In conversation with Prof (Dr) K G Suresh, Vice Chancellor, Makhanlal Chaturvedi University on NEP 2020 implementation and university growth.
MCU is among the first institutions to implement NEP2020. How has been the experience?
Initially it was very challenging as we had no reference point. We had to start from the scratch. We had to interpret the initial document as the guidelines from UGC and Education ministry were neither specific nor clear to begin with. we sought advice from some experts including members of the drafting committee in designing courses that were in sync with the NEP thought process. We also wanted to ensure that our provisions were not violative of either the UGC or that of the state Higher Education department. We signed MoUs with NCC and NSS to make them part of the generic electives we were offering to student. we created a team of external experts to guide us in preparing generic elective modules. Today we are happy that we were among the first institutions in the country to implement the NEP in letter and spirit and the courses are hugely successful and popular among the students.
In a short span of three years, you have shifted three campuses of your university to three new premises? What were the obstacles?
There were infrastructure and mindset issues. Then there was Corona which prolonged the construction activities and delayed it further but where there is a will, there is a way and we were determined that MCU would have campuses that were befitting its stature as Asia’s first & India’s largest media university. Employees in Bhopal were leading a comfortable life in and around the old campus. It took us a lot of convincing, a lot of persuasion and a little push to make it happen. All in all, it went well. There were issues and concerns related to road and internet connectivity which we have tried to address and today all the three campuses are in a comfortable position.
You had earlier headed Indian Institute of Mass Communication & took it on the road to deemed to be University. What basic difference you found in the two institutions?
Unfortunately for whatever reasons, the deam to be your city dream is yet to be realised at IIMC but MCU has been a university offering UG to PhD programs for a long time now. While IIMC courses are tailor made for the industry, MCU courses gives you several options including career in civil services, government and academics. Certainly, a university is different from an institute in every sense of the term.
How has technology changed media education?
Technology is enabling media students to become multi taskers. They cannot remain confined to one aspect of media technology. It has enabled them to delve deep into research. It has facilitated easier and greater access to making videos and reaching out to larger audiences. You are no more dependent on expensive equipment to teach media technology in the era of mobile journalism. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that technology has democratized media education in terms of access, availability & affordability.
As an educationist, how do you view the future of education, particularly in India?
I am very optimistic. the new education policy has the potential to bring about paradigm shift in our education system with its inbuilt flexibility, focus on lifelong learning, teacher training, research, vocationalization and rooted in Indian knowledge systems. I foresee a more confident and competent generation of Indians being groomed to take on the challenges of the universe while being deeply rooted in their rich traditions
As a passionate advocate of media literacy, what do you think are the challenges in the background of fake news?
Ans: The proliferation of media has penetrated to hitherto technology dark areas with less education and exposure levels. This has provided a free hand to anti-social elements who are thriving with misinformation, disinformation, fake content, fake narratives etc which are misleading the technologically unsavvy populace who have no idea of AI, VR, AR, doctoring of audios, manipulation of videos, distortion of facts etc. In this scenario, it becomes important that media literacy is made an integral part of school curriculum right from the primary level itself. We need a National Media Literacy Mission in place to ensure that vulnerable sections of our society do not get misled by propaganda not only in terms of politics or ideology but also about basic issues such as health and social harmony.
As a senior media person, how do you see technology influencing media consumption?
Today a large number of our young population consumes only digital media as against the traditional media. They watch movies, read news and socialize on their handsets with the touch of their fingers unlike the previous generations who read newspapers and watched television. This has both positive and negative implications. While user friendly technology is always welcome, it also calls for greater level of awareness in the absence of which people can become vulnerable to financial and political crooks & criminals lurking around the dark net.
As someone who promoted health communication, how do you see the domain emerging in the post corona era?
One of the few positive fallouts of the much-hated corona has been the renewed focus on health and education. Media today is not only reporting about vaccines, and other developments in the research arena but also about infrastructure issues at the primary health care level. This is a welcome change. One hopes then that even after we leave corona far behind, this renewed focus on health would expand to other equally worrying health concerns that plague humanity. We as a developing country need not only double-digit percentage media coverage on health issues but also an army of public health communicators to deal with the present and future challenges.