reliance on technology during the pandemic seems to really have stuck. And

so, the kids are more inclined to want to be on their phones, on their computer screens now than they were before.

So, you know, you may have an option of taking a class online, in your dorm room, or go to the class. And a lot of kids are opting to just sit in their

dorm room to take the class. What that means is they're just more isolated and they're avoiding anxiety that comes from social interactions that a lot

of them fear.

SREENIVASAN: Now, is that measured in some way on an annual basis? I mean, you know, are there universities that kind of take surveys as freshmen come

in about what their feelings were before they got to college or their annual surveys that measure specific kinds of, you know, outlooks that

these young people have on life?

BELKIN: Yes. So, there's a lot of surveys and a lot of instruments national that try to measure this stuff. There's one called the Healthy

Minds Survey that we looked at out of Michigan. There's a number of universities that are connected to it, but Michigan is one. And what that

survey found was that anxiety is up, social anxiety is up. Kids who believe they've been traumatized doubled from 5 percent to 10 percent over the

course of the pandemic.

The level of self-harm, the level of kids who have tried to commit suicide, it's up a little bit. The level of kids with suicidal ideation is now one

in seven of kids who've thought about suicide over the past year. So, the numbers are sober.

SREENIVASAN: That's -- those are intense numbers. I mean, so what are universities doing about this, if they know that the freshman coming into

their college are already more anxious and they're telling the universities that their levels of self-harm and suicidal ideation are up, what can a

university do? What is a university doing?

BELKIN: So, they're really attacking this issue because it's so important. You know, most professors now have had mental health first aid training so

that they can recognize if students are depressed, if there's -- if they're fearful for them. There's something called the Red Folder that professors

pass around that sort of keeps tabs on students and the ones that they believe are struggling. You know, it gives them options about how to talk

to them and treat them.

So, professors are sort of the first line, that wasn't happening a few years ago. That's one big thing. There are care teams that try to identify

students who are struggling. I think we spoke to folks at Tulane that they have failure tales. Kids are anxious about failing. And so, they go into

community and they tell stories about things that they blew. And the idea is to sort of take the pressure off of each other so that they come to the

sense that it's, you know, it's OK to screw things up. That's part of growing up. Part of life. They're encouraging kids to join different


What's fascinating about it is that there's, I think, a sense that the return to normal is beyond the cajoling of the administrators and their

professors, the kids sort of have to find their own footing and no one's really sure, you know, where that new level set will be.

SREENIVASAN: You know, you managed to find a resident assistant at the University of Puget Sound, something that I was several years ago. And what

was stunning about this anecdote is they're talking about trying to lure young people out of their dorm rooms.


I mean -- I, you know, when college started for me, it was the absolute antithesis of that. I mean, it was for the first time for most students

living away from home, right? The doors kept swinging open and close. You'd be going in and out of everybody else's rooms. What's happening to that

kind of social interaction and mingling that for so many generations before college was so crucial for?

BELKIN: Yes. So, there's a cycle that's picking up speed and that's sort of at the center of it, right? So, if you spent your senior year of high

school -- part of your senior year of high school and your freshman year of college, and maybe even part of your sophomore year of college in your dorm

room taking classes online and being told to isolate, and the skills that you should have developed and that you developed as a young man to interact

with your peers are a little bit retarded. They didn't necessarily take root.

And so, when it's time to connect with other people, there's an anxiety attached to that now. And so, one way to avoid that anxiety is just to not

deal with it. Sit in your room, take the class online where you're comfortable, where you can control your space. You can sit in your

sweatpants. You don't have to worry about being called in by a professor.

If you do go to class, the professors are saying that, generally speaking, kids aren't as prepared and they're less likely to raise their hand into

debate. They're unnerved about being a part of the discussion and being called out. There's other issues, I think, of, you know, step (ph) is

saying the wrong thing. It's also, this has been around for a month prior to the pandemic. But these are all issues that are sort of aggregating and

forcing some kids to retreat.

