Media Educator’s Conferene in Jaipur: A Report

Dr. Jyoti Sidana*

A three-day All India Media Educators’ Conference was opened in Jaipur on April 2, 2015 in the Humanities Hall of Rajasthan University, hosted by the Centre for Mass Communication, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur; Lok Samvad Sanstha, Jaipur; Manipal University, Jaipur and the Society of Media Initiative for Values, Indore. The theme of the conference was ‘Role of Media in Positive Transformation of Society: Challenges and Opportunities’. 

The conference began with the lighting of lamp and ‘Kulgeet’ of followed by floral welcome of the invited dignitaries and address by Prof. Sanjeev Bhanawat, Head, Centre for Mass Communication, University of Rajasthan and Chairman of the Conference.

From left – Sh. Kalyan Singh Kothari, Prof. Sachidanand Joshi, Shri Baldeo Bhai Sharma, Shri N. K. Singh, Sh. Umesh Upadhyay, Prof. B. K. Kuthiala, Prof. Kamal Dixit and Prof. Sanjeev Bhanawat.

Initiating the discussions, Prof. Kamal Dixit, National Convenor, Society of Media Initiative for Values, said that the present day world is in a state of turmoil; there is clash of values and deliberate avoidance of norms. It is one of the important responsibilities of the media to communicate ‘what is right’ or ‘what is wrong’. The special guest, Prof. Sachidanand Joshi, Vice-Chancellor, Kushabhau Thakre University of Journalism and Mass Communication, Raipur, spoke about the role of media in shaping the culture system. He pointed out that the media is capable of synthesising various traditions, which is essential fora positive change in the Indian society. Thus, the job of a media teacher is very important for the society.

Prof. B. K. Kuthiala, Vice-chancellor, Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication, Bhopal, in his inaugural address argued that the media itself is a social movement. In fact, it is a ‘technology- driven social movement’. It reaches the larger section of the society. Technology has given us the ‘freedom of information and expression’. It is a matter of debate whether or not the present day media is contributing significantly to this process of behavioural change.

Shri N. K. Singh, General Secretary, Broadcasters Editors Association of India, New Delhi, and Shri Umesh Upadhyay, President, News Network18, New Delhi, the two guests of honour, in their remarks pointed out that active participation of the media industry is necessary to understand the present social system. What media communicates becomes the point of debate in various fields of study. In fact, the ‘Argumentative Indian’ is a product of contemporary media institutions. Its positive and negative roles need close analysis. A souvenir was released on the occasion by Shri Umesh Upadhyay and other dignitaries followed by the release of a newsletter by Shri N. K. Singh and other dignitaries on the dais.

Shri Baldeo Bhai Sharma, chief guest at the inaugural function, dwelt on the importance of the theme of the conference. He pointed out that the rich cultural traditions of India are not part of the consciousness of the Indian people due to the dominance of ‘colonial knowledge’. As a result, Indians lack a feeling of nationalism and of patriotism. Unfortunately, media is also dominated by the Western mode of thought.

Release of souvenir in the inaugural session

Shri Kalyan Singh Kothari, Secretary, Lok Samvad Sansthan, and organising sectory of the Conference extended the vote of thanks and announced that the deliberationsof the conference will be communicated to all sections of the society so that they are used for conceptualising positive transformation. Ms. Tanu Dang, Assisant Professor, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Urdu, Arabi-Farsi University, Lucknow conducted the proceeding of this session.

The first Plenary Session was devoted to the theme ‘Enhancing Social Concern in Mass Media’. The proceedings were conducted by Dr. Anubhuti Yadav, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Dhenkanal, Odisha and chaired by Prof. Ashok Ogra, Director, Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi. The chairperson opined that the social crises at micro and macro levels are non-observable realities. Corruption, poverty, illiteracy, gender discrimination, rural-urban divide and sectarian attitude shave long been prevalent in the Indian society. The media continuously reacts to these crises. But it has not transformed the public opinion in the desired manner.

Shri N. K. Singh, General Secretary, Broadcasters Editor Association of India, argued that multiple mass media channels have played both types of roles: creation of myths and misconceptions. He referred to several instances to support his argument. He asserted that advocacy of a cause was one of the important roles of the media.

Shri Rahul Sharma, Project Director, Food Fortification Project, IIHMR, New Delhi, raised the issue of food fortification in the context of social marketing. He said that the nutritional value of food, the food habits, the availability of food to the various sections of the society, the stock of food and their need-based distribution are important aspects for the survival of people.

