State of affairs at IIMC and the role of Information and Broadcasting Ministry
Ms Asha Swarup
Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC)
Secretary, Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting
Government of India
Subject-State of affairs at IIMC and the role of Information and Broadcasting Ministry
Dear Mrs Asha Swarup,
Although belated I on my own behalf and on behalf of ex-students of IIMC wish to congratulate you on assuming the office of Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and for officiating as the Chairperson of IIMC.
I wish to bring to your notice the sad fact that IIMC is rapidly losing its reputation due to so many factors. It is high time the institution is either turned into a University or is affiliated to a University to impart quality media education and to improve the quality of faculty members through better remuneration and better selection process.
Please allow me to call a spade a spade. The Outlook survey (Outlook magazine's June 11, 2007 edition) shows that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has failed to act. Despite informing the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology that "due to the limited manpower availability owing to vacancies in Research Department, the IIMC is pre-occupied with sponsored projects (work) which generates more income and resources with the result that the Institutes‘ own projects are delayed." The Ministry did so in July, 2006.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting informed the Parliamentary Committee that "Considering the fact that the IIMC is a centre of excellence in the field of communication, teaching, training and research and it aims to be a world class institute, the Committee are of the considered opinion that the Institute must be provided with the necessary infrastructure to carry out their assigned jobs in an effective manner."
It is astounding and highly unreasonable that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting having admitted shortage of manpower goes on to say that "it has been submitted that a post of Professor in the Research Department is lying vacant and a proposal has been referred to the Ministry under Annual Direct Recruitment Plan (ADRP), 2004 for approval of the Screening Committee." Is the Ministry referring to shortage of one Professor as shortage of manpower? Is it
this shortage which is coming in the way of IIMC becoming "a world class institute "?.
Besides there are have likes of private players like Mr N Ram and Mr Chandan Mitra representing both left and right political ideologies on the IIMC Society’s Executive Council and IIMC Society who own their own Journalism schools, therefore, they seem to have a manifest conflict of interest. It is obvious that they would be more keen to promote their own students rather than IIMCians. Mr Ram runs Asian College of Journalism, Chennai and Mr Mitra runs Pioneer Media School. These members have least interest apart from their commercial interest in taking note of the deterioration in faculty strength and quality of education being provided that is adversely impacting students training and their better placements.
The Outlook-Cfore college survey is a wake up call for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to set matters right at IIMC. It is high time IIMC is affiliated to a University and managed like educational institutions with better faculty and management instead of letting it deteriorate through its national pre-occupations. Why should IIMC suffer because the Ministry officials who officiate as office-bearers of IIMC do not give priority to the institute? These officials who seem to have no experience, expertise or training of running IIMC spare no time and energy to rectify the acts of omission and commission that is infesting IIMC today. The Ministry has not invested and devoted as much time, energy and money as behoves the stature of the institution. It seems to have pandered to the whims and fancies of political masters of all ilk in letting the standard of. IIMC suffer.
We sincerely hope that with your diverse experience you will set the functioning of IIMC in order and take the institution out of its frozen passivity and provide it the required nurturing so that IIMC can once again emerge as a purposeful academic institution.
We wish to apprise you with the following issues that are confronting IIMC with disease like crisis for quite some time with no one to diagnose and treat so that you can do the needful to stem the rot before it is too late:
Faculty: Faculty is core for any academic institution but at IIMC it has systematically been reduced to near Zero strength. IIMC faculty/academic staff strength was around 25 in 1983 when PG Diploma in Radio and TV Journalism and Hindi Journalism courses were not in existence. By applying same yardsticks the faculty strength should now be around 35-40 but it has been reduced to only 12. In fact faculty recruitment has not been done. Now an outrageous contract system has been introduced. Most of the faculty members appointed on contract have already left to join other places. And the remaining faculty members are always exploring greener pastures. To set matters right hiring quality faculty members with dignified fiscal incentives in tune with UGC standards is the crying need of IIMC.