SREENIVASAN: Does that climate post-pandemic contributed to the situation on certain college campuses today where, right now, there are protests that

are going on, some of the colleges have decided to postpone or cancel their graduations, but the acrimony between students and what I see is a lot of

students disengaging from, well, important conversations that, you know, in my opinion, say, well, you're going to learn from somebody else if you're

able to talk to them about it? But according to your article, maybe some kids are not.

BELKIN: Yes, there's a lot of things happening with those protests and it's been fascinating to interview kids who are part of them and ask why

they're there and what they know. And I think you put your finger on a real significant issue, people aren't talking to each other. And I think there's

always been some of that when you have an emotional issue you care about. But there's not a conversation happening.

I think there's also an attraction for some students to join these protests because, you know, they can stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder and

get a sense of community that they really haven't had since they've been in college, and then that feels good. It feels good to connect with one

another, to be kind of -- it's almost everybody's saying the same thing and believing the same thing, so you're -- it's almost a low stakes situation

if you follow the script. Not to demean what these kids are doing or believing in, but there's a sense, I think, of community that's really


On the flip side, it's a really polarizing issue. So, you've got students that haven't made the connections on campus that, you know, normally they

would have over time and they're angering one another and they're losing friends because they've posted a meme or a message that the other side

doesn't agree with. So, we spoke to a number of kids who say they are just alienated from friends. This is, I think, particularly sharp among a lot of

the Jewish students on campus.

SREENIVASAN: Are there things that you're looking for as we watch this wave of college protests play out across the country in terms of, you know,

what the long-term impacts could be on students or perhaps even how colleges are responding to these protests?

BELKIN: There's this tension between the right to free speech and the Title VI rule that says you're entitled to an education free of harassment.

The universities has to try to keep students safe, but how they do that is really not been adjudicated. And so, the courts haven't waited, which means

that we're in this legal no man's land when the university president tries to figure out how to handle protests. That's probably going to change.

You know, some of the Office of Civil Rights cases that they're hearing now are probably going to be challenged when they come out. They'll go to

court. And some judge somewhere is going to say, this is what you have to do when a protest happens, or there's some -- there's going to be more

guidance. So, I think that going forward it will be a little bit less latitude for universities to determine how to respond.

SREENIVASAN: Yes, you know, you had a quote in there, the pandemic bruised the psyche of a generation, the politics seared it. Explain how, you know,

today's political climate is shaping this generation.


BELKIN: You know, when you speak to a kid who's 21 years old now, they'll recite a litany of the things that they were born into, right? I mean, so

they came along not long after 9/11. They dealt with the Great Recession. They were around for the school shootings, that's been part of their norm.

The Trump presidency polarized the country. And obviously, you know, we were heading that direction before. The pandemic was massive.

So, they came into college feeling, I think, on their back foot. This is -- by and large, they're a little bit less risk taking than prior generations

have been because they've seen the downside of things that can go wrong. They've seen chaos.

Every generation has their own cross to bear. You know, you speak to people who are in college during Vietnam, and they sort of scoff at the notion

that these kids had it rough, but from the perspective of the students on campus, they feel like they've had a pretty rough first couple of decades.

SREENIVASAN: You also have written beyond the higher education system kind of what happens to the rest of society as these waves of classes come into

the workforce. What are the challenges that employers see from the generations, I guess, really mid pandemic onward that have come into the

workforce, these are not just trends from the pandemic, but they might have been accelerated as you point out?

BELKIN: Yes, the employers are seeing a decline in the capacity and the competency of kids coming out of college. And we're just beginning to see

this now. You know, there's a lot of data coming out of high schools and elementary schools about learning loss that happened. But when in college,

what we're seeing are kids who are graduating and passing licensing exams, like nursing or engineering at lower rates. They don't have the same

capacity. But once you do pass are often at lower scores.

