Centre for Culture, Media & Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (CCMG, henceforth) in collaboration with Academic Staff College, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi conducts and organizes every year the University Grants Commission Refresher Course on Media Studies, Culture and Governance for the in-service faculty across the country. The first such RC was organized in February 2013.
The 2nd Refresher Course 2014 on Media Studies and Governance started today on 14th January and will continue till 4th February, 2014.
The Briefing Session
Vibodh Parthasarathi, Associate Professor, CCMG and Coordinator of the RC, conducted the thematic briefing session. He introduced in the session the concept note and the schedule of the RC that was broadly divided into various themes and sub-themes like media studies- keys and methodology; culture as communication and communication and culture; cultural turn- language and identity; media and governance.
Parthasarathi also discussed the various activities like book review and paper presentation to be done by the participants. Some of the participants made observation on the content and schedule of the RC and pointed out what, according to them, has left out and what to include in the course: some more lectures on the aspects of media governance, social media, corporate media, regionalism and regionalization of media, media beyond Delhi, media education, ideologies on media, etc.
The Inaugural Address
The Inaugural Address was delivered by Professor Yogendra Singh, the eminent sociologist and the leading scholar of Communication. A summary of the same is presented in the coming lines:
This is the age of communication and media and so far as the concept of communication is concerned, it is the exchange of meaning(s) through symbols and signs. One can say that communication is an indispensable process of social existence. One should look communication as a multi-disciplinary field rather than an inter-disciplinary one as the ‘frame of reference’ of each discipline is typical and unique. By doing this we can make communication studies more vibrant by making space for many people to come and work together. The communication is the basis of social and human life.
The corpus of knowledge is expanding at such a pace that it is obligatory for every person to be interdisciplinary and always in communication with each other. The communication is not only a discipline but is also a venture and enterprise. Meanings and knowledge are used as the corpus of culture. So far as communication in this context is concerned, it is not just the discourses of meaning but also a strategic concept.
In present times media and communication are used in a strategic fashion, adhering to certain interests like corporate, civil societies, minorities, rebellious groups, etc. There is some sort of internal competition going on among these aforementioned interest groups. Because of the competition it also influences the formulation of policies, which might be sensitive. It is also emerging as a mark of self-expression and spontaneity. It is also being accommodated by the larger society.
If one looks at the American policy of language and communication, one may find that it is fragmented and utilitarian in nature. The Red Indians and The Whites live in segregation or barriers. There is a lack of sufficient communication between these two groups of people. Interestingly the Whites came together and dominated the communication process. This also falsifies ‘the melting pot’ of society proposition. Lately due to democracy and constitutional discourses, they have begun to accommodate the ‘other’ too. One may ask about the possible reasons behind such segregation, the probable answers may be cultural and historical differences as the Whites were at war with the natives. The communications have been remained embedded to the Whites. The other linguistic communities in the America like Germans, Spanish, French, etc. have maintained their cultural identities.
The story of India is different from the American one, India is a land of diverse culture and plurality. As a member of a committee constituted by the Government of India, I along with Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Alyque Padamsee and Sai Paranjpaye conducted a study on how to make Doordarshan more effective. In that we toured all over India, talked to film producers, actors and other professionals of the field. At that time there was one TV channel. Now there are many channels. But one thing has remained the same: in spite of many options, there is a metropolitan representation of culture, which subverts the local representation of culture.
Bharatnatyam, a classical dance form, can be taken as an example. Any student of classical dance knows that in classical dance, objects are represented through symbolic movements of eyes, lips, fists, etc. A certain kind of ‘mudra’ or movement can be represented in completely different forms in Kolkata and Guwahati. The Bharatnatyam is represented in different way in Assam; this can be termed as national culture located at the local level.
Now the freedom has come….with freedom also comes the diversity. The local artists have got employment. But it has not ended the element of subversion. In one way or the other the media has an element of subversion, which has also created alienation in present times. Alienation, in form of the elite culture and the folk form of culture.
According to French ethnologist Guy Poitevin, there are two forms of communication: the orature (oral culture) and literature. Communication cannot be established only through linguistic discourse and written or printed form. Because written from has limitations and India is so diversified that it cannot get its full expression through written form. Orature is not captured by linguistics, but through art, dance, songs and other forms of art and aesthetics.
Take the example of songs of women grinding the flour, or singing at the well, the communication taking place here, is totally absent in the mainstream. This communication which is expressed in gendered represented activities, is radical and rebellious in nature. Here women are rebelling masculinity and religion. There is also a good example of ‘Bidesia’, which is collection of complaint songs, sung by the women folks of eastern Uttar Pradesh, who express sorrow and loneliness about their husbands and other male members taken away by the colonial rulers to harvest sugarcane crops to the far off land like Surinam, Trinidad and Fiji. These are the songs all about sorrow, rebellion and resentment against the colonial rule, that has emerged as the art form. It ultimately became a form of identity and cultural diversity that was incorporated into freedom movement of India’s independence struggle.
Communication is a master process, a substantive concept which is used for control, subversion, growth and benevolence. It cannot be taken as uni-dimensional concept. Institutions of communication like mass media, art forms, dance forms attract at different level the attention of interest groups. Communication is a process of multidiscipline, it can be better engaged in those disciplines of Social Sciences, which boundaries are not rigid and concepts are fuzzy, say like Sociology. Communication is an exciting area for study and is the most sensitive aspect of the society.