Saturday, July 30, 2011

Media Professionals discouraged from teaching Media in India

Media Professionals discouraged from teaching Media in India
Syed Ali Mujtaba

There are some unpleasant developments talking place with regard to the appointments of teachers in the department of media studies. The University Grant Comission (UGC) has given some basic guidelines to the Universities to appointment faculty and this diktat is being implemented literally, without any logic or reasons attached.

The UGC guideline calls for basic degree in the relevant discipline, plus qualification of national education test, and a PhD to be eligibility for teaching position in a given discipline.

The UGC directive also obliquely mentions anyone who has proven excellence and ability in a given field of study can also be considered for teaching position in that field.

Now given the nature of Indian education system, where almost a rot has set up with very poor caliber teaching faculty, manning the departments, the first part of the UGC guideline is being rigorously being implemented and second part is over looked because the first one comes as a easy pretext to push out the professionals from getting into academic institutions.

This is gross injustice that is going on because any amount degrees and certificates can not be substituted for high degree of professional training in the relevant field of study.

As such there is definitely a requirement of high skilled professionals in the field of academia who can share knowledge with the young minds and mould them to become future professional, even they may not have relevant degree in that discipline.

A case has come to my light where a person who has 15 years of work experience in the media industry working with some top notch companies and also having six years of regular teaching experience in fairly recognized University, is being debarred from teaching position in the media discipline s because his basic degree in media studies.

This person has done masters in History, qualified NET in history and went on to do his M.Phil and PhD on a historical topic from South Asian Studies School of International relations. The time he was studying some 25 years ago, the media courses were unknown, and as such had little scope after study.

After finishing his studies this person chose career in journalism and spent about 15 yrs in that profession. He has won several awards and has shown high degree of excellence in the field of media studies. It’s because of his professional excellence; he was picked up by the University to teach that course.

In an ironical twist, after being six years in the teaching profession, now he is being debarred from teaching because he does not have basic degree in the media field.

This is ridiculous, because in the first place he was considered for teaching position on the strength of his expertise in media field and then one fine day he is Banglored, because he does not have basic degree. There is no weight given to his long work experience and his hard work over the years is simply discounted.

Now the predicament for this guy is he can not go and look for teaching position in history, a place where he was some 25 years ago and he drifted away because he could not find any opportunity there.

He cannot go to international relation because, its part of political science and he has his basic degree in history.

He can not go back to media industry even though he has 15 years of experience there because he has lost all contacts due to being engaged in teaching assignment for past six years. For him, it’s really a precarious situation, where to go.

I don't know why institutions are being fetish about the basic degree in the media field. We all know how degrees can be acquired in India and how research papers are written and published.

However, can they be substitute to professional experience and excellence in the field of study? Definitely not, and the person having good command over the discipline due to his professional experience is more suitable candidate for teaching then those having mere degree in that discipline.
This however is not happening in India and lines are being drawn to push out the media professionals to make way for sub standard teachers who hardly can make a sense of the complexities of the media world.

This is ludicrous because the UGC on one hand preaches to adopt multi- disciplinary approach to teaching and want inter disciplinary research to be encouraged. However when it comes to the framing rules it negates its own vision and mission.

A subject like media can not be handled in a narrow sense of term. It’s a multi disciplinary subject and requires people from all streams of education. Such people after having sufficient exposure in the field of media are well qualified to teach the subject.

It’s a sad commentary on the education system of the country that discounts professional experience and gives preference pieces of paper called relevant degrees.

I am sure there may be some window of opportunity for such high caliber persons teaching media The UGC guidelines may have some provision to accommodate such person and encourage them into teaching profession.

If that’s not the case, then I think it’s high time that the UGC may take into consideration proven media experience as basic qualification for teaching media courses.

I will be grateful if anyone who can throw some light on this issue and cite relevant rules of the UGC guideless that can help this person for teaching position in media studies.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

Friday, July 29, 2011

How to heal the wounds of Mumbai and Oslo killings

How to heal the wounds of Mumbai and Oslo killings
Syed Ali Mujtaba

We live in a strange world, devoid of love, hatred and insanity. There were e two incidents that happened in quick succession; one is the Mumbai blast and other Oslo killings, that gives the picture that we live in a strange world, a world that harps on make believe assumptions.

Its not even week when Mumbai was rocked by another series of bomb blasts, and then a lunatic open fires in Oslo killing scores of innocent people, both condemnable act in every term of words, but equally condemnable was the quick conclusion drawn of the suspects of both the incidents.

While the Mumbai attack was blamed on Indian Mujhadeen, Lasker -e -Toiba and Jaish- e- Mohammad, the usual Muslim suspects, the needle of suspicion for Oslo killings initially fell on the Islamist. However both the assumption went haywire.