The social -- the rightness of students is declined, right? And you see a lot of kids who don't make eye contact when they're in a -- you know, a

retail spot, working a job like that. So, there's a lot of concern that this generation that knows less and is less inclined to ask, to learn. And

of course, you know, the whole issue with sort of being stuck on their phone and not communicating and connecting with people has been of concern

for a decade.

SREENIVASAN: Is there any indication that you have from the conversations you've had from the conversations you've had that the college experience

will return to what we might have gone through? I mean, not that everything that we went through is all roses, but that we would possibly see greater

face-to-face interaction again and, you know, avoid some of the things that this generation over the last two or three years have dealt with on


BELKIN: The college for all model is certainly fraying, and there's also a demographic cliff, that means that fewer kids are graduating high school

and so, there are fewer of them to go to college. So, there's this wave of schools that are consolidating and closing that's beginning to shape up.

The schools that survive, I don't see why they wouldn't respond and become places of community and where kids will re-engage. Human beings are awfully

strong and, you know, in figuring out a way forward. The kids who were in school during the pandemic, some will recover and some won't. We've looked

at studies about lifetime learning loss for kids who were in school during things like natural disaster.

In Argentina, for instance, there was massive teacher strikes for years that kept kids out of school. In Pakistan, there were tremendous

earthquakes that destroyed whole villages. And when you compare the children who were around those natural disasters and didn't go to school

for a year or two, they didn't catch up. What happened is they got discouraged. They didn't take the next step in school. Their lifetime

earnings declined.

There's one professor researcher at Stanford who suggests lifetime learning loss is probably around $70,000. So, how that plays out, you know, people

are looking at it, but it's future tense right now.

SREENIVASAN: Douglas Belkin, higher education reporter for the Wall Street Journal, thanks so much for joining us.

BELKIN: Thanks very much for inviting me.


AMANPOUR: And next to India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is vying for a third term in the world's largest democracy. Under his leadership,

the country's been offloading traces of its colonial past, from the controversial revamp of India's parliament building to renaming islands.

Our next guest has spent the last decade examining the legacy of the British Empire. In his new book, "Empireworld," journalist and bestselling

author, Sathnam Sanghera, unpacks the lasting impact of imperialism around the globe and he joined me on set to share these experiences.


Sathnam Sanghera, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: This is your second book on Empire, "Empireworld." Basically, the effect of the British Empire on the rest of the world. And you start --

or at least you've said in talking about it, that this is not to blame, it's not to deny, it's not to, you know, try to sort of gloss over this

very complex, complicated, and enduring legacy of colonialism, for better and for worse.

How difficult -- what was your mission?

SANGHERA: Yes, I guess so many books in the British Empire and the legacies either focus on the positives or the negatives, and I just don't

think that makes sense. Because if you actually spend four or five years looking at the legacies that I do, what you discover is that the legacies

are contradictory.

So, the British Empire resulted in a certain amount of democracy in places like Australia. It also resulted in a huge amount of geopolitical chaos,

which takes up your time in places like Nigeria, Sudan, and Palestine. It resulted in a huge amount of environmental destruction. We destroyed 60

percent of New Zealand's forests, for example, but it also led to the birth of modern-day environmentalism. It resulted in the rule of law in certain

places, but also resulted in a huge amount of homophobic legislation in other parts of the world.

So, I think it makes no sense to say overall it was good or bad. I think all you can really say is that it was deeply contradictory and we should

try to understand it rather than put a simplistic conclusion.

AMANPOUR: Do you know what, it's really interesting that you laid out all these points, good and bad, because what you don't do, just now, is talk

about slavery, which a lot of people who examine empire fixate on right now. So, whether it's slavery in the Caribbean, whether it's indentured

servitude in India and in other places, it's all pretty much one and the same. Tell me about why you went to Barbados and how that made you want to

write this book.

SANGHERA: I went to Barbados to escape the empire because I had enough of thinking about it.

AMANPOUR: The previous book?

