Second Refresher Course on Media Studies & Governance (Day 4)

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 on 14th January and will continue till 4th February, 2014.

Day 4/ 18 January 2014

As per the RC programme, Professor Salil Misra, School of Liberal Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi delivered two lectures, the first one on, “Language Dialectic in India” and the other on, “Language, Media and Nation”. The third lecture by Dr. Anand Pradhan, Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi was on “Journalism as a field: Why Journalism Studies?”.

1st & 2nd  Lectures : “Language Dialectic in India” and “Language, Media and Nation”

Both the lectures by Professor Salil Misra were based on his social historical study of Hindi and Urdu as an expression of socio-political awakening. He talked about the generalization, in the context of the languages. The language is a medium of communication. It is also a form of identity. In India, Hindi and Urdu has been associated with communication and identity.

DSC08311In contemporary times, any language needs support and patronage in spheres of media, administration and education. Earlier the language used to be the medium of literature, religion and ritual expression. That too was restricted to the upper strata of the society. Now the situation is somehow different. Processes of modernization, urbanization and localization have helped promote and progress different languages. But this has also a negative aspect. Many languages are vanishing or dying out. The dominant language in technological usage is either merging with the not-so-dominant language or simply wiping it out. At present there are nearly 7000 languages, out of which many are in the way to extinction.

So the question here is: what does a language require to flourish? It is the literature, script and a middle class or intelligentsia, that can fight for its cause, may help a language progress. There may be official patronage and recognition from the State, but it also works in negativity.  The notion of lingua franca is also helpful for a language to flourish. But in the Indian context, it is difficult to identify a common language spoken in the length and breadth of the country. There are many official languages and there is no national language, overarching over all the languages spoken in India.

The hierarchies have developed to categorize languages. One such hierarchy is language and dialect. A dialect is a language without script. But the absence of script does not hinder the literary progress of any language; Brijbhasha is an example of this. DSC08325Between 1894 and 1928, George A. Grierson, ICS conducted the Linguistic Survey of India, a comprehensive survey of languages in the British India. He discovered that India is a diverse and ancient civilization and there are more than 179 languages and 544 dialects. The language is the whole and the dialect is its part. In other words, language is a dialect with a navy, army and a flag.

So far as language scenario in India is concerned, India is a linguistically plural society, more than 1576 languages has been recorded as “mother tongue” in 1991 survey. The time period from twelfth century to eighteenth century was the most vibrant and rich for the Indian languages. The languages developed during this period, were part of Hindavi tradition. The Hindavi acknowledges the languages spoken by the commoners. It excludes Sanskrit and Persian from its list. Hindavi was amalgam of literature and language. The names of the languages were Gujjari, Dakkani, Dehlavi, Bundeli, etc. generated from geographical location, not from the name of community, ethnicity and religion.  The script of the most of the languages was Persian script.  It was the language of common people like soldiers, traders, sufi saints, etc.  This is in contrast with the European context, where names of the languages were based on ethnicity like French, English, German, etc. The British thought on the same lines in India too and tried to find a Hindu language and a Muslim language, in that they succeed too!  The European languages emerged from small to big, whereas the Indian counterparts shrunk from bigger to smaller.

In the Eighteenth century, the Indian languages also witnessed changes, resulting in the depletion of the language-reservoir and bifurcation, in forms of Urdu and Hindi. A new modern literary tradition developed, a Persianised version of Hindavi became Urdu, and Sanskritised one became Hindi. As during the time of Mir Taqi Mir, the word hindi and urdu were used for the same language. This posed a very different identity tag, as Urdu was patronized by the colonial state. Since 1837 it was recognized as the language of the Northern India. Hindi and Urdu created and developed religious markers and fierce rivalry in politics, ideology and identity. The language question became a political agenda on communal lines. People started to assert one’s identity in terms of language.

In 1941, M. A. Jinnah asked the Muslim community to record Urdu as their language in the Census.  The second half of the Nineteenth century witnessed development of a Hindi movement against Urdu. It became the language of judiciary and administration in Bihar, United Provinces, and Central Provinces around 1900. Hindi also reached out to the rural area of the North area, people have no problem writing in Khari Boli, a dialect of Hindi.

After independence, Hindi was recognized as the national language, with Nagari script. The movement for Hindi’s recognition as the only national language of India brought people on the street in Tamil Nadu and other states. Hindi is much more acceptable to people when it comes via media,  other than politics.  The State patronage has shrunken the acceptability of Hindi. Before 1947 Urdu’s self image was as a rival to Hindi, but after Independence, Urdu battled for a corner. It is recognized as the second language in many states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. It ranks third in terms of journals and magazines published after Hindi and English. Hindi cinema has played a prominent role in the promotion of Urdu and Hindi.

3rd  Lecture : Journalism as a field: Why Journalism Study?

Dr. Anand Pradhan, Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi gave a lecture on “Journalism as a field: Why Journalism Studies”. APradhanHis talk illuminated light on different aspects of journalism from the perspective of a journalist. He explained the notion of ‘Journalism as field’ drawing on  Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘field’ theory,  ‘doxa’ and ‘habitus’. He explained,  every field in the modern world is semi-autonomous in which everybody has a certain role to play. There are rules in the game and everybody has to follow the rules. There are certain individuals who have gathered immense capital and   aim at conserving and transforming the structure. Human behavior is constrained by habitus which is a structuring structure, which organizes and influences the choices people made. As socialized subject, every individual has a personal history and it predetermines the individual course of action. There are forces that try to change the rule and conserve  existing rules . Agents in a field do not always agree on the rules or doxa and tend to change of rules.

The media is changing. Number of individuals who have access to the media, is on increase. The basic tools of media are in their hands. Is it right to call them ‘citizen journalist‘? Journalism is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy. A free media is necessary for the sound practice of democratic values.

Media reports the happenings of the society as an “event” and portrays it as news items. These events are normal to media.  It is very much important to decode the meaning of the message and create ‘media literacy’, to enable oneself to look at the essence, rather than appreciating the appearance.  One must look beyond the content of the media: the ownership in the media and the journalistic values like objectivity, balance, accuracy, fairness, etc.

ParticipantsThe question of representation, that is the class representation in media houses, decides the coverage of the news items, nature of the audiences, etc. Media does the construction of the social reality, it bestows legitimacy upon certain categories.  The journalistic field is not autonomous, it obeys the rules of other fields such as political or economic. People ask questions; why certain stories are covered and others are ignored, who decides what the audience wants to know.

Now a days  the daily newspapers  are not reporting dowry related deaths, but incidents of sexual assault. Do the entire journalists follow the ethical journalistic practices while reporting? There is doxa or rules of the game but are they autonomous. They are under the influence of not just market, but political field too.

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