Development Communication in Practice: India and the Millennium Development Goals


J. V. Vilanilam

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    This book is dedicated to the fond memory of Tejeshwar Singh who introduced me to SAGE 25 years ago and gave me all the encouragement and support to write five books. He was a kind soul, silent but very active, gentle but quite firm when needed, and immensely understanding, scholarly and suave. The Indian world of communication has lost a great communicator.

    It is also dedicated to Professor Dr John A. Lent, my professor at Temple University, Philadelphia, an expert in mass communication, particularly Asian mass media, who helped me in my pursuit of my Master of Science and PhD degrees in mass communication.

    List of Tables, Figures and Appendix Tables


    Permit me a few personal beliefs and disbeliefs:

    I do not have faith in globalization, when the control of large portions of trade, information and culture remains in the clutches of greedy corporate behemoths closely aligned with big governments and militaries, when such giant entities bully other governments and industries to act against their will in order to gain access to the globalization arena and when the products that fuel globalization are produced by wage slaves.

    I do not believe there is a global village, when more than one-half of the world's population has yet to use a telephone for the first time and when much of the transmission mechanism necessary for mass interconnection is either not accessible or affordable.

    I am not enamoured by so much of the new information technology, when much of it is used for idle chatter, game playing and other escapist entertainment and, as cyber-netician Norbert Wiener warned more than 60 years ago, to wage war and to unemploy and deskill people.

    I am unimpressed (often angrily so) with so much of what passes as modernization and development, when cloud-enshrouded, glass cocoons replace inner-city communities; McDonaldization and Disneyfication run roughshod over indigenous food, culture and entertainment; and tourism detrimentally alters societies with its land-grabbing theme parks and golf courses, energy-devouring, neon-lit entertainment attractions and morally debasing nightclubs, casinos and fleshpots.

    I am saddened by the mothballing of the topics of development and development communication in both academic and media discourse. These are replaced in the academy by whatever is fashionable to study at the time, or, more often, what is capable of garnering big-dollar grants. In the press and in broadcasting the replacement takes place by sensationalism, gossip, trivialities, shouting matches pretending to be debates and feel good news.

    By now, I should have moved beyond such scepticism, and perhaps I would have, had the social conscientization campaigns of the 1960s–1970s (for example, New World Information and Communication Order) escalated (or even maintained their pace at the time); had the narcissistic me generations of the 1980s and beyond not materialized; had leaders of NGOs and governmental agencies who are dedicated to development been more selfless, less politically-motivated, and more honest; had not national leaders (particularly those of the United States and Great Britain) squandered hundreds of billions (even trillions) of dollars on wars that devastated entire populations of countries while guaranteeing huge multinational corporation profits; had the world had more humanitarian statesmen and fewer politicians. This is too much conditionality, to be sure.

    On the positive side, some of the thoughts and plans of the 1960s and 1970s have been implemented in isolated projects throughout the world—Schumacher's concepts of smallness, capital inexpensiveness and non-violence (and let me add, slowness) have been applied to economics; Freire's pedagogy of the oppressed ideas of learning through participation, and others promoting the use of horizontal communication, appropriate technology and traditional communication forms have been globally accepted.

    Unfortunately, these theories and experiments have not been taken up on a more-encompassing scale, partly because the onrush of new information technology, pushed by technocrats and the commercial sector as the cure-all, swept them aside, and partly because some of the NGOs responsible for their dissemination and implementation either lost their funding or were made less effective (for example, UNESCO for the long period when the United States government pulled its membership and funds). Perhaps a third reason for the diminished interest in these alternatives (at least in the U.S. and much of the West) is the lack of public awareness of the problems and issues faced by much of the Earth's population: in the media, what little appeared on the so-called Third World before has been replaced by an increased number of stories on the trivial, nonsensical and idiotic activities of show business and sports celebrities, the crime of the moment or other sensational fare.

    Similarly, it seems (again in the U.S. context) that the topic of development communication has faded from university curriculum and academic publishing, possibly because the young teachers and researchers entering the academy as professionals are those children, who grew up during the me generation and do not have a high level of public consciousness.

    One prominent academician who has not wavered in his dedication to development communication is the author of this book, John Vilanilam, who, for more than 30 years, has tried to keep the topic alive through his many books and articles and his teachings.

    In this volume, Professor Vilanilam looks at India's millennium goals in development communication, reviewing the country's development activities since independence in 1947, reporting the coverage results of seven Indian newspapers of development communication, and discussing current Indian economic plans. At times, Professor Vilanilam questions what is perceived as development and in the process, reveals his keen sensitivity and understanding. For example, he states that although India now has a few billionaires and a number of successful industrial houses, and has become a major outsourcing station, none of these can be equated to development news. He also questions whether growth is the same as development.

    The author neatly blends the case study of India with historical and contemporary theories and paradigms of economics, social change, globalization and communication for development. The result is a comprehensive and readable volume collecting many of the thoughts on development and development communication (including that of the author, based on his decades of study and research) and examples of the practical application of those ideas in various parts of the world, but concentrating on India.

    We are indebted once again to Professor John V. Vilanilam for writing an important book that needs to be read by government officials and economists, development communication practitioners and the academic and media communities.

    JohnA.LentSchool of Communications and Theater Temple University, Philadelphia, USA


    For at least four decades now, teachers and practitioners of development communication, a subject taught at the graduate and postgraduate levels in many South Asian and Southeast Asian universities, have carried in their heads a certain view of development. But it is a fact that most of these universities still do not have books written on the history and practice of the discipline in their own geographical and cultural contexts. Books written by scholars from abroad look at economic development from their own perspectives and students and teachers stress concepts evolved elsewhere. Even media workers shape their understanding of development communication from the ideas most often presented by foreign scholars without bothering to bring into focus the actual conditions prevailing in their own environments.

    Rare exceptions to this general rule have occurred from time to time; the scholarly work, for example, done by Daniel Lerner whose Passing of Traditional Society is a classic in sociology and development communication. Similarly, Wilbur Schramm's individual works and those in collaboration with Lerner and others, the works of Everett M. Rogers, particularly The Diffusion of Innovations and a number of other learned treatises of the 1970s and 1980s have dealt extensively with the practical aspects of development communication. And works of Gunnar Myrdal (Asian Drama, for example) and those of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) have been seminal treatises on economic development. In the 1970s other famous works such as E. F. Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful, the world famous Club of Rome's Limits to Growth and the works of the thinkers and philosophers of the Frankfurt School have compelled world bodies such as the UN, UNESCO and the UNDP to revise concepts of development. Ignacy Sachs, Denis Goulet and others have stressed the need to revise concepts of development and make them congenial to a re-thinking based on the basic needs of humans.

    Eminent scholars of the world came together in 1978 and worked for the Study of Communication Problems under the auspices of UNESCO and under the Chairmanship of Sean McBride, one-time Prime Minister of Ireland and submitted their Report that was later published under the title Many Voices One World by (UNESCO in 1980). This work is the most comprehensive study of development and it led to hundreds of surveys and studies of development and communication in a number of countries including India. However, the economic position of the poor of the world remained much the same.

    Henceforth, more global changes about the concepts of development came, particularly after the fall of the Soviet Union towards the end of the last century. With globalization, it is hoped that the market economy will be further strengthened and that sections of the world that were poor and backward in the past centuries could be lifted from their state of deprivation to that of need fulfilment, at least for the majority. It is expected that things will improve and by the year 2012 or the latest by 2020, conditions of poverty will vanish and the world will become a better place for the poor. At least this is the hope of the United Nations that evolved the Millennium Development Goals in 2005.

    The example of China's introduction of market economy and her fast growth is hailed from all sides and there may be much to celebrate about China's development. But we ought to be well aware of the problems faced by half of our population in India instead of praising other countries blindly. There have been repeated misreadings of development in India. From time to time we hear a lot about the great achievements of one industrial house or another. A Tata may acquire a global steel plant such as Corus, a Mittal may be the wealthiest individual in the whole world. Bill Gates may be pushed back in worth measured in billions of dollars by an Ambani. Infosys and Wipro may win contracts all over the world. Other countries may outsource a lot of their work to Indians. All these are pieces of great news but they cannot be equated to development news.

    Development communication will become meaningful only when the lowliest of low segments of the Indian population is able to meet its direst of needs that happen to be the most basic needs of any human being on the face of the earth: two nutritious square meals a day throughout the year, 20 metres of clothing, a puccadwelling that could withstand the onslaughts of the wind and the weather. If a nation cannot afford to meet these basic needs of its citizens even after 60 years of planning, there is some basic flaw in our planning—especially in our thinking and priorities.

    Basic personal needs such as these can reach the stage of sustenance only with the fulfilment of socio-economic needs such as steady, year-round employment, primary health-care and maintenance, education that helps people to know their place in the world, their own dignity as human beings and the worth of all lives; and above all, the freedom to express one's thoughts and live in harmony with others and with nature. These primary, secondary and tertiary needs are basic to all human beings and fulfilment of those needs is of paramount importance in any society. Those societies that have met these needs for the majority of their people are certainly developed societies, good societies. They are essentially not those societies where one-fourth of the people enjoy the fruits of scientific progress and global development of comforts and the remaining three-fourths wallow in dirt and misery, poverty, ill health and ignorance and curse themselves and their Creator for their Fate.