SANGHERA: The previous book, yes. But my girlfriend booked it and not realizing that actually Barbados was a distinct phase of the British

Empire. It made people in Britain hugely rich, certain people. One of the richest MPs in our parliament is Richard Drax, whose wealth, 150 million

pounds of it, arguably largely comes from the exploitation of the enslaved in Barbados then.

And for me, it was a really interesting time to go there because a couple of weeks later, Prince William and Princess Kate went to the Caribbean and

had a disastrous tour. And there was nothing about that tour that was any different to any other tour. It was normal. Except suddenly, everyone

noticed that the imagery was wrong. You shouldn't be standing on the back of a Land Rover waving back to people when that country is complaining

about the legacies of slavery. You shouldn't be touching children through a wide fence when you've left a legacy of inequality when it comes to race,

health, and education.

So, suddenly, even the right-wing press, even the monarchist press realized that this was unacceptable. And that kind of raw tour, well, never happen


AMANPOUR: Barbados, of course, has declared its independence, and there's talk that Jamaica might go the same way. But what -- you went on a guided

tour, you went on a tour with various other tourists in Barbados, and you saw something that really shocked you.

SANGHERA: Yes, I mean, I've been around former slave plantations in the deep south, in America, and been around national trust homes in Britain.

You kind of expect the difficult history to be elided, but it was a really shocking that in three plantation houses slavery was barely mentioned. And

I talked to one of the guys and he said it was because the British tourists going there didn't want to hear about it. They were told not to mention it

because they wanted to just go on to the buffet, basically.

And I think what he highlighted is there's a gap between the way in which the world wants to talk about the legacies of the British Empire and the

British people and the British State who really doesn't want to talk about it.

AMANPOUR: One of the -- you give a lot of examples, you started off at the beginning, but I was fascinated because I too have visited Kew Gardens,

these beautiful gardens here just outside of London, which is phenomenal. And you talk about that also as containing fantastic examples of

colonialism. Describe that.

SANGHERA: Yes, I never really thought of plants as an extension of colonialism. For me, they're interior design. But plants were at the

forefront of colonialism. I mean, think of something like tea. Tea led to the opium wars in China, when we didn't want to pay the Chinese with silver

anymore. So, we started selling them hard drugs instead. It arguably was involved in the Boston Tea Party. The tea that ended up at the bottom of

the Boston Harbor was East India Company tea.

It led to the transportation of millions of laborers around the world, who were then exploited to produce the tea. So that was an important part of

colonialism. But then there's also rubber. Hugely profitable crop for the British. Led to the 1948 Malayan emergency, one of the darkest episodes in

the history of the British Empire.


And then we've got cinchona, which is the bark that produces quinine, which enabled westerners to colonize West Africa, because before then, they were

dropping dead of malaria. So, there's three plants which changed the shape of the world.

AMANPOUR: Which are on view for anybody to go and see at Kew Garden.

SANGHERA: Yes. And also, a lot of our garden plants today like rhododendrons and azaleas come from the empire.

AMANPOUR: But interestingly, your book opens, there's -- this is the opening line, there's nowhere on earth that crackles with the atmosphere of

the British Empire like New Delhi.


AMANPOUR: What do you mean?

SANGHERA: New Delhi was built by the British. You know, it was meant to be a new capital. They did this in several colonies. But at the same time,

there's an official campaign of decolonization happening in India at the moment. I don't think British people are aware of that.

So, you know, they're building a new parliament for $1.8 billion because they no longer want to do their democracy in a building built by the

British. They want to teach medical degrees in non-English languages. They're renaming islands after Indian heroes. But it can only ever be

tokenistic because I don't see Modi getting rid of cricket. I don't see them driving on a different side of the road. So, ultimately,

decolonization, I think, can only be tokenistic.

AMANPOUR: You actually wrote something actually kind of funny. You basically said, trying to cleanse India of the imperial influence would be,

as you put it, like getting the ghee out of my beloved breakfast masala omelet.

