The two day, National conference on Communication for Social change, Development and Empowerment in Rural India held on December 4-5 2017, was inaugurated on Monday in the KIIT School of Rural Management (KSRM), Kalinga Industrial Institute of Technology to be deemed University.

Welcoming the delegates from across the country, Prof L K Vaswani , Director, KIIT School of Rural Management said, “ We are happy to have such a scholarly rich conference. The Centre for Children Studies (CCS) was setup as an experiment with an academic institution in the country by UNICEF in the year 2011.” We have in the last five years conducted empirical and desk research on issues of women and children, with a special thrust on health, sanitation and education. We have also been able to influence policy inputs, as a result of our social research. He emphasized that our study on WASH in Health centres in high priority districts of Odisha, was the basis of this national conference. He welcomed all delegates bringing in rich experiences from different parts of the country to present their academic and empirical studies here, hoping that this Pan India effort could have a multifold effect.

Prof Hrushikesha Mohanty, Vice Chancellor of Kalinga Industrial Institute of Technology, to be deemed University, stressed on the need for specific communication strategy for different segments of population in India. “A single communication strategy cannot work in India, it needs to be pin pointed”, he said. He added that social distance, barriers to communication, lack of access are challengers for communicators in the country. Prof Mohanty said that, “Linkages can help in filling the communication void”. He added that although the means of communication have come a long way, from writings on the walls to social media, but media was losing its cutting edge. He also raised questions on the effectiveness of the excessive use of social media.

Conference Group Photo-Dec-2017

Prof HS Khatua, CEO, School of Mass Communication, KIIT University gave interesting insights of the rapid changes in the medium of communication tracing the journey from his childhood in rural Odisha to the changes in communication in the rural countryside today. He pointed out that we might have better infrastructure today but he lamented that we probably have disintegrated socially. He recalled the time when one had to wait for a day to get a newspaper in the village and the village had only one TV.

Prof G Ravindran, Department of Journalism and Communication, University of Madras gave an enlightened keynote address on Materialities of Communication Development and Social Change. He elaborated on the philosophical and anthropological perspective of materialities. He explained materialities of development and talked of the anti-narratives of development, linking the story of the rice gene and India’s development journey.

Dr Bidu Bhusan Dash, School of Mass Communication gave the vote of thanks. Delegates from states of Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi, Kerala, Assam, Telangana, Odisha, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu attended the conference and presented their papers.

The conference, a joint effort by the KIIT School of Rural Management (KSRM) and School of Mass Communication, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar was supported by UNICEF India.