    Despite 8–9 per cent growth in India, the country is still a poverty-stricken place and poverty is the most serious problem faced by Indians and by humankind. The majority of her people are poor despite measuring poverty by any yardstick. Otherwise, on 19 December 2007 Dr Manmohan Singh would not have warned, those who attended the National Development Council (NDC), the supreme body engaged in the planning and execution of national development attended by the Chief Ministers of all the states of India and the planners and officials in charge of the execution of the 11th Five-Year Plan, that the availability of basic food items and their prices would come under increasing pressure and that ‘India could be affected by the clouds on the global financial market’ in the near future.

    The 11th Plan, he said:

    … is a plan for the poor. Its focus is on the most marginalized sections of the society. The goal is to invest in our people in order to enable them to become active participants in the economic growth processes. The Plan does not attempt to divide the people on the basis of caste, creed, religion or gender.

    The Prime Minister also said:

    I will be failing in my duty if I do not draw your attention to the impending problem of food security, global trends in food production and prices and our patterns of consumption are going to put increasing pressure on both the availability and prices of basic food items.

    In the same breath, the Prime Minister assured his audience that the 11th Plan would succeed in achieving the targeted 10 per cent growth by the terminal year (2012), although he cautioned his listeners about the negatives of global development.

    Growth and Development—are they the same? Does Growth mean Development?

    This book raises these questions after reviewing the history of Development and Development Communication for the past four decades. It takes up the question of the practice of Development Communication seriously and devotes one whole chapter to it. In the process it reviews most of the important past works relating to economic growth and development.

    The book also deals with the concept of globalization, reviewing the remarks made by global scholars such as Jagdish Bhagwati, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz. Whatever helps in making poverty a subject of history is applauded by the book in the sincere hope that with the implementation of the new market ideas the world will become a better place to live in for the majority of the humanity.

    The inadequacies of subsidies to the poor, the weakness and the inadequacy of the power sector, the serious rural–urban divide, the regional disparities and the poor quality and facilities for education in rural areas, the quality of health service and the infrastructure in rural areas, still force the rural people to migrate to distant urban areas. There they somehow find some job and maintain themselves and in the process they make their own and their urban hosts’ lives most miserable.

    Dick Wilson (1998) refers to the high priority given or not given to development agenda in the media in the 1980s. It reminds us that the priorities highlighted by the Prime Minister at the NDC meeting recently are much the same as they were in the past decades.

    The Finance Minister of India, Shri P. Chidambaram strongly advocated the dismantling of the old hierarchy of caste that pervaded every aspect of economic activity. It is evident from the remarks of both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister that history is too much with us despite our attempt at globalization. Equally important are land reforms without displacement of people and quick job generation for the majority. These issues continue to remain the highest priorities for development. As one of the Chief Ministers said soon after the NDC meeting, the 11th Plan has ignored job generation; other Chief Ministers have their own grievances, all of which relate to essential ingredients of economic development discussed in this book. The media have to give special priority to these aspects of development. Are they really doing it now?

    This question is examined through empirical research in the last chapter of the book. The readers can draw their own conclusions from the scientific analysis of the contents of two English newspapers and five Malayalam ones for a period of seven months, December 2006 to June 2007, given in this book.1

    A comprehensive Bibliography on development in India, particularly in relation to concepts of development reviewed in the book from the 1950s is given at the end of the book.

    It is hoped that this book will open the eyes of the media magnates and media workers to the priorities of Development Communication in the light of the views of great thinkers of the world who have spent much time and energy on the sociology, economics and communication of development.

    I must record my great appreciation for the help given by Annie J. Vilanilam, my partner in life for the past 50 years. She took full charge of the management of the house and all matters related to home economics, besides rendering technical help to the extent possible while organizing this work. I am also grateful to my daughter-in-law, Lulu, and grand-daughter Sheila for the timely technical help given. Thanks are due also to Ms R. Rajalakshmi for her excellent computer assistance for the last three years.

    This book is dedicated to two persons. First, Professor Dr John A. Lent of the School of Communications and Theater, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA. Professor Lent has been a source of inspiration for me during my Masters and PhD work at the Temple University and the University of Amsterdam. My PhD work was conducted under the supervision of the world famous communication scholar and sociologist, Professor Dr Denis McQuail, at that time Head of the Faculty of Mass Communication at Amsterdam. My distance education from the U.S. would not have been possible but for Professor Lent, an internationally well-known media researcher and professor who has spent many years in the field of Development Communication in countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Dr Lent's personal library at home is the repository of the best resources on Development Communication and it contains at the latest count about a 1,00,000 entries. Perhaps there is no such rich resource on Development Communication in any other part of the world.

    Second, this book is dedicated to a very well-known person in India who left us all rather suddenly on 17 December 2007. May I be permitted to recall the great encouragement given to me by that friend and well-wisher from SAGE. I had the opportunity of cultivating his acquaintance soon after my return from the U.S., in 1982. During all these 25 years I was fortunate enough to get his unstinted support in publishing five books through SAGE. He was not only a great editor but a brilliant entrepreneur, organizer and manager. He was a charming communicator with a deep and resonant voice and an unforgettable presence on India's television for many years. I also dedicate this humble work to the fond memory of Tejeshwar Singh, Managing Director of SAGE India for more than a quarter of a century, and later its Chairman.


    1. The five Malayalam newspapers in our study will follow the transliteration style as indicated below:

    (a) Des'aabhimani, (b) Kerala Kaumudi, (c) Maadhyamam, (d) Malayaal'a Manorama and (e) Maatrubhumi.

  • Appendices

    Appendix A: Basic Indicators of Development in Underdeveloped Societies: The Need for a New Approach among Communicators

    Rethinking development and its priorities is a necessity, particularly for development communicators who are conscientiously examining their changing roles. They must raise questions which can in turn lead to establishing basic indicators for development. Simultaneously new definitions of ‘development communication’ will emerge and become more operationally useful in the development process.

    ‘Development communication’ has been defined in different ways by economic development experts, sociologists and communication scholars. Since the terminology development journalism or development communication originated in Southeast Asia, the definitions given by the communication experts of this region have gained some credibility among academics throughout Asia. Definitions also differ between different regions of the world depending upon the definer's point of view regarding development.

    A commonly used definition of development communication is the one given by Nora C. Quebral:

    Development communication is the art and science of human communication applied to the speedy transformation of a country from poverty to a dynamic state of economic growth that makes possible greater economic and social equality and the larger fulfilment of the human potential. (Quebral 1973)

    Earlier definitions took for granted that communication of information about development activities and opportunities, along with the diffusion of new modes of production, would raise levels of knowledge and participation in the development process. Quebral's definition served to correct that flaw, and the definition does raise a few pertinent questions:

    • How is the grand transformation from poverty to a dynamic state of growth to be brought about?
    • How does one operate with the inadequate concepts of economic growth?
    • Is mere economic growth enough?
    • Has there not been such growth in many developing countries during the past two decades and if yes, why is poverty continuing to trouble these nations?

    Most development scholars and practitioners agree beyond doubt that mere growth without equitable distribution is a curse rather than a blessing.

    The noble goals of greater socio-economic equality and fulfilment of human potential envisaged in Quebral's definition have somehow eluded people. The basic flaw in the approach to development based on economic growth is that it does not lay any special emphasis on the large segments of population which ought to benefit the most from such growth. Society in any country is not a monolithic, uniformly built edifice—it is a multi-tiered structure. Often the benefits of all plans and projects intended for its total growth, flow into sectors where the benefits of the past efforts at growth have already accumulated.

    The end result is that there is an increasing and widening social gap—the rich get richer and the poor become poorer. Undoubtedly privileged access to information leads to a knowledge gap, which can be directly attributed to communication—distribution systems that are economically and socially biased. This is described by Rogers in the second chapter of this volume in terms of the information-rich and the information-poor. It behoves us to examine the origins of this dilemma and the assumptions, raising questions which can lead to establishing basic indicators of development and to more meaningful definitions of ‘development communication’.

    Assumptions of Early Communication Approaches

    Early approaches to development communication stressed the inherent ability of the media of communication, interpersonal and mass, to bring about social change among those who lacked knowledge and skill. It was assumed that society was not changing because the large majority did not have the right kind of information to facilitate change. But the actual experience in many developing countries has been that simply disseminating targeted information through media (assuming that all media were eager to carry information regularly) does not in itself make people willing participants in the change process. It was also assumed that increased access to information would lead to greater participation in the political process and in turn, be beneficial to all sectors of the population. Greater media usage, which assumes adequate media infrastructures to reach illiterates, was expected to lead to greater economic growth for all.