SANGHERA: Yes, or trying to take the egg out of a baked cake. It's baked into our world. If you want to decolonize the world, you'd have to get rid

of Nigeria, tea drinking, patterns of tax avoidance. You cannot ultimately decolonize the world.

AMANPOUR: Let's just talk about India though, because obviously we're in the midst of a six-week election campaign. It'll be ending early June. Do

you think Modi is a result of decades of colonization and imperialism or is his Hindu nationalism just sui generis? Is it -- or what?

SANGHERA: He's weaponized decolonization very well. So, he talks about 1,200 years of the slave mentality, that includes the British Empire, but

it also includes the Mughal Empire. So, in that, you've got the seeds of his Islamophobia, because he fundamentally sees India as a Hindu nation.

AMANPOUR: Does he hate the Taj Mahal?

SANGHERA: Exactly. I think --

AMANPOUR: I mean, that's a Mughal masterpiece.

SANGHERA: He'd probably find a way of saying it was a Hindu monument in some way. It's absurd. It's also weird because the opposition, the Congress

Party, is the party of decolonization. It was involved in independence. It gave us Gandhi and the first prime minister of India, Nehru. And it shows

you how hopeless Congress are, that they're losing this decolonization argument.

AMANPOUR: Or losing something, because they have been in the wilderness, and it's now a third term that Modi's going for, and he's likely to win.

But again, how do you account for that? Is it the exhaustion of one party? Like here, you're seeing the Tories far below Labour after 14 years in

office. Is it an exhaustion of ideas or is it more dramatic in trying to sort of, you know, turn this India, which was the world's most populous

democracy, into something a lot more autocratic?

SANGHERA: I think he's had a lot of success in portraying himself as an authentic Indian. So, he'll look at the Congress leaders and say, actually,

you guys are colonizers, because you are educated in the West. Most Congress leaders and prime ministers were Oxbridge educated, whereas he

wasn't. So, I think he's done well at that. And also --

AMANPOUR: And he's shown, he often says, you know, if somebody like me, you know, the son of a -- I think a lower caste family can rise to be prime

minister, then anybody in India can. He makes himself aspirational.

SANGHERA: So, yes, I think he's also managed to take on the fragmentation of Indian politics and get a bunch of disparate people to believe in Hindu


AMANPOUR: He's very, very popular with the big powers right now because the United States, for instance, would like to see India as their ally, you

know, in the competition with China. They'd like to peel India away from China. Hope India doesn't be too dependent. Although, it's taking its oil

from Russia.

And there are a lot of human rights abuses. Obviously, his persecution of religious minorities, the Muslims, obviously cracked down on the press,

opposition, all of that The West is kind of practically turning a blind eye to it. What influence and what legacy will that have on such a massive


SANGHERA: It's huge because, I mean, India is fundamentally, when it was born, a secular nation. We saw what happened when it became religious based

with partition, up to 2 million people died, 15 million people were displaced. That's what can happen when you turn that part of the world into

a matter of religion, and it's very worrying what he's doing in India, I think, as a Sikh person, as a -- someone who comes from a minority family.


AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk about that because, obviously, there's been a huge amount of worry and fear amongst the Sikh population. The

assassination of a Sikh individual leader in Canada, obviously, the government says it had nothing to do with it, but there are investigations

underway. Do you feel that your community is under threat?

SANGHERA: I think we do. And we're such a small community in Britain, but we're also a tiny community in India as well. Although, we're very visible

because of our turbans. And yes, it is. I think if you are a member of a community like mine, you automatically identify with minority groups.

AMANPOUR: We've talked a little bit about this, about his cult of personality, but do you think that's where this country is headed under him

or is there another exit strategy?

