On the 2nd of December, 2021, the students of the Journalism batch had the opportunity to attend an enriching guest lecture from the esteemed Dr. Pradeep Nair, on the role of Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) in development. They gleaned invaluable insights from this lecture, which was a part of their Fundamentals of Development Communication module.
Dr. Pradeep Nair is a Professor of New Media and the Dean of the School of Journalism, Mass Communication and New Media, as well as the Director of Research, Central University of Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala. His research interests focus on pedagogical approaches of media education, media governance in transitional democracies, health communication and promotion, even as he supervises doctoral students researching in these fields. He also works in editorial positions at various journals, such as the Frontiers in Digital Health, and the Asia Pacific Media Educator (APME), among others. He has been awarded Top Peer Reviewer in Social Sciences by Web of Science and Clarivate Analytics in 2019 and is currently reviewing for the British Medical Journal, WHO Health Bulletin, Health and Technology, Pedagogy in Health Promotion, Asian Ethnicity and Frontiers in Public Health.
Dr. Nair started off his talk by mentioning that it was ICTs that allowed him to interact with the students of SCMC from thousands of miles away. He talked about how the focal point of ICTs in development communication was to improve information opportunities, the information health of communities, and the information vitality of democracy. There is a need for “Informed Communities,” he said, a place where the information ecology meets people’s personal and civic information needs. He also mentioned that ICT tools could be used to encourage people’s participation in governance.
“It’s an entire world, a communication world,” he said, expanding upon how ICTs have improved the information flow, by providing ample opportunities to everyone to discover, gather, contextualize and share information.
Dr. Nair then spoke about how communication is a two-way process only because of the concept of sharing — but to be able to do that with ICTs, certain skills are required to know how to use it effectively. “Development communication is all about mobilizing and motivating people to participate in the development process,” he explained, delving into how new media platforms have the scope to bring about change. The pandemic has expanded the digital divide, he said, and then brought up case studies to help the students understand how ICTs have been used to facilitate development.
After an engaging question and answer session with the students, Dr. Nair also graciously added that if any of the students needed help with their dissertations, they could always reach out to him, for which the students were very grateful. As the students of the Journalism specialization harbor an interest in reporting people’s issues, they were very glad to have this opportunity to converse with Dr. Nair on a related subject that he was so well-versed in. Glad to have been a part of the session, the students were able to take away many learnings about the role of ICTs in development communication in terms of citizen awareness, engagement and mobilisation.