    All early development models (upon which communication models rested) were basically the offspring of Rostow's (1960) theory of the stages of economic growth. The pioneering contributions of Lerner (1958), Schramm (1964) and Rogers and Svenning (1969) to the discussion of development among communication scholars were of immense importance in popularizing Rostow's concepts. They looked upon development as economic growth in stages, without emphasizing the need for structural changes in society, and without indicating which sectors of the population in a developing country should receive the attention of planners and communicators. These pioneers assumed that opportunities of growth were available to all and that the lack of information about opportunities was the stumbling block in the pathway of development. Opening up channels of communication, offering more and better designed information to people through a multimedia strategy would lead to the gradual following of development.

    Researchers from India like Dube (1967), Mishra (1972) Nair (1967) and Rao (1966) followed in the footsteps of communication scholars and economists who believed in the theory of economic growth as distinct from that of development. Researchers in other countries also did the same, for example, Deutschmann et al. (1968). Unfortunately, they did not offer new development communication alternatives, nor did they offer objective standards for measuring the effectiveness of development-related media messages and informative materials. In the absence of such standards, people in power, whether they were in government or in large media conglomerates, interpreted development communication from their own biased perspective. For example, some have equated it with charitable, philanthropic and human interest activities. Others have reduced it to the good deeds of government officials, that is, loan melas, Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), inauguration of bridges and buildings, and so on.

    Until now, the tendency among development communicators seems to be to look at development on an ad hoc basis. The larger questions, such as the examination of the fundamental philosophy of development planning, remain unaddressed or lost in discussions of the merits of individual projects and the effectiveness of project officials, or in mapping out strategies to be controlled by ones who have power. Although such discussions are at times essential for the benefit of educating the target populations on a specific development activity, the big picture of development is usually lost. Significant communication issues are simply not addressed.

    Problems for Development Communicators

    Development communicators are now challenged to find a proper answer to a basic question: Why do countries, which are richly endowed with raw materials, natural resources, huge numbers of young people yearning to work and several million potential customers for goods and services still continue in a state of poverty, illiteracy and ignorance?

    Statistics indicate that these underdeveloped countries have registered an annual rate of economic growth between 3 to 9 per cent. The percentage of people below the poverty line, they indicate, has come down from 40 per cent to 37 per cent (The Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of Kerala 1995). But how many millions have yet to find steady means of sustenance and self protection? Development communicators must take a fresh look at this state of affairs in development.

    Since the late 1970s we have heard that Man should be at the centre of all development plans. Man/woman is at the centre, but sometimes we get the impression that it is not the right man. Who, then, is the right man?

    He/she is the one who is supposed to be the beneficiary of all development efforts, but remains unemployed, unhealthy, hungry half-naked and unprotected from the weather.

    He/she is the one, who, with the information imparted by well-meaning communicators, that is, village-level workers, tries to hold his/her head high, demand more wages or claim ownership rights to government-allotted lands, but who gets beaten up, even killed, in encounters.

    He/she is the one whose hut is burned by organized goons employed by people who have been exploiting him/her as a bonded labourer.

    He/she is the one, who with kith and kin, is verbally or physically assaulted for the audacity of asking for the protection of fundamental rights.

    He is the one whose wife or daughter has to go miles and miles before they find a drop of drinking water or a twig of fuel for one daily meal, and while doing so is raped or killed in the jungle.

    Is this the person about whom we are concerned? Or, is it the person who complains about the lack of a refrigerator or air conditioner, about wooden seats in trains, or about cars without phones? Or, is it the person who compares his/her own lifestyle to that of friends in Europe, Canada, Japan or U.S.A.?

    That the earlier communication theorists have revised their notions about the role of communication in development in the light of their actual experiences in different parts of the world must be granted. However, basic indicators of development/underdevelopment are still needed in order to help media workers and communication scholars in poor countries to assess living status and determine the relevance of socio-economic and political conditions. The basic assumption is that all development communicators and development planners in poor countries are deeply interested in building a society where everyone has the right to at least meet their basic needs. Even to reach this minimum goal, fundamental changes are essential. What indicators will help the communicators to measure the progress toward the goal of fulfilling basic needs? It becomes necessary to identify obstacles to development, to rethink unlimited growth, and assess priorities in arriving at useful indicators.

    Obstacles to Development

    Development without fundamental changes in social structures is an impossibility. This has been clearly established over the past two decades. The realities in these poorer countries, despite huge investments in development projects, continue to be massive poverty, unemployment, mass migration from rural to urban areas, ill health and malnutrition, inadequacy in the availability of essential food items, relentless spread of public corruption and a huge failure in meeting the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

    Planners and the elite in some developing countries stress that the population explosion has contributed much to the failure of development plans. A short film why produced by the Films Division of India, emphasizes that despite more building activity in the country, millions go without shelter; despite more food production, millions go hungry; despite more production of cloth, millions remain inadequately clothed; and despite the growth in the number of schools, millions remain illiterate and uneducated. The film succeeds in highlighting the realities of the social situation in India, but it communicates the wrong answer to the right questions. It puts the entire blame on the so-called population explosion.

    Population explosion is not a recent phenomenon. Certain regions of the world have been overpopulated for many centuries for geographic, climatic, cultural, economic and military reasons. Mass migrations of people have taken place from some of those regions to vast virgin lands. Similar migrations from other regions have not occurred, again for political, military and economic reasons.

    Consider that colonialism has played the most vital role in structuring the modern world. The laissez-faire philosophy, backed by superior arms and technology, has acted as the mainspring of colonialism. The development of the world of today is lopsided mainly because of the might is right philosophy. National elites, for purely selfish reasons, have aided and abetted the global colonial restructuring of the world. Politically, many countries are independent today, but they are still tied to the international economic order based on laissez-faire, natural selection and survival of the fittest, and unlimited accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few.

    In short, what has happened in many poor countries over the past three development decades is an accumulation of wealth and comforts in certain sectors. Dissemination of economic, scientific and technological information in these countries has resulted in the betterment of life for these more fortunate sectors. As a result, there has not been an equitable distribution of the benefits of growth—a basic flaw in the growth model of the 1960s. The planners of growth put an implicit faith in the efficacy of the trickle-down theory. But what is actually happening is not a trickle-down but a torrent at the top. Distribution, then, is the prime desideratum of development—not mere economic growth and selective sector-control.

    Rethinking Unlimited Growth

    It is true that the United Nations de-emphasized the notion of unlimited growth in the early 1970s, following the inauguration of the Second Development Decade. The Club of Rome's seminal document, Limits to Growth in 1972 and similar predictions about the fast depletion of metals and minerals, made planners rethink the idea of unlimited growth. Some attempts were made to redefine development with emphasis on reduction of poverty, inequality and unemployment as the main goal of development.

    Todaro (1977), for example, defined development in a new light:

    Development must … be conceived as a multidimensional process involving major changes in social structures, popular attitudes and national institutions as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality and the eradication of absolute poverty. Development … must [be] … tuned to the diverse basic needs and desires of individuals and social groups.

    Fulfilment of the basic needs of the people of a country is essential not only for economic reasons but also for psychological reasons. According to Goulet (1971), there are three core components of development: life sustenance, self-esteem and freedom. All three components are equally important but the first, that is, life sustenance, is fundamental. Without the means of fulfilling primary needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health, education and employment, no human being can have self-esteem. To a person who is poor and has no self-esteem, freedom will have no meaning.

    Thus, development should mean identification of sectors of population which need help the most, and working toward the fulfilment of their basic needs. It should mean reorganization of society in order to produce goods and services required to meet those demands. For reaching these goals, administrative and structural changes are essential. Otherwise, the quality of life will improve only for certain sectors of society that are already in a better position.

    Unfortunately, many communicators in developing countries are oblivious to the real priorities of their own nations. They are blinded by the dazzle of development already achieved by the rich countries and long to catch up with them. Catching up with the so-called developed countries may also mean acquiring the capability to produce high-tech bombs, missiles, killer germs and equipment to fight Star Wars. Since the scientific, technological and economic activities of many of the developed countries are based on military development, does this mean that the poorer countries of the world pursue the same path of development, further extending a military mind-set?

    There are many serious questions to be pondered over in rethinking the limits and directions of growth.

    New Development Priorities

    What, then, ought to be the priorities of the poor countries? Naturally, the poor countries have to work to eliminate poverty. But how can that be achieved? Fulfilment of the basic needs of all the people of a given nation, irrespective of caste, creed, language, sex and religious beliefs, along with implementation of measures to achieve full employment for all able-bodied persons, should be the major priority.

    Two of the biggest problems faced by India and other developing countries are massive unemployment and mass migration of people from rural areas to urban areas. In order to solve these problems, there should be a combination of efforts in high (usually imported) and low (usually indigenous) technology industries in both urban and rural sectors. It is essential to give greater attention to low technology industries in rural sectors since majority of people live in these areas, and the rural employment potential is high in the low-technology industries. Heretofore, the trend has been to concentrate development efforts in urban and suburban sectors, promoting capital-and-machine-intensive, high-technology industries with limited manpower requirements.

    India has achieved great success in developing infrastructures for basic industries in both urban and some rural sectors. However, unemployment and migration from rural to urban sectors continue to be a vexing problem. Bombay, Calcutta and Madras—metropolitan cities that were developed as centres of British industrial and economic activities because of their seaports—continue to be magnets of attraction for the rural millions. With the introduction of partial industrialization and modernization by the British companies in mid-19th century, many indigenous industries in the rural sectors became weak, and villagers were forced to migrate to these port cities. This trend has continued ever since.

