A Round-Table Conference on the theme “Communication for Development: Critical Approaches” as part of Imageind 2017 – The Sonapur Edition, organised by the Department of Mass Communication, and sponsored by Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR-NERC) at Tapesia, Sonapur Campus was held on 30th March 2017.
The conference commenced with a short inauguration and introduction of the members of the conference. These included Mr. H.S. Das, I.A.S. Chief Information Commissioner, Government of Assam as the Keynote Speaker and Chief Guest; Prof. Sanjib Kakoty from IIM, Shillong; Nasreen Habib, the Editor of Eclectic Magazine; Veena Kumari, Communication for Development Officer, UNICEF Field Office Guwahati; Dr. Riju Sharma, Director, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Assam Don Bosco University; Wanphrang Diengdoh, award winning Filmmaker and Musician; Gitali Kakoty, Programme Coordinator, Radio Jnan Taranga as invited members and Rev. Fr. John D. Jayakumar, Founding Member of the Department of Mass Communication, St. Anthony’s College, Shillong, as the Moderator of the Conference. The Vice Chancellor and the Registrar of the University also took part as members of the conference.
Mr. H.S. Das in his keynote speech lauded the efforts of the department for the initiative ‘Imageind 2017-The Sonapur Edition’ and while stressing on the importance of communication tools for development he raised questions of privacy and truth that might be infringed upon and misused in the social media, and said, “we are in the age of the ‘post-truth’ and the ‘alternative truth’.
The discussion that ensued thereafter, had the members discuss on various aspects of communication for development. From referring to what can be considered the three aspects of communication i.e. “to inform, conform and reform” that have perhaps hijacked the marketing requirements of communication to discussing the idea of free flow communication, the members of the panel stated their various perspectives based on the areas of expertise they came from.
Some key ideas discussed were ‘techniques of grass root communication’, ‘the level of participation for communication to take place’, ‘corporate social responsibility’, ‘media trials’ and ‘if information centres in our country are actually having the impact they are meant to have’ besides other very engaging points of view presented. The moderator rounded off the discussions by stating a quotation from one of his professors, “Think of your thinking, learn from your learning and question your questions!” That while dealing with ‘Communication for development: Critical Approaches’, one must be willing to question everything.
The Round table conference is just one of the events of Imageind 2017-The Sonapur Edition. The other events include a photography workshop on 1st April, and a community connect program in one of the villages in Sonapur on 5th April. The Department of Mass Communication, Assam Don Bosco University believes that communication plays a significant role in human development and there is a need to stimulate awareness, participation and capacity building using communication tools. Being a department that stands for advocacy and social mobilisation, the Imageind 2017- The Sonapur Edition has been designed with a participatory approach in mind.