Regular Appointment of IIMC Faculty instead of Contract System: The contract system is an attempt to tame, control and administer the faculty. No institution can grow and develop by weakening the core, which is the faculty. Contempt for teaching community is unlikely to serve the interests of IIMC. It is only the teaching community, which is subjected to the contractual system. IIMC recruited a registrar as regular appointment not contract. Basic entitlements like leave, PF contribution, gratuity, leave encashment, LTC, annual increments and medical cover as granted to the permanent IIMC faculty have been denied to faculty on contract.
In any case contract experiment in IIMC has failed to contribute to the interests of the students and to the individual growth of those who joined the Institute. Steps should be taken to rectify the situation. There are large number of grievances of the faculty and staff which has nothing to do with the Ministry and can be sorted out between Chairman and Director and at the most at the level of Institute’s Executive Council but it is regrettable that Chairman, IIMC has been kept dark on these vital issues that have deep bearing on the future of the Institute.
Need for full time Director of IIMC: A full time Director instead of current system of part time ones should be discontinued. The person who is assigned the task should have excelled in the field of media and academics. Key organs like office of Chairman, Director and Executive Council have been ad hoc and so dormant for quite long time that it has parlayed the IIMC.
Introduction of Masters Course: Upgrade the PG Diploma courses of Journalism to Masters courses with a multi-disciplinary approach that covers both rural and urban aspects of the political economy. It should have an inbuilt mechanism to ensure interface with institutions like legislatures and courts.
Affiliation with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU): This affiliation of IIMC would enable easy access and cross fertilization with its rich and diverse academic resources of JNU. It would provide sound material and intellectual basis for IIMC.
Introduction of Dynamic Course Modules & Workshops: In order to live upto the original mandate of IIMC to design effective education or communication processes that are essential in a society where scientific and technical developments are underway at a hitherto unimaginable pace so that the public opinion is not dictated by one way flow of information from the West. Incorporation of emerging issues of health, environment, labour, international trade and ethics besides positive and negative aspects of modern economic and political developments is a must. A vast world of integration awaits IIMC to bridge the gap between science, technology, development and society, which is the missing link in today's knowledge-based world.
Appoint a Point Person to deal with grievances at IIMC: In order to ensure transparency and accountability this would enable awareness about performing and non-performing human and material assets. Currently, a Public Grievances Cell is functioning in the Main Secretariat of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry headed by Ms Stuti Narain Kacker, Joint Secretary (Policy) who is Director, IIMC. In such a scenario, how does one represent the grievances? Is it natural justice? Given the fact that Ms Kacker is looking after three responsibilities, it is unfair to expect from her to devote as much time as is necessary.
Regular meeting of IIMC Executive Council, engagement with ex-students, launching IIMC quarterly newsletter, IIMC Website, IIMC journal online: To ensure internal and external communication within IIMC, IIMC Society, IIMC Executive Council and between the I&B Ministry and IIMC and the media professionals. The minutes of these meeting must be put in public domain. IIMC Society and IIMC Executive Council appears to be one of the most dormant bodies around despite the presence of big names in it. It should either be made active or it should be revamped. Regular meeting of IIMC Executive Council, engagement with ex-students, launching IIMC quarterly newsletter, updating IIMC Website, making IIMC journal online will make the institute vibrant.
In short, we wish that the following measures should be taken immediately:
* Upgrade the Journalism Course both in content and in terms of making it a Masters Course
* Status of all faculty posts being regular be kept intact, existing contractual system for faculty be discontinued immediately and present incumbents made permanent after review and the anomalies in salary should be immediately addressed
* Process of IIMC’s affiliation with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) [since IIMC is located in JNU campus] be initiated in right earnest
* Institute a mechanism to interact with IIMC Faculty Association, IIMC Old Students Association and IIMC Staff Association
* Make the IIMC’s website dynamic and up-to-date. IIMC website continues refer your predecessor as the Chairman, IIMC!
IIMC awaits your healing touch. We earnestly hope that during your tenure you would take some time out of your pressing engagements at the Ministry to rebuild this academic institution to match at least its previous stature.
Thanking you in anticipation
Mr Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, Minister of Information & Broadcasting
Mr Nikhil Kumar, Chairperson, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology
Ms Stuti Narain Kacker, Joint Secretary (P&A), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and Director, IIMC