    When India enters the 21st century, substantial portions of the population will have aggregated in the cities, resulting in a breakdown of not only the municipal facilities, but also law and order, education, housing, health-care and environmental protection systems. It is predicted that there will even be a shortage of drinking water in both urban and rural areas (already true in many places). Deforestation will no doubt be an increasing environmental problem.

    The Green Revolution produced more grain particularly wheat and rice. The White Revolution raised the production of milk to unprecedented levels. But, in spite of this high production, per capita income and per capita consumption of food are still quite low. This raises questions such as:

    • How many people in this country consume sufficient quantities of food?
    • What is the per capita calorie intake?
    • Has such per capita consumption increased?
    • What is the per capita use of energy in our country?

    These questions are not easily answered and become of major concern as development issues need to be addressed. Clearly, new development priorities must focus squarely on these and other similar issues.

    New Questions Lead to New Indicators

    Development communicators can take initiative for raising these new questions. The answers will become data upon which basic indicators of development in underdeveloped societies can be based. Questions about factors that contribute to life sustenance are basic, but the answers will differ widely if answered on a regional or district level. For example, benefits of major development plans so far, have flowed to the metropolitan and other big cities and to that extent, the development statistics present a false picture. Excluding the already developed sectors from such statistics and calculations can provide a more realistic picture of the present situation, which would be helpful in devising strategies for future development in rural areas. This will require considerable resorting of the data in hand.

    When development communicators reshape their thinking and approaches while answering development questions, they will focus messages more on resolution of issues out of necessity. The need for indicators regarding food, shelter, clothing, employment, land reforms and health becomes obvious. These indicators could well centre around the key questions and discussions which follow.

    • What should be the minimum calorie intake of a person for a healthy living, beyond the subsistence level?
    • What is the actual per capita consumption in each district (excluding cities and large towns with populations over 1,00,000)?
    • What are the items of food available to the peasants, workers and the common people in every village of a district?
    • Do they eat wheat and rice, some condiments and spices?
    • Or, are they eating leafy vegetables and protein rich lentils?
    • How many of them eat at least two full meals a day?
    • Do they get eggs, fish and meat?
    • Do they get milk, especially for the children?
    • Are milk products available to and affordable by everyone?
    • What arrangements are being made in each district for procuring, storing and distributing various food items?
    • Are these safe and sound methods of preserving food for long periods?
    • Do people have access to pure drinking water nearby?
    • Do they have enough water-storing and water-distributing facilities?
    • How many families in the district have pucca houses?
    • How many live in slums, makeshift tin huts or on the pavements?
    • How many have houses with plumbing or drainage facilities?
    • How many of the houses have two rooms and a kitchen?
    • How many have latrines nearby?
    • How many can get safe drinking water on a regular basis?
    • Where is most of the construction of houses taking place?
    • Are construction materials available locally?
    • Is there a plan for using prefabricated, standardized materials and low-cost building materials for mass housing schemes?
    • Are there master plans for each district?
    • Are there different, well-planned zones in each district town, such as business zones, housing zones, shopping areas, animal farms, and so on?
    • How much cloth is required per person, per annum for personal apparel, bedding and other purposes at the district level?
    • How much modern textile clothing can be afforded by ordinary people, earning average wages and salaries?
    • How much of the cloth is hand-woven?
    • How many traditional weaving factories are there in a district or nearby district?
    • Can all the textile requirements of the district population be met by intra-district production?
    • How much fabric has to be procured from nearby districts?
    • Can full requirements be met by modern factory production?
    • Is it possible to make economical but elegant garments available to all the people of the district?

    Only after considering the primary necessities of food, clothing and shelter can we turn our attention to employment and other issues.


    It can be argued that without employment it is impossible to fulfil the first three basic needs; thus employment should receive primary attention as a starting point for development efforts. Ordinarily, a person without a job has to depend on the personal charity of relatives, friends or public welfare systems. Such assistance can last only for a short period and ultimately, a person must find something to do, using his/her skills or capabilities in an economically productive manner.

    As mentioned earlier, in India, the millions who eked out a living as conventional producers of goods in villages lost their jobs because of the partial industrialization of the country during the colonial period. Raw materials—primarily agricultural produce—were partially processed and exported. Finished goods were made in big cities in India or elsewhere. Traditional rural industries were adversely affected by this. Millions of labourers migrated to cities. Unfortunately, a majority of those who were lucky enough to find jobs rarely able to improve their own station in life or that of their families left behind in the villages. As a result, villagers became poorer over the decades and poverty became a way of life with the majority of Indians.

    It became quite clear that in order to improve their condition, villagers needed a village-based source of work; not all could be educated overnight and sent to the high-tech industries in urban areas. The fact remains that factories must be restored in rural districts in order to put the millions of currently idle hands to work productively. Through this alone, a spirit of hope, dignity and self-esteem can be re-instilled and renewed, injecting new vitality in rural life.

    Land Reforms

    Land reforms must be undertaken simultaneously. How many hectares of the district's land area are cultivable now? How many can be made cultivable through providing proper irrigation facilities? Who owns all the good land in the district—is it the cultivating farmers or the landlords?

    Land reform does not only mean redistribution of land among the landless, but also means providing the infrastructure for making the land more productive through supply of fertilizers, high yielding varieties of seeds and water. It also means the formation of district cooperatives for the efficient storage of the perishable and nonperishable produce and their distribution. How much of the wetlands (rice fields, etc.) are converted to dry land for construction? How does this indiscriminate conversion of land affect the food production?

    The entire population will, of necessity, have to change many attitudes about land ownership and land usage if equity is to become a reality.


    For the success of any land reform scheme, appropriate mass education is required. This makes educational reform inevitable. Development communicators will find themselves compelled to rethink their positions regarding the type of and dissemination of information. Information alone is not of much use to people who are not in a position to control their own destiny or make independent decisions about factors which affect their very existence. What good is agricultural information to a group of bonded labourers who are bound only to serve their masters, vanishing from the earth in debtful harness, leaving the legacy of bondage to their offspring?

    The new education policy of rural development must also serve the interests of the nation. For centuries, our youths attending school and college were being trained in a way that was more advantageous to personal growth than to social advancement. Grabbing educational opportunities for self-aggrandizement through bribery and fraud has become a common phenomenon, particularly among the upper echelons of society. This situation can change only when there is a fair distribution of higher education opportunities for the deserving oppressed.

    This raises other questions does education help people get jobs? If so, what is or should be the vocational content of our syllabi at various stages? How many people with higher degrees remain unemployed? Is there a need to separate degrees from jobs? Is there a need to emphasize certain skills in consonance with the actual needs of the district? For example, a coastal district may need people skilled in the fisheries technology, marine science, building of sea vessels, coconut-fibre processing, as well as a number of other such activities. In hill districts, changes in the curriculum of the schools should be consonant with the special needs of the hill people.

    Even though regional educational opportunities must be provided, there should also be a common core in curricula throughout the nation. This will provide students an opportunity for national mobility, thus, a wider range of employment alternatives.


    If the people of a district are fed, clothed and sheltered properly and if they have employment and education, health will not be a major problem as it is now in India. But more hospitals must be constructed, accompanied by the acquisition of more sophisticated equipment. More modern medical facilities are needed throughout the country along with higher standards for care.

    What are the commonly occurring diseases in our country? Why are so many people affected by blindness, for example? Many of the more frequently occurring diseases are caused by malnutrition and unhygienic conditions of living. Many other diseases are the result of unsafe working environments, and are related to work. Even in traditional occupations, chances of contracting occupational diseases are high. But the health of workers further worsens due to socio-economic factors such as low wages, lack of nourishing food, unhealthy housing, inadequate education, unhygienic surroundings, low self-esteem and a general sense of despair about the future.

    The media are devoting some attention to the low national standards of living and consequent ill health of workers and the general public. Unless sustained efforts are made to ascertain the depth of the problem district-wise, the planners and political leaders will continue to be satisfied with an occasional report on national health campaigns designed to eradicate some communicable diseases.

    If adequate food is made available to people along with a strong campaign for changing their eating habits and preferences, the grain content should be de-emphasized, and more stress laid on leafy and fresh vegetables, protein-rich legumes, vitaminized fruit juices, fruits and nuts, milk, low-priced milk products, eggs, meat and fish. If each district evolves a plan for providing such a balanced diet from its own resources and through a national system of distribution, the nation will enter the 21st century with a healthy and active population. The present trend is for the already well-fed people to become overfed, leading to additional diseases which need capital-intensive medical treatment. Thus, we are forced to emphasize curative medicine in the wealthy urban sectors of well-fed people at the cost of preventive medicine that can save millions of lives in the poverty-stricken rural sectors and small suburban towns. Instead, we ought to ask:

    • What is the proportion of doctors engaged in preventive medicine?
    • Is there a possibility of developing a cadre of paramedics from the educated unemployed to work in rural areas?
    • What incentives are provided for qualified allopathic doctors to work in rural areas?
    • What is the bed-patient ratio in urban and rural areas?

