The first day of the Two-Week Capacity-building Workshop on Media and Communication Studies started on 17 April 2017 with an introduction by Prof. Biswajit Das, Director of the Centre for Culture, Media and Governance (CCMG). Talking about the background of the workshop, he informed that UGC recognised CCMG as one of “Centers with Potential Excellence in particular areas” (CPEPA) to work on “Strengthening Media & Communication Studies in India”. The objective of organising such workshops is to encourage interdisciplinary research in key cluster areas and provide a platform to the Indian scholars working in the area of communication and media. Keeping this objective in mind, scholars from across India have been chosen for the workshop.
After these introductory remarks, the Honourable Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof. Talat Ahmad was offered a bouquet of flowers to him by CCMG Ph.D. student Mr. Imran Parray. Subsequently, eminent journalist and writer Mr. Saeed Naqvi who was to deliver a Keynote address, was also presented a bouquet of flowers.
This was followed by a self-introduction of the Workshop participants who represent 14 different states of India.
Before inviting the Honourable Vice Chancellor to deliver the inaugural address, Prof. Das noted that Prof. Talat Ahmad was instrumental in bringing the CPEPA recognition to the Centre and had always extended his support.
The Honourable Vice Chancellor said, the field of Communication Studies is a diverse field in which new areas are emerging. The workshop will be helpful in bringing together people from academics as well as industry.
Senior journalist, Mr. Saeed Naqvi was invited to deliver the Keynote address. Mr. Naqvi has been associated with CCMG since its inception. He is one of the founding advisors of CCMG. In his address, he compared the contemporary scenario of journalism with the practice of journalism in the past in India. He pointed out the decline in the quality of journalism. Journalism is not investigative any more. In the days of investigative journalism there was a respectability and nobility attached to the profession, but now it is only financially lucrative, that inspires the spirit of gaining stardom overnight than gradually gaining sustainable and qualitative grounding in the field.
Mr Naqvi cited the example of veteran war correspondent of CNN Mr. Peter Arnett who chose to put his career at stake by reporting that US military used sarin nerve gas in a mission to kill American defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War. Peter Arnett was reprimanded for this report and CNN later retracted from this report. Mr Naqvi said that we do not find such investigative and courageous journalism today, especially after globalisation.
With the rush to achieve highest TRPs, there is a lack of serious content in journalism today. What we see is repetitiveness. Mr Naqvi demystified the myth that TRPs reflect the taste of people because of which channels are compelled to produce specific content. To substantiate this, he referred to a programme of Doordarshan on Gulf war which was receiving higher TRPs than Kaun Banega Karorepati (KBC), still it was KBC that was glorified. This shows that TRP is nothing but a bourgeois trick. By way of conclusion, he posed a question – can there be a model of media which is self-sustaining?
The inaugural session ended with a vote of thanks by Prof. Saima Saeed. Hony. Media Deputy Coordinator of Jamia and faculty at CCMG, Prof. Saeed thanked the Honourable Vice Chancellor to inaugurate the Workshop. She also underlined that Mr. Saeed Naqvi had been instrumental in many ways in what CCMG had achieved so far.
Before breaking for lunch, all participants of the Workshop gathered for a group photo.
In the post-lunch session, Dr. Kaisii Athikho, faculty in CCMG has briefed the participants about the logistics and workshop programme.
The last session of the day was on ‘Communication as Social Sciences’. Eminent Sociologist Prof. Yogendra Singh delivered the lecture on the possibilities of conceptualising communication as a science. He said that communication as a subject of enquiry is an interesting area. To begin with, one has to first define the meaning of communication. According to him the simplest and an all-encompassing definition of communication is that it is transmission of meanings through symbols. This definition includes three key elements of transmission, meaning and symbol. Without these three key elements social science cannot study communication. At the same time we cannot think of social science without communication. He provided a framework to study communication as a social science in terms of four characteristics of communication:
He further explained these characteristics in detail.
According to him communication is hierarchical in nature in traditional societies. As Louis Dumont in his seminal work Homo Hierarchicus has explained encompassing factors of hierarchy in India. In traditional societies values dominate the hierarchical structure of communication. This means that the coordinates of the communication are pre-defined. The nature of communication today has become more instrumental compared to traditional societies. Instrumentality dominates values. It is guided by global market culture and contacts. It is deeply rooted and mediated through technology and market, whereas the traditional communication was embedded into culture. While comparing the traditional societies with modern, Prof. Singh further adds that communication in any class society is not devoid of power. Power and communication come close together. In traditional societies the disruptive aspect of communication is controlled so as to avoid any disequilibrium. Social scientists have studied the disruptive aspects of communication and have identified a direct link between communication and resentment. In fact nature of social change has to be discussed with regard to the disruptive element of communication as power structure of society is involved in managing communication. But with the contemporary times the elements of stability and disruption have assumed a new form with the exposure to market culture.
With regard to the second characteristic of holistic he stated that in traditional societies people do not speak as individuals but as collectivity. Notion of individuality is a ‘modern’ notion. The third characteristics of continuity exemplify the coexistence of secular with sacred, materiality with spirituality and past with present. The continuity of tradition leads to the transcendental aspect of communication where the last resort of communication is transcendence.
With these characteristics, Prof. Singh elaborated a sociological framework for studying communication that may lead to the development of communication as social science.