There was not even a shred of evidence pertaining to the events linking it with the Islamists but the entire country was fed on the staple diet of the usual Muslim suspects. I was trying to look for balanced reportage but no TV channel had the audacity to report that the security forces can not correctly place the needle of suspicion on any exact group or groups and every one is innocent in the eyes of the law.

Contrary, each channel was going gung-ho hate mongering when it was moment of restraint. The vernacular television screens were louder in stoking the tempers against a particular community.

Now, when the heat and the dust of the blast has settled down, all the theories that were earlier circulated has come cropper, there is complete lull about all that has happened a while ago.

The Mumbai blasts have been a tragedy of innocent killings. Hate mongering the usual follow up of all channels was once again on display. Investigations have gone no further than catching the usual culprits, rounding them up and some calculated leaks from the investigators leading to no deductions.

Is it not all this sound strange? Anyway I leave this as food for thought and try to pick up the thread of the Oslo killings.

The moment this tragedy struck Norway, the first suspect was Al Qida. One report tried to make believe that it was Osama Bin Laden’s men who had gone on rampage to avenge the killing of its leader.

Another said that some Islamic radical dressed in mufti, created the mayhem. It was to protest Norway’s participation with NTO operations in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.

How simplest were the deductions, one wonders. Now, as the clouds have cleared and there is no Islamic angle to the killings and the truth is very different from all the assumptions being made, its time for introspection.

The Oslo killing is beyond expression. Innocent lives were lost. All those killed had no inkling what was that all about. A lunatic young man, with fascist ideas, full of hatred in his heart, imaginary or real which he himself is unable to explain went on rampage taking innocent lives.

This brings to the fundamental point, why the media is in a hurry to do the postmortem of such events. They seem to blame on what ever comes handy and are easy targets.

It’s a dangerous trend and not good for the consumption of civilized societies. In all humbleness there should be a protest to stop the muck that’s thrown around in the name responsible journalism.

Media may restraint from casting judgments and gradually figure out the actual reasons of the event gained through authentic sources and only then disseminate them to the public.

Another interesting observation that comes here is about Andres Behring Breilvik, the man who massacred many innocent souls and left over hundred severely wounded was classified as a lunatic. He was never branded as Christian terrorist even though he was a “devout Christian.”

This is because Christianity is associated with love and peace paradigm and no Christian may like their faith to be associated with terrorism.

So far Islam and terrorism has come to become synonymous and this opinion seems to rule the roost. Now terror is being connected to Christianity, then it’s hurting many devout Christians.

This happened in India a while ago, when the ugly face of Hindutva terror came to lime light. The Samjutha express blast, Mecca Masjid blast, Ajmer blast, Malegoan blast are all linked to Hindu terrorism. Now when this was getting established, then many devout Hindus are feeling hurt. They could not reconcile to the fact that Hinduism can be associated with terrorism.

What worries most is the manifesto of Breivik, which throws considerable light on the plans of the Hindutva radicalism. This has to be given a serious thought because this could possibly lead to a cane of worms and if not put in control may lead to certain disaster at a later stage,

The point I may like make is terrorism cannot be with a religion and to call a Christian terrorist or a Hindu terrorist hurts many devout Hindus and Christian, similarly, when its said that all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims, it definitely hurts ordinary Muslim.

Here, I may also like to add another fact that is that some Islamic radicals have rejoiced at the pain caused due to the killings in Oslo, calling it a divine justice for the pains suffered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. This again is a dangerous trend and has to be condemned in very harsh words. Such thinking can not be called as an act of civilization. It is sheer barbarism.

Another unfortunate trend these days apart from media there are other actors such as some politician, some judges who has a high standing in the society, do point fingers with no basis or logic. Their tone and tenure is full of hate and justification enough to be hauled up for inciting public, without any proof. Government on the other hand is unable to enforce its authority and book such people under the rule of law.

We watch all this with anguish and pain, and a particular community carries the burden of innumerable abuses and false allegations, along with the usual difficulties a common man faces in this turbulent world.

Both Mumbai and Oslo killings has brought huge pain and sufferings to the people who are victims of such terror. It’s a time where each of us should unite to fight such dastardly acts. This is done without any prejudices.

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule, said one of India’s iconic saint, Lord Buddha. Equally important is quote of another saint of India Hazrat Nizamuddin who says do not give me scissor as I do not like to cut, give me needle, as I like to stitch.

India has known to practice plural values for centuries. Barring a few fissures even that due to political biases, India boasts of its traditions unknown to any nation and cultures in the World.

At this point of time, the pain and sufferings of the victims cannot be healed by blaming someone; it can only be overcome through the resolve of acting as a needle to stitch the wounds of hate.

With deepest grief in memory of those who have lost their lives in Mumbai and Oslo and sharing of pain of their families, lets pray for global peace.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at