    In many metropolitan cities, one bed is shared by two or three strangers who come for treatment of different diseases. In many rural areas, one doctor has to deal with 200 to 250 out-patients in three hours, time. (Each patient thus gets 30 to 60 seconds attention!) It begs to be asked:

    • How many hospitals, clinics and dispensaries are needed for a district?
    • Is there a need for combining ayurvedic, siddha, yunani and homoeopathic systems with the allopathic system?
    • How many villages have safe drinking water?
    • How many have drainage systems?
    • How many of them are connected by proper roads to district medical headquarters?
    • How many villages have interconnecting road and transportation facilities?

    Obviously, such questions are unending. Recognizing the myriad questions is relevant if development communicators are to meet the issues of development head on.


    The number of industries in the high-technology sector, the quantum of multinational investment in them, the number of patents owned by foreign investors and the number of foreign collaborations must be taken into account by development planners:

    • Is such growth in the interests of the poor?
    • Will it help in fulfilling their basic needs?
    • Growth in the number of households that have imported gadgets and luxury items is another indicator. How many of such imports are essential to alleviate abject poverty of the millions?
    • Growth in the number of luxury apartments and five star hotels, posh restaurants and health and tourist resorts for the rest and recreation of the rich is also a consideration. Are these new facilities affordable by the average people, not to mention the millions of poor?
    • Is the gap between the lowest income and the highest income of the salaried class widening steadily?
    • Are wages and salaries received by the lower strata increasing sufficiently to meet the rising costs of living in different parts of the country?
    • Are employers sensitive and responsive to the human rights and needs of people in their employ?
    • Is there an integrated approach to family welfare and nutritional and health-care with more attention on preventive rather than curative medicine?
    • Are there enough primary schools and literacy promotion centres to meet the needs of the present and future population of children and adults?
    • Is media accessibility easy enough for ordinary people?
    • Are the media promoting lifestyles and buying habits that are affordable only by the rich?
    • Is the number of liquor stores and distilleries steadily increasing?
    • Does a medium promote the consumption of drugs and alcohol?
    • Are women portrayed as sex objects in the media, particularly on television and film?
    • Is the number of dowry deaths increasing?
    • Are dissenting voices suppressed by the use of force, and are instances of fake or real encounters between the powerful and energy-producing units and industries increasing?
    • Is the percentage Gross National Product spent on arms and ammunition registering a steady increase?
    • Is the number of tax evaders on the increase?
    • What is the number of pending cases in district courts, high courts and the Supreme Court?

    The questions are endless.

    Development communicators have to raise these questions because the measurement of development or underdevelopment can be realistic only on the basis of positive or negative responses to them. Responses will become the basic indicators of development or underdevelopment. Pondering over these questions can ultimately lead to a rethinking of development communications. Raising these questions in decision-making circles can become an important function of the communication arena of development.

    Redefinition of Development Communication

    More specific indicators of development will definitely have a bearing on the way development communicators define themselves and their function in future. While the Quebral definition remains a salient one, more recent definitions reflect the rethinking which has taken place over the past decade.

    According to Nair and White (1993b), new perspectives on development communication flow from the recognition that the increasingly accepted concept of participation can bring about a more people-centered rather than economy-centered focus to the process of development. They point out that with the changed emphasis on participatory rural development, the perspectives for development communication as well as the role of the development communicator, will adjust to accommodate that change out of necessity.

    These authors note that the definitions of development communication are many, ranging from simple as stated by A. Venkataraman that ‘development communication is primarily communication for planned change’ (cited in Nair and White 1993a) to elaborate, as that of A. Kulakow (ibid.) who defines it as ‘uses of media in the process of motivating, educating, and mobilizing a target population to respond to planned programs of change in health, education, agriculture, nutrition, family planning and other sectors of development.’ Nair and White (1993b) point out that, definitions of participation in the communication process are non-existent and offer an alternative definition:

    Participatory development communication is a two-way, dynamic interaction, between grass-roots receivers and the information source, mediated by development communicators, which facilitates participation of the target group in the process of development.

    This volume presents their views on the necessary re-conceptualization which is now needed. There is no doubt that communication scholars are conscientiously searching for a way out of the current dilemma. It is apparent that they are seeking to build a stronger role of the people who are affected by development decisions into the development process. Not only is it the relevance of the questions that the development communicators may raise, but also the relevance of the questions asked by the people that matters. Ultimately they will be shaping a more active role for themselves, not only in mapping alternatives, but in making choices among those alternatives. This, it appears, can increase the likelihood of ‘economic and social equality and the larger fulfillment of the human potential’ (1973) as promised by Quebral in the early 1970s.

    Appendix B: Development Communication Exercises

    Here we wish to highlight a few topics of relevance in development communication and under each topic give a general plan of communication that will motivate future communicators to prepare newspaper articles and audiovisual materials. The AICDA formula discussed in Chapter 4 is taken as a guide for preparing development communication materials.

    Exercise 1: Poverty is Still the Number One Priority for Development Globally

    Infinite and interminable rivers of eloquence have flown singing and murmuring on the inexhaustible theme of development, at least from the 1950s. Philosophers, sociologists, economists, historians and communication scientists, call them communicologists if you will, have dealt with the theme of global, national and local development. But world bodies such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have concluded recently that the removal of poverty is still the numero uno problem of development in the world, the nation or the village locality.

    A Definition for Development

    Let us start with a clear picture of what we mean by development. Development is a dynamic and comprehensive process, practically based on economic growth, not simply the growth of the Gross National Product (GNP), Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Per Capita Income (PCI) and other economic indicators. Individuals and families, clusters of families or communities have to cope with several kinds of socio-economic and cultural deprivations that affect their entire lives—food, clothing and shelter; unemployment and complete absence of any source of regular income; lack of literacy and education; ill health; oppression from other human beings who try to enslave them economically, socially, politically, psychologically and culturally; sufferings from social barriers that effectively wipe away their dignity as human beings; and above all absolute denial of basic human rights. The world around them changes but they receive the blows inflicted by those changes; social change for them usually means change for the worse and loss of everything. Unless planners, leaders and nation-builders make drastic structural changes to improve the condition of the poor through a vision that is inclusive, humanitarian, humane and just, poverty will never vanish.

    Human beings who suffer various inadequacies and indignities form at least 40 per cent of the world's population and the majority of them happen to be in what is described as the Third or Fourth World. Even when some people succeed in lifting themselves out of poverty, others fall into the trap of indebtedness, illnesses and indignities. Still others stay on in dire poverty. As one UN document said a decade ago, poverty is constantly being created and re-created. Will this system end?

    Poor people cope with a wide variety of misfortunes ‘which come not singly but in battalions’— from chikunguniya to HIV/AIDS; from earthquakes to tsunamis—and wipe off everything that they ever saved and everything that really mattered in their lives.

    The absolutely poor (whether in the old or the new millennium) always stay in poverty and hand it over to the succeeding generations. Socially disadvantaged too means chronically poor, weak and helpless. Images of the poor tied to the tail of motorbikes and dragged on roads paved with sharp-edged stones to the jeers of cheering, heartless crowds make us wonder why we forget that they are creatures just like us, and they bleed just the same way as we do when subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. Who are we to punish others without proper trial, taking law into our own hands?

    On top of all this there is gender discrimination among humans who are generally under male domination. Women are twice hungry, thrice illiterate and carry more burdens at home and at work! And they bear social and physical oppression and chauvinistic treatment from their own men with social approval. Children too suffer at the hands of their elders.

    Poverty may force parents to put children in hazardous job situations. Exploiting employers may pay poor wages to children and extract even free labour from them while keeping the able-bodied parents out of work. Gender, poverty and property rights are also inter-linked in most parts of rural South Asia, particularly India. And then there is the scourge of HIV/AIDS in most parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. Poverty worsens the tragic situation engendered by epidemics.

    Eradicating poverty through appropriate steps envisaged in the Millennium Development Goals is, no doubt, the primary goal of economists, politicians, sociologists, development thinkers and religious leaders of the 21st century. The need of the hour is a fresh look at poverty and development; only by destroying one, can we construct the other.