SANGHERA: When I went to India for "Empireworld," I was shocked at the cult of personality, his picture is everywhere. And also, you meet the

lowest of the low person, like homeless people who were coming up to me, saw that I was a foreigner and they wanted to gloat about how much India

had achieved under Modi. Whereas, normally, these people would perhaps have a lot to complain about. So, it feels like his mission has had a lot of


AMANPOUR: What kind of reaction have you had to writing these books? You talked about the first one, which brought you a torrent, you say, of racial

abuse. Why?

SANGHERA: Yes, it's just -- not just me. David Olusoga, the black TV presenter for the BBC, it's a matter of record that he has to have a

bodyguard at live events. Corinne Fowler, historian, who wrote a report on colonialism for the "National Trust" had to get the police involved, became

scared to leave the house. I stopped doing live events because I had so many people shouting at me. I had a certain amount of threats online and

also in letters.

And it's weird because a lot of this abuse is coming from people who say they're proud of the British Empire. And if you're that proud, why are you

so scared of knowledge?

AMANPOUR: And what are they accusing you of?

SANGHERA: Of being unpatriotic, by pointing out that the story might be more complicated, it's quite a strange thing.

AMANPOUR: You must --

SANGHERA: I think it stems from our fundamental misunderstanding of what history is, this idea that history is a fixed thing. I think a lot of

people leave school thinking, oh, it's just facts. Rishi Sunak seems to think that. He recently said that we shouldn't unpick history when that's

precisely what historians do, they unpick history.

Our understanding of the Stone Age is changing all the time. Our understanding of Roman times is changing because we discover new things.

And our understanding of British imperialism is changing radically because it's only relatively recently that we've been discovering a new narrative

from the point of view of the colonized.

So, compared to the centuries of colonialism, no wonder there's a radical change and no wonder people are being triggered, I guess.

AMANPOUR: And just last question. You know, we talked about India, we talked about Barbados, but you traveled a lot for this. Do you have

another, you know, sort of anecdote or piece of historical fact that you discovered that surprised you?

SANGHERA: One of my favorite facts is that, you know, ganja, something -- a phenomenon associated with Jamaica.

AMANPOUR: Ganja, the weed?

SANGHERA: The weed, yes, is actually not a Jamaican plant. It's an Indian plant. When you think about it, it's an Indian word, isn't it? It's a very

Indian word. It was introduced by Indian indentured laborers to Jamaica. And now, it's associated with Jamaica. And it just goes to show you all the

complicated ways in which the British Empire changed the planet, because the British Empire sent a million Indians around the world. And one of the

main reasons you see Indians wherever you go is because of the British Empire.

AMANPOUR: So, it once was said, when Queen Victoria was around, that the sun never set on the British Empire. Everywhere, every hour, every time

zone, there was the British Empire in some form or fashion. You know, America was the 20th century version of Empire, although it didn't call

itself that.

Do -- what do you think has the most long-lasting effect and baked in the deepest? Do you think it is the British Empire all over the world or

Americanism and the values, which are very different from British Empire values that America sent around the world?

SANGHERA: I think imperialism in general has a powerful hold on the world now. Look at what's happening with Russia and Ukraine. That is imperial

nostalgia. Look at what China's doing in Africa, buying up loads of influence there. That's pretty much what the British Empire did.

So, I feel like even though British Empire is over, it's psychological influence upon the world remains powerful.

AMANPOUR: Sathnam Sanghera, thank you so much.

SANGHERA: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, hot air balloons and henna. These are some of the unique ways Indians are working to get out the vote.

In the South, India's election committee took to the sky to capture attention and remind citizens where and how to cast their ballots. And in

Western Bhujrakh (ph), young girls wrote slogans on each other's hands celebrating the power of voting. It's all a drive to boost voter turnout,

which has fallen a bit due to scorching heat and the wedding season.


And it's said, of course, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's success and chances for an unprecedented third term, like so many politicians, depends

on a high turnout. So, you can see why they're trying to get out the vote.

That's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. Remember, you can always

catch us online, on our website, and all-over social media.

Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.