We have to produce global journalists with strong Indian roots: K G Suresh

The state of media education in India is evolving and witnessing new changes everyday. The Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), a premier institute of the country that can play a leading role in the standardisation of the media education curriculum in the country. The Director General of IIMC , K. G. Suresh shares his views with Teresa Rehman

How do you think can an institution like the IIMC be taken to new heights?

IIMC has always been one of India’s premier media training institutions. It is the academy for the Indian Information Service. It has one of the oldest communication research departments in this part of the world. It houses one of India’s biggest media libraries. Recently India Today ranked it as India’s Best Communication College. We have a global footprint having trained over 1600 mid career journalists from 128 developing countries.

Over the years, IIMC has come to be identified as a media school. It is high time we reposition IIMC as the nation’s communication think tank. That’s why we have given a major push to language journalism. We have started the Community Radio Empowerment and Resource Centre to train people to set up community radio stations across the country. Community Radio has a vast potential in taking the development process to the grassroots. We have also recently set up the National Media Faculty Development Centre to train media educators from across the country. We have revived our peer reviewed UGC approved quarterly journals ‘Communicator’ and ‘Sanchar Madhyam’.  We have revived our publications division. We are conducting major research studies including one on the status of women in media in south Asia in collaboration with UNESCO. We have tied up with institutions such as FTII to offer their short-term courses in our campuses. We have designed India’s first Public Health Communication Course in collaboration with UNICEF, Oxford University and Thompson Reuters Foundation. We have started an online course for media persons in association with Thomson Reuters.

We are in a rejuvenation mode on the path of glory.

Do you think that there is a need to have IIMCs in different corners of the country? Do you think they have been able to do justice to the needs of the students? 

We have five regional campuses of IIMC at Jammu, Amrawati, Maharashtra; Dhenkanal, Odisha; Kottayam, Kerala; and Aizawl, Mizoram, apart from our Delhi mother campus.

Our Dhenkanal campus is celebrating its silver jubilee. Other campuses are currently functioning from temporary premises. We hope to shift both Aizawl and Kottayam campuses to their permanent location in the next few months. We have acquired land in both Jammu and Amravati and we hope to start construction of our permanent campuses at these places shortly.

Through these regional campuses, we are able to provide quality media education to students of Malayalam, Marathi and Odiya journalism and thereby catering to the growing demands of the language media.

Do you think that a deemed university status for IIMC will change things on the ground?

Certainly, the deemed university status would enable us to provide Post Graduate, M.Phil and Ph.D programmes to our students. So far we have been training students for the industry. University status would enable us to prepare them for academic and research jobs as well.

What has been your greatest achievement as DG IIMC?

Restoring the pristine glory of the institution by giving a major push to language journalism, community radio, faculty development, outreach programmes etc and thereby giving shape to its mandate for taking communication to the doorsteps of every citizen.

Many media schools have cropped up in the country. What would be your advice to these fledging media schools? 

I think it is high time we have a regulatory framework for media education in the country. IIMC is ready to shoulder this responsibility. There is a need for standardization of courses as in the case of other disciplines. Today teaching shops have become the norm and students are being cheated. Our decision to set up the National Media Faculty Development Centre is a step in that direction. Even prestigious institutions such as Delhi University do not have a journalism department. Journalism is yet to evolve as an academic discipline. Media education is not just about technology and equipments. It is about content, ethics, development, diversity and democracy.

Do you think there is a need to change the curriculum of the media schools in the country? Do you think it should be tailored to the local needs and social milieu?

As I said, we need to bring about standardization but at the same time, it cannot ignore the local factors. For example, our language journalism programmes have a strong component of the language and the history of its media, apart from local developmental and socio-economic and political issues. We have to produce global journalists with strong Indian roots.

Teresa Rehman

Teresa Rehman

Teresa Rehman is an award-winning journalist based in Northeast India. She had worked with India Today magazine, The Telegraph and Tehelka. She is now the Managing Editor of The Thumb Print. She has been awarded the WASH Media Awards 2009-2010. She had recieved the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for two consecutive years (2008-09 and 2009-10) for the category 'Reporting on J&K and the Northeast (Print). She received the Laadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity 2011, Sanskriti Award 2009 for Excellence in Journalism and the Seventh Sarojini Naidu Prize 2007 for Best Reporting on Panchayati Raj by The Hunger Project. She was also featured in the Power List of Femina magazine in 2012. Her two book are 'The Mothers of Manipur' (Zubaan Books) and Bulletproof (Penguin).