    Exercise 2: Poverty and its Alleviation

    Several UN Human Development Reports in the last decades of the 20th century and early years of the 21st have indicated that despite the remarkable and unprecedented progress in development efforts in the 20th century, poverty remains the biggest problem today, especially because of global pressures brought about by LPG (liberalization, privatization and globalization) in many poor countries such as India. There is incontrovertible evidence for the following:

    • About 1.3 billion people, that is, 130 crores of human beings live on an income of less than a dollar a day.
    • About 2.5 billion people (240 crores) live on an income of less than three dollars a day.
    • South Asia (mainly India) has the most number of people affected by human poverty as well as income poverty—some 515 million or 51.5 crores of people.
    • South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands have more than 95 crores of the total 130 crores of poor people in the world, that is, 73 per cent.
    • The remaining 27 per cent are in the sub-Saharan Africa, less developed areas in Latin America and in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), formerly part of the erstwhile Soviet Union.
    • In the industrialized countries of Europe, North America and Japan (ENAJ), 100 million or 10 crores of people live below the dollar-a-day income level but only 37 million of them (3.6 crores) are jobless, whereas more than half the poor in the Third and Fourth World are jobless. However, in this general picture of ENAJ, women and children, the old and the infirm, suffer the most.
    • The number of the jobless in the so-called developing countries is extremely large. In addition to the jobless, there are those who have some worthwhile job only during one-third of the year.
    • A man or a woman without anything to do in life feels dejected, hopeless and worthless. The psychological toll on them is heavier than their income poverty.
    • Joblessness and the consequent deprivation of income force many adult men, women and young adults to migrate to the urban areas from rural interior areas. They add to the municipal burden of small and big towns. Moreover, some of them (may be hundreds or thousands) enter the underworld of drug peddling, prostitution and other crimes.
    • A person with a job and income lives with dignity and honour.
    • Creation of jobs is a sine qua non of development. There are many millions of miles of roads to be built, thousands of rivers to be cleaned, dug and deepened and their banks strengthened. Wells, tanks, streams and fords have to be deepened and mangroves to be planted and maintained.
    • Millions of metres of clothing have to be manufactured in big textile factories or in small handloom centres to clothe millions of people, especially in rural areas, The condition of South Asian rural women making do with one single sari for a whole year as observed by Gandhiji during his nation-wide visits in the early decades of the 20th century still remains unchanged in many parts of modern India. The big stampede that killed dozens of women who jostled in Lucknow and Chennai for free saris distributed by some political parties a few years ago should serve as a reminder to all of us that many basic needs of several million people are still not fulfilled in India despite Indian scientists’ achievements in the air, space and under water. Where are our priorities of development? Poverty removal still remains India's most urgent development need.
    • Removal of poverty will become a reality only when new jobs in the industrial as well as agricultural sector are available—low technology jobs that can be done by persons without high education. Part of the employment generation should be directed towards the uneducated among the unemployed. It is easy for optimists to talk about revamping education and orienting it to IT and ITES. This can help only those who have some college or higher secondary education. But the large majority of the unemployed in India today are able-bodied youth without any education. Education was accorded no priority in the early years after Independence. It is the primary responsibility of planners in this era to provide avenues of employment for the rural youth without any higher type of education during those years.
    • Side by side with the expansion of agriculture, new agriculture-based industries based on low or appropriate technology have to be started, especially in the rural areas to absorb large armies of unemployed youth. New and improved tools have to be developed. Even coconut tree-climbing machines and such other devices have to be made on a large scale so that the drudgery of tree-climbers is lessened and labour is made more pleasant.
    • Politicians have to become practical problem-solvers instead of dream merchants, promising unreal things for the voters. Providing well-planned and well-built toilets for road users and the average homes in the countryside can be a billion–dollar industry; but many million people in India are not ashamed of abusing playgrounds and open public places for their personal comfort.
    • One important question we can raise is this—should children work instead of going to school? Should they waste away their childhood when their parents remain idle at home? What have Members of Parliament done so far to generate jobs for the millions instead of making occasional announcements in public meetings? This is also the time for Parliament to take stock of the achievements in the past 60 years as far as the general welfare of the people is concerned and also to declare practical plans to generate millions of jobs for the unemployed. People should vote only for those who have done something locally for alleviating poverty and generating jobs.

    In the Approach Paper to the 9th Five-Year Plan (1997–2002), it was said as follows:

    A sustained and long-lasting solution to the problem of poverty depends on the creation of adequate employment opportunities through a broad-based programme of development, especially since … unemployment rate for male workers has gone up in a significant manner.

    How true! But even though we are in the 11th Plan now, the priorities of the 9th Plan could not be fulfilled.

    There has been an overall decline in rural and urban poverty; but the Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS), Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY) have not yet succeeded in providing jobs to the jobless.

    The Panchayati Raj Institutions have to coordinate all the welfare projects launched from time to time with due attention on administrative reforms which alone can make the sanctioned amounts available to various authorities that have to implement the development work. Lapsing of sanctioned and budgeted money is a constant drawback of all development work. Well-thought-out plans come to nothing when bottlenecks of administrative practices make the implementation difficult and budgeted money gets lapsed, drowning the people and the planners in the pool of frustration.

    Everybody agrees that the following are priorities throughout India:

    • Safe drinking water
    • Availability of primary health services
    • Univerzalisation of primary education
    • Provision of public housing assistance to all shelterless families
    • Nutritional support to children
    • Connectivity of all villages and habitations by road or river
    • Strengthening of the public distribution system targeted to the poor

    To realize these seven priorities, many thousands or even millions of unemployed youth could be put in service. But why are state governments and the centre not able to achieve this primary goal?

    Poverty can be removed only through making idle hands active. We do not need mass communication all the time; we need communication by the masses. Poverty can be eradicated only through millions of active hands. As Gandhiji said: what we always need is not mass production but production by the masses (Young India, 1 June 1921, p. 2).

    Exercise 3: Excerpts from a UN document—Useful for Development Communication Media Project

    Here is the verbatim reproduction of the highlights of an article in the 1997 Human Development Report (HDR) of the United Nations Development Project (UNDP).

    Eradicating Poverty Worldwide—An Agenda for the 21st Century

    Many countries have succeeded in rapidly reducing several aspects of poverty. This makes inaction immoral.

    Eradicating poverty everywhere is more than a moral imperative and a commitment to human solidarity. It is a practical possibility—and in the long run an economic imperative for global prosperity. And because poverty is no longer inevitable, it should no longer be tolerated. The time has come to eradicate the worst aspects of human poverty in a decade or two—to create a world that is more humane, more stable, more just…

    Freedom from poverty has long been an international commitment and a human right. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated:

    Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.

    Progress and Challenges in Key Areas of Poverty Eradication

    Some of the specific goals set before global conferences—a synopsis of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):

    • By 2000, reach a life expectancy at birth of not less than 60 years in every country; by 2005, a life expectancy greater than 70 years and by 2015, life expectancy greater than 75 years.

    • By 2000, reduce under-five child mortality by a third from the 1990 level, or to 70 per 1,000 live births, whichever is less, and by 2015, to less than 45 per 1000 live births.

    • By 2000, reduce maternal mortality by half from the 1990 level, and by 2015, by another half.

    • By 2000, reduce severe and moderate malnutrition among children under age five by half from the 1990 level, giving special attention to the gender gap in nutrition.

    • By 2000, achieve universal access to high-quality and affordable primary health-care, removing all programme-related barriers to use of family planning by 2005. Eliminate polio, guinea-worm disease, iodine deficiency disorders and Vitamin A deficiency.

    • By 2000, achieve universal access to basic education and the completion of primary education by at least 80 per cent of primary-school age children, and by 2015, universal primary education in all countries.

    • By 2000, reduce adult illiteracy by at least half from its 1900 level; by 2005, close the gender gap in primary and secondary school education; and by 2020, reduce female illiteracy by at least half from its 1990 level.

    • Three priorities in primary school education—(a) most countries need to raise the quality of primary schooling with more resources needed for books and other learning materials and for improving the quality and pay of primary school teachers, (b) gender inequalities must be rapidly ended and policies adopted to offset the pressures hindering the enrolment and performance of girls, and (c) the international community needs to give stronger support to the poorest and least developed countries truly committed to the goal of education for all.

    • Reproductive health and family planning:

      • Institutions to safeguard women's rights and to promote women's empowerment to be established.
      • Increase the role and responsibility of men in family planning, parenting and reproductive health.
      • Integrate family planning with other aspects of reproductive health, emphasizing quality of care and meeting the needs of women and men.
      • Integrate population issues into sustainable development strategies.
      • Advocate vigorously the empowerment of women, reproductive rights and reproductive health for all.
      • Give special attention to the reproductive health information and service needs of youth and adolescents and other vulnerable and marginalized groups.
      • Prevent and control HIV/AIDS.
      • Develop new partnerships with NGOs, the private sector and civil society.
      • Mobilize resources for expanded and accelerated programme implementation.
    • Advances in access to water—access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for all is a basic need, important not only for health but also for household cleanliness and for saving time and back-breaking treks to water-holes especially for women. It is the basic input for change in the quality of life. In rural areas a major acceleration in the provision of water supplies is needed in all regions (except Southeast Asia and the Pacific) to achieve safe water for all by 2010.

    • Targeting gender inequality—the eradication of poverty requires equal opportunities and the full and equal participation of women and men as agents and beneficiaries of people-centred sustainable development. Today, there is severe shortfall in the number of seats for women in parliament. It is essential to eliminate discrimination against women—all forms of discrimination against women. Ratification has to be achieved in all countries. Female literacy rate is still low in many countries. Reduce maternal mortality (per 1,00,000 live births) at least halving the 1990 level of 471.

    • The worrying slow-down of nutrition—in developing countries about 160 million pre-school children are under-weight, a steady 50 per cent of all children. Of these about 85 million are in South Asia alone. The fall in malnutrition is too small and too slow. At the present rate, it would take 200 years to eradicate malnutrition in South Asia, Roughly one billion dollars a year would help in achieving significant progress ($ 2 to $ 10 a child per year).