Shri Yaswant Vyas, Group Advisor, Amar Ujala, argued that media intervention is necessary for understanding concerns. All activities have an impact on the people. The media intervention raises their level of consciousness and encourages them to offer suggestions and advice to the authorities concerned. Dr. Vartika Nanda, Asstt. Prof., Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, stated that crimes against women are prominently covered in news columns as well as TV channels. As a result, women issues have initiated debates on gender disparity in the public sphere.

Ms. Suchitra Vardhan, expert from UNICEF, argued that the ‘Right Approach’ has become a dominant idea because of effective media intervention. Child abuse, child labour, forced labour, freedom and liberty for younger generation, role of international organisations for preserving and propagating rights for various sections are now part of awareness because of deep media involvement.

The post-lunch Plenary Session Two on ‘Initiative for Value-Based Media and Society’ was chaired by Prof. Santosh Tiwari, former Dean, Mass Communication Department, Jharkhand Central University, Brambe, Ranchi, and conducted by Mr. Avinash S. Tripathi, Assiatant Professor, Amity School of Mass Communication. Prof. Tiwari stated that without social values of immediate and farsighted nature no society can survive socially. Prof. Mrinal Chatterjee, Head, IIMC, Dhankanal, Odisha, opined that awareness of several trends and tendencies can be attributed to media programmes and education. Peace, non-violence, tolerance and other specific values are now known to people because the media presents them as concrete reality. Shri N.M. Mehra, Vice-president, Visual Technologies, India Pvt. Ltd., highlighted that e-classroom is a mechanism by which exchange of ideas and interaction between teachers and students goes beyond the classroom.

Plenary Session Three on ‘How Traditional Folk Media is Effective Communication Tool to Create Awareness for Positive Change in Society’ was chaired by Dr. P. P. Singh, Head, Department of Journalism, Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication, Bhopal, and conducted by Tanushree Mukherjee, Assistant Professor, Amity School of Communication, Amity University, Rajasthan. Dr. Singh stated that in real sense the folk media is the people’s media. It depicts reality. Folklore, folk music, people’s theatre, village songs etc. constitute folk culture.

Dr. Varsha Joshi, Associate Director, IDS, Jaipur, dedicated the session to Shri Kalyan Singh Kothari for bringing folk artists and media educators on a common platform. She talked about the changing life styles of folk artists and the diversity and variety of folk music being presented in the media. Mr. Kuldeep Kothari, Secretary, Rupayan Sansthan, Jodhpur, talked about the vast variety in the repertoire of the Langa Manganiars folk singing. Even today the folk artists have kept up with their singing and performing traditions. During this session, a group of artists presented a programme of folk music and folk dance.

At the end of this session a Media Quiz was conducted, coordinated by Dr. Uma Shankar Pandey, Kolkata and Mrs. Deepti Kothari, Journalist.

A cultural programme was organised in the evening at Oswal Group of Industries followed by dinner.

On 3rd April 2015, twelve Technical Sessions were conducted at the Manipal University, Jaipur, on social issues like science films, advertising, gender stereotype, classical music and media, social media and developmental democracy, psychological analysis of media, media and human development, media strategy, ICT literacy, media education, RTI and media, sting operation, Indian cinema, gender equality, women empowerment, gender discrimination, age of web media and so on.

These sessions were chaired by Dr. Durgesh Tripathi, Prof. Ujjaval Choudhary, Prof. Mrinal Chatterjee, Dr. Smita Mishra, Prof. Sarbjeet Singh, Dr. Dharmesh Dhawankar, Prof. Deepak Shinde, Dr. R. C. Tripathi, Prof. A. K. Sharma, Prof. Neeta Vadhani. The moderators at these sessions were Dr. B. N. Neelima, Dr. Avani Maniar, Dr. M. S. Sapna, Dr.Shirish Kashikar, Mr. Rakesh Goswami, Dr.Punita Harne, Dr. Ashish Dwivedi, Dr. Namrata Joshi, and Ms. Jayati M. Sharma.

Some of the sessions were combined. The participants discussed or initiated critical debates on different organs of the media – in terms of their structures, organisations and roles.

The ideas discussed at the three-day conference will surely be used by media institutions, policy makers, civil society organisations, and media educators so that the benefits of integrated development reach the poorest of the poor, without which an inclusive society cannot take a concrete shape.

On the last day, that is 4th April 2015, the participants were provided an opportunity to visit Jaipur to acquaint them with the city’s culture and historical heritage.

