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 9/ 24 January 2014
As per the RC programme, Dr. Neshat Quaiser delivered a lecture on “Nineteenth Century Urdu Theatre and Public Arena”. Dr. Taberez Neyazi, the next speaker, gave a talk on “Hindi Journalism and Deepening of Democracy”. Then, Dr. Sanam Khanna spoke on “Gazing at the Monster through the media: constructing crime in the Capital”.
1st Lecture : Nineteenth Century Urdu Theatre and Public Arena
Dr. Neshat Quaiser teaches Sociology at Jamia Millia Islamia. He delivered a lecture on, “Nineteenth Century Urdu Theatre and Public Arena”. According to Dr. Quaiser, Urdu theatres as a mode of communication became a battleground of morality in the last quarter of the Nineteenth century. Placing the argument in the backdrop of the mutiny of 1857, which radically altered the society and the moral fabric, he showed how the issue of sexuality was hotly debated in the public sphere through Urdu theatre. Muslims of all castes and classes, particularly elite and educated high caste/class Muslims of Bihar, patronized the Urdu theatre. For them it was a means to reinvent their tradition, to renegotiate with the self. But it also provided a platform to the ‘subalterns’ who challenged the normative structure of the elite Muslim society.
The three categories that were parties on morality question through Urdu theatre were high caste elite morality, subaltern groups and colonial morality. For the high caste elites, Urdu theatre was a site of moral corruption. They used to forbid their children and women folks from watching theatre-staged acts and plays. For them it was a Western import, contrary to their cultural tradition. Urdu theatre in the Nineteen century was considered as immoral leisure. The elites opposed the theatres on ‘moral’ ground as a means of social control and yet they could not escape from its influence, as theatre emerged as marker of modernity. The subalterns were the patrons of the Urdu theatre. It was an act of rebel and resistance for the subalterns and women to watch plays. The subalterns were challenging the elite, by visiting theatre; “theatre ka tamasha dekha” was the common phrase in verbal communication in those days. The ‘subalterns’, who were even out of the margins, made their presence felt in theatre.
Imperial Theatrical Troupe, the first theatre group of Bihar, was established in 1887. The theatres were a source of identity, entertainment, solidarity and negotiation to the self. The lowly people who used to visit theatre were considered highly immoral. The Women called as bazaaru or of market place were part of the theatre, both as performer and audience. The elite were afraid that their children or ladies would be corrupted, if they will be in company of these subalterns, low income commoner and bazaaru women. Furthermore the women in theatre were considered ‘enemy’ of morality, civility and faith. Urdu theatres in the Nineteenth century became the conflicting site of morality, due to the colonially structured spaces. Dr. Quaiser argued that the colonially propelled theatre had created a somewhat relaxed atmosphere as a marker of modernity. The acceptance and popularity of Urdu theatre both among the elites and subalterns is an example of reinvention of binary selves from their own vantage points.
2nd Lecture : Hindi Journalism and Deepening of Democracy
Dr. Taberez Neyazi, Assistant Professor at Centre for Culture, Media and Governance; Jamia Millia Islamia, gave a talk on “Hindi Journalism and Deepening of Democracy”. In his talk, Dr. Neyazi explained the impact of media in mobilizing the public concern. In order to establish a relation of media and public, he quoted Manuel Castells who wrote: “What does not exist in the media does not exist in the public mind”. It has been argued that there is a decline in the social capital as more people are spending their time by watching television and less time in interacting with each other. The content people are watching on television is the matter of concern.
The vernaculars have played an important role in the deepening of democracy. The vernacular media, Hindi newspapers in particular, have helped mobilize masses at grassroots level. After Independence, the birth of India as a nation made several promises, but she failed to instill new conceptual vocabulary like democracy, rights, institution, etc. into the consciousness of masses. But the regionalization of politics and imposition of the Emergency in 1975 changed the game. People became aware of their political strength.
The Hindi journalism has reported the people centric news and views many times, that has made the politicians, bureaucrats and, above all, the common people to look into the matter and intervene. At present social media, not excluding others, has become a platform where debates on the notions of citizenship, democracy, rights, etc are taking place and are also influencing the political transformation. The internal challenges faced by the media are corruption, paid news, marginalization of issues.
3rd Lecture : Gazing at the Monster through the media: constructing crime in the National Capital Region
Dr. Sanam Khanna teaches English Literature at Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi. She spoke on “Gazing at the Monster through the media: constructing crime in the Capital”. It was a presentation based on her larger work, in which she has analyzed the reporting of crime news in newspapers with reference to Nithari Killings and Arushi-Hemraj Murder. The newspaper selected for this study was The Times of India, due to its large circulation.
The elements of Gothic literature have been used as frame of reference and analysis. The first ten days of the Nithari killings (2006-07) and Arushi murder case (2008) were used for construction of crime in capital. In both the cases the victims were portrayed as innocent and helpless. The Times of India reported these two incidents as something unexplained. The ‘unexplained’ determines the creation of monster in the society. Monster is a fear, an evil desire, something which is not a part of regular setting, which is from other land.
The language and the choice of words of the news-items was laden with adjectives. The lonely woman becomes the victim of the monster. The criminal is deviant and is somewhere monster in instinct. The dramatic representation of the site of crime along with the life sketches of the victim, who usually happens to be a part of privileged group. The narration of incidents and criminal deviancy in crime constructs the monster. In doing this, the media first construct a larger than life image of the monster, so that it can demolish it on later stages. All types of speculations are used to identify the criminal and victims. The accused, once constructed as monster, lost its privacy and become the object of public gaze and ridicule