    • Micro-credit for poor people—only 0.2 per cent of global commercial lending reaches the poorest billion, 20 per cent of the world's population. Micro-credit programmes now reach only about eight million very poor people in developing countries. The challenge is to create new structures or new and more flexible instruments to link micro-credit programmes with sources of funds, including the private sector.

    • Pro-poor growth needed—all countries need to set clear targets for reducing the incidence of income-poverty and most countries do not have a poverty line for income. Economic growth is necessary for reducing income poverty. The benefits of growth in many countries are not distributed. Instead, they accumulate in certain quarters. Reducing income poverty also requires expanding employment opportunities for the poorest. Growth should create jobs and increase in productivity and income of the poor.

    • The price tag for poverty eradication—in a world economy of $ 25 trillion, the argument that poverty eradication is not affordable is patently false.

      The additional cost of achieving basic social services for all in developing countries is estimated at about $40 billion a year over 10 years. This sum happens to be just 0.2 per cent of world income or 1 per cent if developing country income. (Equivalent to half the GNP share that the United States transferred each year to Europe during 1948–52 as part of the Marshall Plan for postwar reconstruction).

    • The 20: 20 Vision—what has dominated the global economic agenda? So far, trade, property rights, finance, financial stability and governance. What's off the radar?

    Poverty eradication; employment generation and the need for a long-term employment strategy; marginalization of the poorest and least developed countries, and the need to achieve a long-run balance in the global economy; the need for environmental sustainability in the global economy; five imperatives of global action: peace building and conflict prevention and resolution, reconstruction and poverty-reducing development in war-torn countries; stronger controls on arms sales and greater reductions in military spending; supportive international action in priority areas of health, nutrition, basic education, environmental protection and agricultural technology; more effective debt-relief; better focusing of aid on the least developed countries; and channeling of the peace dividend to poverty reduction and pro-poor growth.

    Despite declines in the past few years, nuclear stockpiles still have a destructive potential 700 times that of all the explosive power used in the 20th century's major wars. World military spending amounts to 1.75 times that in 1960—more than $ 1.5 million a minute. Achieve at least one-third reduction in military spending; spend more on human development.

    The 20:20 Initiative, first proposed in Human Development Report, (1992) was endorsed by subsequent World Summits for Social Development. Allocate at least 20 per cent of all budgets for essential social service, it urges all governments.

    No longer inevitable, poverty should be relegated to history along with slavery, colonialism and nuclear warfare.

    We have given on the foregoing pages write-ups that clarify concepts of development and enable development communicators to prepare programmes for various media—newspapers, radio and television. It is not necessary to prepare actual media production script because that is the work of script-writers and programme producers. The scope of this book is confined to conceptual matters. Chapter 4 and the write-ups given here are enough for our purpose.

    Appendix C: News Categories in the Alphabetical Order
    • Administrative Reforms: Making sanctioned/budgeted amount available for the executing officer on time and without unnecessary legalities and procedures; all procedures to be simplified in the interest of people; private–public cooperation; people's grievances about the lapsing of funds for want of imaginative office procedures; creation of better relations between the governors and the governed; Administrative Reforms Committee (ARC) recommendations.

    • Agricultural Development and Food Production: Farming; fertilizers, organic and inorganic; cattle, local and imported; animal husbandry; poultry; artificial insemination; seeds; improved methods of cultivation; agricultural tools and implements; mechanization of large farms; dairy development; increasing production of meat, fish, vegetables; horticulture; rice, wheat and other grains production; exports and imports of seeds, plants and fertilizers; coffee, tea and other plantations; import substitution; taxation; price increase and price reduction; farmers’ suicides.

    • Chess, Cricket and other Games and Sports: Victories, winning of awards, prizes, personalities; controversies; venues of future Olympics, Asian Games; and so on. Unusual events relating to sports personalities—Woolmer's death; Shanti's gender-testing after the event, and so on.

    • Crimes: Noida killings, notorious cases (for example, Manu Sharma case), corruption cases other than political personalities’ cases; police's anti-people actions; MPs’ and MLAs’ and public figures’ corruption cases; custodial deaths; police–people confrontations, female foeticide; amniocentesis, infanticide, and so on.

    • Cultural Matters: Arts/Youth festivals; religious festivals, and so on.

    • Dalits: Treatment by majority communities; SCs, STs and OBCs; the Gujjar agitation for ST status; Khairlanji; police brutality against Dalits; Constitutional guarantees; torture and ill-treatment of Dalits in Bihar and other places; conversion to Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and government's denial of benefits to such converted SCs and STs.

    • Education: Pre-primary (Nursery and Kindergarten admissions and donations; School bus accidents; safe arrangements for picnics and study tours; development and innovation at three levels; strikes in colleges and schools; quality improvement efforts; UGC and National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) activities; professional education for degrees and diplomas in medicine, engineering, nursing, physiotherapy, and so on; research in universities, colleges and institutes of higher learning; entrance tests and admission procedures; self-financing institutions and interactions with government on fees, number of seats, etc.; educational training institutes; training in job methods, tools and equipment for reducing drudgery, and labour saving devices; collaboration in education; adult literacy and library movement; vocational education; computers and computerization; internet; Information Technology (IT); Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan (SSA); DPEP; training of teachers; Gandhian concepts of education; education and employment.

      Business Process Outsourcing (BPO); Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO); Knowledge Commission; Futurology; special articles on future developments in science, technology, education and research; campus politics; politicization of teachers and administrators; teachers’ research contributions; awards; inventions and discoveries; ragging and related hooliganism.

    • Employment and Labour Welfare: Creation of jobs; the problem of the educated unemployed; job-degree de-linking; women's employment; part-time employment; the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS); workers’ welfare and protection; Provident Fund, Gratuity and other welfare measures such as Pension Schemes; workers’ health schemes; improvement of working conditions; diversion of a small percentage of profits for improving factory environment including approach roads and area's roads; workers’ housing; drainage and water supply schemes in the factory area; mechanization of traditional modes of production; occupational health and hygiene; industrial safety; night classes for workers; part-time educational opportunities for workers; workers’ recreational facilities; improvement of production, protection of labour laws; child labour.

    • Energy Issues, Environment and Ecology: Studies of the working and living environment of people; avoiding air, water and soil pollution; avoiding endosulfan and such other deadly carcinogenic pesticides and insecticides in the working and living environments of citizens; national power grid and river projects; power generation and energy sufficiency; making electricity available to all; tsunami detection and rehabilitation of tsunami victims. Forest preservation, global warming; tree planting; ‘My Tree’ project in schools, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and other energy development projects; alternative sources—wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear, and so on. Temperature/climate change; floods and droughts; rain water harvesting and conservation and storage of drinking water; rejuvenation of conventional sources of water such as domestic wells, streams, ponds and rivers.

    • Foreign News and Features: News with foreign datelines and features reproduced from foreign newspapers such as The Guardian of England and The New York Times and Washington Post of the U.S.; news and features about foreign scientists, politicians and other dignitaries; events involving NRIs and other Indians living and working in foreign countries; sanctions against Iran and other countries involved in nuclear projects; Corus takeover by Tatas. News relating to ASEAN, Israeli–Palestine/Middle East relations; LTTE, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), UNESCO; visits of foreign dignitaries to India and Indian dignitaries to foreign countries; internal and international peace initiatives and deliberations.

    • Globalization and Global Markets/Stock Exchanges/Share Markets: Conceptual matters; ADB; and other foreign aid, export/import liberalization; privatization of national industries and selling of profit-making firms in the public sector; FDI; multinational Indian and foreign companies and their activities; foreign collaborations; NY Stock Exchange, Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange; appreciation and depreciation of stocks; listing of Indian companies in stock markets abroad. Monopolies; inroads of giant MNCs into Indian retail trade patenting and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR); WTO, World Economic Forum (WEF), World Social Forum (WSF), Trade Agreements and conferences such as Doha; Cebu (Philippines); Uruguay Rounds, NAFTA, SAFTA, etc.

    • Governmental News: Cabinet meetings and Chief Minister's press conferences; changes in central and state governments and officers of government; defense, law and order; police and the people; district and local administration; foreign relations government committees; inaugurations and dedications; miscellaneous governmental activities such as government's decisions on specific issues such as helmet-wearing, etc.; proceedings of Parliament and Assembly, municipal corporations, panchayats; personal news about ministers and government officials; personnel changes, transfers, promotions, etc., new appointments; government's awards and prizes; tour programmes of PM, CM, ministers and government officials. Misappropriation and lapsing of funds; awards and prizes; VAT implementation; PM's pronouncements on Kashmir; India's foreign policy; Negotiations on Kashmir; Indo–Pak relations; Indo–Sri Lankan relations; Indian relations with SAARC and ASEAN countries; National Security Office activities; RAW, IB; Kutumbashree Units; Army, Navy, Air Force activities; PM's and CMs’ press conferences.

