HPU Conference: New Media Facilitating More Public Engagement in Democracy

Oct 04, 2013 17:06 |
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Shimla:Can the competing social media campaigns by Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi influence the hearts and minds of the Indian youth? Like the American presidential elections, will the next Indian general election be won or lost on the basis of performance on television and social networking sites? The students of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Himachal Pradesh University discussed, questioned and argued. This was during the concluding session of the National Conference on Mass Media and the Indian Public Sphere: Issues and Challenges.


The student’s minds were catalyzed by eminent scholars from all over the country during the two-day conference on ‘Mass Media and the Indian Public Sphere: Issues and Challenges’, organized by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla from 3rd to 4th October, 2013. Issues discussed during the two-day conference include corporatization of media and the freedom of expression, role of mass media in the evolution of the Indian public sphere, and issues related to the social networking sites, freedom of expression and media regulations.

Prof. N.A.K. Durrani of Aligarh Muslim University asserted that social media present many opportunities and challenges to the youth today. He said, “One cannot undermine the fact that the social media has emerged as an important tool in the communication matrix. There is no denying the fact that the social media is being misused at times by unscrupulous people. But the day is not far when the social media channels will have to regulate the content.”

Talking about the opportunities presented by the social media for the evolution of the public sphere, Prof. Vir Bala Aggarwal, Chairperson, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and coordinator of the conference, explained how coffee houses and the public meeting places in earlier times acted as nurseries for public sphere. With the advent of the mass media, as the people were reduced to audiences at the receiving end, the public sphere got a little set-back. However, she expressed a hope that with the advent of the social media the public sphere will get strengthened.

Dr. Vikas Dogra, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Himachal Pradesh University and co-coordinator of the conference expressed an opinion that social networking sites are an extension of the continual process of human communication.  As a tool for communication, the social media, including the social networking sites are still in nascent stages. As the tool will evolve along with its user, the combined contribution to the public sphere will become more constructive.

Dr. M. Rabindranath of the School of Mass Communication and New Media spoke extensively on social networking, online community and social relations development. He discussed the role of social networking sites in the context of freedom of expression.

Some of the eminent speakers who presented their scholarly papers on the second day include:

·        Dr. M. Rabindranath, Associate Professor, Central University of Himachal Pradesh and Ajay Kumar, Guest Faculty, Department of Journalism and Mass communication, Himachal  Pradesh University presented a joint paper on SNS-Freedom of Expression: A Demeanour Dissection.

·        Dr. Gopal Singh, Associate Professor, Department of Mass communication and Journalism, B.R. Ambedkar Central University, Lucknow and Nitin Kumar Assistant Professor Doon University, Dehradun made a joint presentation on Freedom of Press: Corporate Media vs. Public Interest.

·        Prof. Kamaljeet Singh and Vikram Singh, Department of Laws, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, made a joint presentation on Fourth Estate in the Constitutional Ambit:- Analyzing Free Speech under Democracy.

·        Dr. Dhiraj Shukla, Associate Professor, Teerthankar Mahaveer University Muradabad spoke on the topic Corporatization of Media: A Challenge to Freedom of Expression.

·        Dr. Sheetal Thapar, Associate Professor, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana and Navneet Sharma, Sub-editor of Rozana Spokesman, spoke on Role of Social Media in India.

·        Varun Vagish, Assistant Manager (PR) Coal India Ltd. Spoke on Corporatization of Media (Bollywood) and Freedom of Expression.

·        Mr. Saurabh Sood, Assistant Professor, Government Post Graduate College, Nahan and Sanjeev Kumar, Assistant Professor, Government Post Graduate College, Chamba made a joint presentation on Freedom of Expression on Social Networking Sites.

·      Rajni Kumari, Research Scholar of Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Himachal Pradesh University spoke on the topic Social Media – A Participatory Approach: Issues and Challenges.