The students of the Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC) attended a guest lecture on September 11th, 2022, by Mr. Gopikrishnan Nair, who is currently working as Senior Officer, Strategic Communications, at the Population Foundation of India.
Mr. Nair has eight years of experience in designing and implementing communication strategies at corporates, start-ups, public policy think tanks, non-profits and educational institutions. He has also worked with the United Nations Regional Information Centre (serving Europe), helped set up an online outreach system for MoSW-Govt of Kerala, and co-founded the Kerala chapter of ‘Paperman’.
The guest session was conducted online on Microsoft Teams. It began with an exploration of the key terms in relation to public policy and the basics of behaviour change communication. Mr. Nair, in his session, highlighted three typical types of public policy – long-term planning for policy, mass advocacy and targeted advocacy.
He discussed the necessity to have an economic viewpoint. Sharing an example about the goal to increase the number of toilets in use, he said, “You can put toilets in place, but getting them to use, it is a different game.”
Mr. Nair also elaborated upon two types of information transmission – vertical (generation to generation) and horizontal (across the generation), going on to explain how environmental influences are the best way to create change as “we are what is taught to us”.
In the context of the show ‘Mai Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon’, he discussed the three key requisites for behaviour change: repackaging, subliminal messaging and reinterpretations.
The session then moved on to a Q&A segment. To a question about how third-year students can understand rural markets at the grassroots level, he suggested focusing on research published by government sources and NGOs. Mr Nair concluded his session emphasising on the fact that rural India has experienced a digital shift especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which should be kept in mind when choosing a certain research methodology.
Students who attended the session left with a better understanding of the entry points into the field of public policy as well as the skillsets required to bring about gradual change in India.