A PAPER ON COMMUNICATION
The People with whom we work
We are working with different ethnic tribal groups namely Kondhs, Gadavas, Konda Dora’s, Porojas, Bhotras and so many other social groups. These tribal groups have their own language of communication. However, Oriya is their state language. The tribes who have accepted the Hindu way of life, the assimilated, the sanskritised, economically developed are able to move in the social hierarchy, and attain higher economic status and are considered as the leaders and they speak Oriya. The people who are unable to speak Oriya develop inferiority complex and feel always insecure and lower.
Leadership is highly linked with linguistics. Whether a Government or a non-governmental worker who knows Oriya is compelled to approach the leaders. The leaders command respect in the village and always grasp the opportunity meant for the people and thus fostering themselves as leaders. However, the project could eliminate this leadership with appropriate communication techniques.
Understanding Communication for development
A crucial phenomenon of development is understanding communication as development. At the least, it involves change. As mentioned above, the primary barrier - of language made us to understand that suitable and relevant communication methods to be adopted and ensure communication playing a role of a vehicle for development. From our experience, we are sure that the present state of affair in perpetuating the social economic and cultural injustice is continuously permeated on the majority due to information being the most neglected link in the development process.
As we understand and given to realize that “every thing that passes for knowledge in the society” is the right communication. This system essentially maintains the relationship of individuals in the society by circulation and exchange of messages and messages relevant to their common experience. Thus, the information presented through a communication medium should enable the people both to understand what is happening to them and how to overcome their problems. This is a challenge, where communication plays a role in making the people to reason, question and act as this exercise of receiving knowledge is intimately strengthens the power for their well being.
Communication a Basic need
One of the very basic need of survival apart from food, cloth and shelter is knowledge and how we receive this knowledge from where, from whom, for what and for why. There is certainly a gap of information and communication in achieving and attaining the relevant knowledge for the survival. This gap is the lack of information, which can be filled through certain media and can serve the people at large equally whether they are Dalits, the tribals, the women and the poor. It is better to think at present what sort of information is reaching the people or do they have accessibility for such informations giving them knowledge. Therefore, information is the most basic of the basic needs without of which one cannot do anything.
The information we mean that gives individuals and community to share their life for which it should be never isolated from the other areas of the life but integrated into a more general concept of development. So, information should not communicate only technical know-how but also make aware the people to really grasp what is happening to them.
One cannot imagine to our situation why we ape the western media so as to say the modern communication system helps the rural Indian. The science and fruits of scientific development arrived at the cost of all the people is monopolized and favour only a few.
The Constitution of India guarantees certain fundamental rights and these rights ought to be effectively exercised in the favour of the majority - a free flow of rightful information. Though we have adopted some mass media apparatus again the question is who are the beneficiaries and do the rural people, the people in living below the poverty line will be offered the media like Newspapers, Radio and Television. A message that liberates from all bondages. No?
Critical look into the mass media
The press in India is privately owned by big business houses and some of them indirectly supported by the political parties or by socio-religious organizations. The press enjoys the freedom except on certain occasion it is subjected to censorship. However, this reaches only the literate mostly the urban a print media controlled by the rich and the conditioning of mind is slowly carried out in accepting modernism, consumerism and market economy.
The electronic media which is next to the press in the dissemination of information is under the control of Government, owned and managed by the so-called professionals so the radio and television has a social and moral responsibility in promoting information and therefore knowledge.
Today the Doordharsan has come to an object of ridicule. Most programmes drew viewer ship, which has nothing better to do in changing attitudes. Instead, a constant message of Sanskritisation the viewers are the victims of the programme contact - a cultural domination “ Sanskritisation and conditioning of the mind” and with out the quality of the professionals themselves have become the victims of the State of demoralized conditioning. The values of the mass media radio or TV or paper flow from the values of those who work for it and those who control its content. Sometimes the electronic media simply becomes an audiovisual version of the print media. The persons responsible for programmes in the existing media, not all are having high aesthetic sense, progressive outlook and sensitive human values.
Hardly anybody bothers about the basic ingredients that has to be there in the programme to make it credible and based on quality. Today the projected programmes are evaluated only on the programme contents and not on the quality. Though the present government trying the best to bring change in the existing system we are left back again with the same psyche and the same attitude. The structural change should also take into account the professional integrity by serving through the electronic media to bring out messages sensitive to the public opinion, people’s aspiration, the attitude and the interest for a change towards a holistic living.
As of now, the media is playing a role to ensure that it gives information and knowledge that does not provide a space for the changes in the present socio-economic and political order. Therefore dis-information and poor knowledge and no knowledge at all, is received by certain section of the people who are promoting the present socio-political injustice. The credibility of the programme can be attained only when there is a change in the present form of projection from personality oriented to event oriented or issue oriented. The electronic media devotes less time to socio-economic problems and often makes them subservient to political issues.