    • Health, Hygiene and Medical Care: Chikunguniya, mosquito menace, infant mortality in SAT; neonatal care, public health and hospital cleanliness; plastics and drainage clogging; new drugs and life-saving drugs; medical research; drinking water availability and distribution; rain water harvesting; rejuvenation of domestic wells and other conventional sources of water for drinking as well as irrigation purposes; different medical systems; and cultivation of medicinal plants. Polio and other diseases; epidemics, bird-flu, AIDS/HIV.

    • Housing: Housing for the masses; housing for the victims of natural disasters; housing for the displaced; housing for the elderly.

    • Human Interest Stories: Religious news, pilgrimages, accidents, disasters, earthquakes, weather, animals, pets, etc.

    • Iraqi Situation: American occupation; Saddam's and others’ trials and executions; violence in Baghdad and suburbs almost daily; peace initiatives by world leaders, Al Qaeda; Kurds, Weapons of Mass Destrution (WMD), etc.

    • Judiciary: News about the Chief Justice of India and other Justices; appointment of Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, celebrating the appointment of a Malayali Chief Justice, appointment of a Dalit Chief Justice, etc. controversy about the retired Chief Justice of India (CJI), Justice Y. K. Sabharwal; The Judiciary versus the Legislature; the Judiciary versus the Executive; Supreme Court's observation about corruption and corrupt officials; the Judiciary and the Media; Judicial activism; IX Schedule; application of Article 356 of the Constitution; courts’ orders.

    • Land Reforms and Land Acquisition: General comments about land ownership and distribution in India’ the need for land reforms in the development of agriculture; land acquired for dams; land acquired for automobile and other factories in Singur and other villages of West Bengal, Orissa and A.P., Naxalite movements and their relation to land; Trinamool Congress and land acquisition; Nandigram in West Bengal and the shooting there on opponents of land acquisition; agitations by Trinamool Congress and NBA for rehabilitation of displaced persons in areas acquired for the dam and for other development purposes; Mamata Banerji's fast; Medha Patkar's activities; Munnar evictions; tussle between CPI and CPI(M); Development, Displacement; Rehabilitation of the affected people; Marayur and other encroachments.

    • Mass Communication: News relating to conventional and new media; sociological and technological phenomenon of convergence; Knowledge Commission; Right to Information Act (RTI); freedom of the media and governments’ inroads into it; training media workers; and media education; notes on famous personalities such as Art Buchwald, Joseph Barbera and others. Human Interest stories; Internet; digitalization; technological developments; obscenity and pornography, media ethics, Film Festivals, Film Awards, Journalism/Media awards, freedom of expression; moral policing; 1857 Revolt (First War of Independence); wage boards; press commissions; Blogs; Internet; VIP news, etc.

    • Mullapperiyar and Other Dams in Kerala and in India: Conflict between Kerala and Tamil Nadu; Kaveri Tribunal; Centre's intervention; the rise in the water level and the threat of dam bursting; evacuation and rehabilitation of people residing on the banks of the Periyar and in the dam's vicinity; statements by ministers regarding new and old dams.

    • National Development: Conceptual and theoretical matters; Growth models; Growth versus Development; Budget 2007–08 in Kerala; the Central budget and Finance Minister's concept of development as growth; 9.4 per cent growth rate; comparison with China's growth; industrial development and agricultural development; National Commission on Farming.

      M. S. Swaminathan's concept of growth and development; Amartya Sen's views on development; President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam's concepts and his vision of India in 2020 A.D.; Planning Commission's views; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's views; farmers’ suicides in different states; review of the economy by National Economic Survey before the presentation of the Budget; State of the World as projected by the World Economic Forum consisting mainly of the G-8 nations; views of the World Social Forum pleading the case of the developing nations; comparison with rich developed nations. Low agricultural development of 2.4 per cent as against industrial and economic growth rate of 9 per cent, if not 9.4 per cent; exports and imports; inflation; revival of PSUs, selling of shares of profit-making PSUs; such as MUL; unemployment rate; micro-finance and Mohammad Yunus of Bangladesh; activities of ISRO; activities of the Atomic Energy Department and other science and technology institutions; achievements of great scientists; innovative ideas.

    • Nuclear Energy Development: Indo–US Nuclear Agreement (123 Agreement); the nuclear development programmes of Iran and North Korea; energy needs of India; alternative sources of energy—wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, etc.; Iran–Pakistan–India Gas Pipeline Project; methods of nuclear waste disposal; India's membership of the Security Council and India's energy future; National Security Guard's (NSG's) activities.

    • Political News: Election Campaigns; forecasts by media and actual results; inter-party conflicts; different political parties’ activities intra-party affairs; inter-state disputes; labour unions’ activities; pseudo-cultural organizations linked to political parties; quasi-political organizations such as students’ and teachers’ unions; strikes and protest rallies; dharnas and hartals; bandhs; birthday celebrations and festival participation of political leaders; United Liberated Front of Asom (ULFA) and Naxal activities; cases against politicians such as Lalu Prasad Yadav, Shibu Soren and others, freedom fighters’ pension; corruption of MPs and MLAs.

    • Reservation: Issues related to jobs and educational opportunities (other than Gujjars’ agitation); High court's and Supreme Court's judgements; reservations in PSUs and multinationals; Reservations in colleges, schools, IITs, IIMs, etc.

    • Sachar Committee Report: On the backwardness of Muslims and remedial measures; BJP's views on the Report; PM's statements; CPI/CPI(M)'s statements; concrete steps for implementing the recommendations in the Report.

    • Social Reforms: Fight against social evils such as dowry system; wedding extravaganza; discrimination against the female of the species both at home and in public situations; prostitution rackets; women trapping girls and boys; juvenile delinquency; religious bigotry; superstitious practices; prison reforms; civil rights; human rights violations; activities of the PUCL, Amnesty International, etc.; temple entry at Guruvayoor, Puri and other places; ‘Punyaham’ debate; untouchability; animal rights activism; discrimination against Dalits, Adivaasies, STs and SCs; child marriages prohibition; religious news; superstitions; religious and sectarian conflicts; death penalty debates; Women's Day, Women's Reservation Bill, gender equality and discrimination; Dera Sucha Sauda vs Akalis; social injustice to various groups by the majority.

    • Telecommunication: Global communication companies; TRAI; mobile phones promotion activities; world's richest men and their Telecom companies.

    • Terrorism: In India and generally in South Asia (mainly in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan); in the world, especially in Indonesia, Iran and Iraq, the UK and the U.S. Steps taken in different countries to prevent and eliminate terrorism; conceptual matters; attacks on places of worship, Assemblies and Parliament; Supreme Court and High Court (HC) judgements; Mumbai (1993), Coimbatore (1998), Hyderabad Mecca Masjid (2007) and Samjhauta Express (2007) and other explosions; state-sponsored terrorism in different parts of India; partiality against minorities; Kashmir militancy; Human Rights issues; Tehelka tapes; Sohrabuddin and his Beebi's murder by the Gujarat police.

    • Toilets: Provision of public toilets in all towns and villages; national and regional, local and domestic drainage systems; absence of toilets, a national shame; breeding ground for mosquitoes and chikunguniya as a national menace; periodic inspection and maintenance of toilets by the Public Health Department; courts’ strictures against spitting and other items of public nuisance.

    • Tourism: National, regional and local efforts; improvement of facilities; development of new tourism spots and maintenance of old ones; expansion of public conveniences in tourist spots and on the national and regional highways; upkeep of tourist spots including strict supervision of daily cleaning and maintenance; accommodation for staying in hotels and resorts and the strict codes of cleanliness; development of airports, railway stations and waterways in Kerala and India; development of seaports, especially in historically important places in different parts of India.

    Appendix D: Comprehensive Picture of News Content: Sampled Issues of Seven Newspapers

    Table 1: Newshole of Each Newspaper in Our Sample

    Table 2: Rank Order of Top 10 News Category Priorities—The Hindu

    Table 3: Rank Order of Top 10 News Category Priorities—The New Indian Express

    Table 4: Rank Order of Top 10 News Category Priorities—Des'aabhimani

    Table 5: Rank Order of Top 10 News Category Priorities—Kerala Kaumudi

    Table 6: Rank Order of Top 10 News Category Priorities—Maadhyamam

    Table 7: Rank Order of Top 10 News Category Priorities—Malayaal'a Manorama

    Table 8: Rank Order of Top 10 News Category Priorities—Maatrubhumi

    Table 9: Top 10 Ranks—The Total Picture


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    About the Author

    John V. Vilanilam is the former Head of the Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Kerala, Trivandrum where he also served as the Vice-Chancellor between 1992 and 1996. He is an expert in the field of Development and Development Communication, having authored numerous books including titles such as Reporting a Revolution: The Iranian Revolution and the NIICO Debate (1989), Science Communication and Development (1993), More Effective Communication: A Manual for Professionals (2000), Advertising Basics (2004) and Mass Communication in India: A Sociological Perspective (2005). Dr Vilanilam is an extremely prolific writer and has published articles in renowned journals such as Journalism Quarterly, Journal of Communication, Media Asia, Communicator, Media Culture, and Society, Gazette (Amsterdam) and several front-ranking newspapers and professional journals.

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