The post-lunch fourth Plenary Session on ‘Role of Media: Elimination of Gender Based Discrimination’,was chaired by Prof. Sachidanand Joshi, Vice-chancellor, Kushabhau Thakre University of Journalism and Communication, Raipur, and conducted by Dr. Jyoti Sidana. Prof. Joshi stated that gender-based discrimination in India is basically a colonial hangover. Ancient Indian traditions had accorded women a high status. Today there is commodification of women and gender-based discrimination incorporates all forms of violence.

Ms. Shabnam Aziz, Regional Manager, Action Aid, Jaipur, argued that gender discrimination is associated with caste, religion and patriarchy. Media as an institution of modernity can make a frontal attack on issues of discrimination so that in both domestic and public spheres gender equality is accepted.

Dr. B. N. Neelima, Associate Prof., SPMVV University, Tirupati, in her presentation pointed out that gender discrimination in families gets legitimacy because of preference for male child. Media must make intervention in this matter.

Dr. Mohammed Fariyad, Associate Prof. Maulana Azad Urdu University, Hyderabad, talked about atrocities on women in various cultural groups. According to him, gender equality can be achieved only when education reaches all the people.

Ms. Abha Bhiya of Jagori and a renowned feminist stated that Rajasthan is a feudal society in which caste and religion-based discrimination, gender bias and child sex ratio below the national average are a reality. ‘Beti Zindabad’ campaign is socially and culturally needed in the state. She suggested several social campaign strategies in the media so that the importance of girl child may become a part of the family culture.

Shri Vijay Vidrohi addressing the valedictory session and on the dais from left Sh. Sunny Sebestian Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu, Prof. Sandeep Sancheti, Prof. Ujjawal Choudhary, Sh. K. B. Kothari and Prof. Sanjeev Bhanawat

Participants asked many questions about the issues related to different themes discussed at the conference. At the end of the session,an announcement was made about the ‘Beti Zindabad’ Trophy. Priyanka Dey was the winner and Nisha Sharma was the runner of the trophy for an essay competition on Gender Justice. Certificates for the same were given to Tanushree Mukherjee and Smiti Padhi. Papers on ‘Role of Media & Gender Based Discrimination’ were presented by Parul Jain and Shefali Rawat.

The valedictory session was chaired by Shri Sunny Sebastian, Vice-chancellor, Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and Mass Communication, Jaipur. He pointed to the significance of media education today, because of which media study as a subject has been introduced at the senior secondary level. But he added that there is lack of media research even in the age of media revolution. We should study the trends in the media and we should accordingly prepare the syllabus and the curriculum of the universities.

An address was delivered by Shri Kalyan Singh Kothari and Dr. Jyoti Sidana, Research Awardee, Department of Sociology, presented a report on the conference and thanked her team members for preparing the report of different sessions in an academic spirit.

The valedictory address was delivered by Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu, Central Information Commissioner, Government of India, New Delhi, and the session was conducted by Ms. Jayati M. Sharma. Prof. Sridhar stated that media educators are playing a significant role in the present day society. Government offices are trying to ignore the importance of RTI. The media is not reporting the negative aspects of the society. The media should be educated so that it may comprehensively empower the people.

Delegates in Manipal University, Jaipur

Prof. Ujjawal Choudhary, Guest of Honour, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Amity University, Mumbai, argued that there is no need to use the terms communication and journalism separately because both are interrelated. We should ponder why media research is so limited.

Another Guest of Honour, Sh. K. B. Kothari, former Senior Advisor UNICEF, New York, and Managing Trustee, PRATHAM, highlighted the strategies and modes of teaching at lower level or primary education.

Prof. Sandeep Sancheti, Vice-chancellor, Manipal University, Jaipur, another Guest of Honour, asked can media educators or media persons make software to face the kind of challenges which are emerging in the media society. No doubt, the media is doing a good job in creating awareness on various social concerns for positive transformation of the society.

The Chief Guest, Shri Vijay Vidrohi, Executive Editor, ABV News, New Delhi, stated that the new media has become popular amongst all segments of the society. He presented several data relating to users of the new media.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Prof. Sanjeev Bhanawat. The Vice-chancellor, Manipal University, presented a memento as a gesture of appreciation to Prof. Sanjeev Bhanawat and Sh. Kalyan Singh Kothari who made rigorous efforts as chairman and organising secretary of the conference respectively for a successful conference.

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