If there should be a change in the content and the quality of any given programme through any media the people working in the media should have a concept of equality, justice, freedom and more than that they should have the freedom to champion equality and freedom for all those who for generation after generation, decade after decade have been denied freedom. 43 years of independence has definitely brought change and progress and development benefits, but only for a quarter of our people? Still how many more years we require at least to provide the basic needs for more than 600 million people. What is a role of a communication? What type of communication? And what we wanted to advocate. “Information and messages to hasten up the process of egalitarianism”? Mass streaming is it necessary to probe into the causes of extreme richness and wealth of the few on the one hand and dire poverty and the misery of the majority on the other?. Are we bothered of the 600 million population? Is this the population to be brought under focus of communication for development? While majority of them, do not have the access to the medium. Consequently addressing them through controlled media is out of question. What sort of medium to be colyeted ? The other aspect of sharing information is to openly share the guilt - the real issue of freedom, justice and national integration to the advantaged group for which this group perpetuates the socio-economic injustice, promoting of the modernity at the cost of the poor and the appropriation of the resources of the disadvantaged and pushing them form a level of poverty to marginalisation, vulnerability to destitution - a kind of reverse order from the top down flow of information to bottom- up information. The need of the hour is an emergence of a reverse communication addressed to the elites, the rich, the powerful in aiming towards altering their attitudes and thus promote a more ethical and social change in the process of development at all.
The next media is the conditioning of mind through process of slavery to media - the box office cinema “ the world money, glamour, modernism, and the consumerism”. Today cinema is largely based on hatred, vengeance, violence and vulgarity. The Cinema should share information through in-depth analysis of corruption and exploitation. For movie is the legitimate and most important medium in which issues of concern can be treated. Therefore, cinema can be seen as one of the most powerful medium, which can be used for the development of the people.
Today and since the production of silent movies if you analyse the central theme of these pictures you will find this medium never have been used to disseminate people’s message however a social message has been promoted. Even, if we try to focus the realities of the poor, it is being meant for commercial purposes. It is the intention that not to make people understand and the factors governing their life but always keep and claim by providing a mental solace. Entertainment and the problem of the majority are so intelligently presented for few people’s palatial life.
In development context while working in highly “under developed areas” and with tribal communities the worker in the beginning finds himself in conflict and contradictions as the planning of various development projects implemented with noble intentions have some how or other, destroyed the expectation of the mass. This is because we enter in a preconceived attitude to development not giving space to emerge from the experience of ones work.
If we cared to look the faces of the fellow human in remote areas and the poverty striken people, we find distress and fear in them. They have been continuously exploited, displaced, dispossessed and force the people to live is isolation. The illusions created in the mind has evaporated and they feel a sense of alienation. They are illiterate and better we do not under estimate their intelligence. The continuous exploitation the accompanied ignorance and backwardness with empty promises, changes in political sphere, mercilessly shattered their hopes. The superstitution, the social stigmas, to be loyal to their master’s rule all their life, and the sentimental traditional religious legends which is right from pre - natal to marriage and to their off springs push them to darkness. Lack of information and knowledge make them to cling to their customary faith and supernatural power- religion. Christian communicates a constant hammering - a continuous nature of faith - a process of reinforcement of attitudes an internalization.
An attempt and response to the situation
The project after a series of discussion involved in identifying existing communication systems among the people. Having known and seeing the situation, certain messages are identified to share the informations through the existing system communication - Folk media.
1. Story telling
2. Dance and drama
As agents of change we were able to identify and use other communication techniques like - participatory - issue based media
1. Role play
2. Street theatre
3. Puppet show
No regular syllabus is adopted and certain issues affecting their life politically, socially, culturally are identified and through inter personal communication, individual dialogue, group discussion, community meetings and through cultural team, efforts are being made to share and disseminate relevant messages. Later after years of experience the project moved into identifying various communication medium like
5. Audio cassettes
6. 16 mm films
7. Video films
Through the above various medium we are able to compliment and supplement the efforts of awareness building for social change. One more attempt we made is to intervene in the traditional dance drama troupe. Where artists are exposed to realities and they are, facilitate to tune to present messages and information relevant to the people by incorporating in their traditional story with the new information.
The projects use the people’s language as medium of communication. As the settlers of Koraput District speaks Oriya and the inhabitants who are tribes have their own languages, we communicate the message in slang Oriya which can be understood by the majority.
Lastly, I would like to conclude saying that “information is knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is freedom and justice. The majority will definitely find their information and take the power”.