Monday, December 19, 2016

An Ear to the Ground

The Media and Communication sector, essentially has only one product - content. Content that touches the lives of people, affects the senses, invades privacy, content that becomes a part of our daily lives. Media products do not distinguish between, religion, caste, creed, status, or your geography or region. What we see on television is what the world sees. What we aspire for is what the world aspires for. And the products that we produce are for everyone's consumption. There are no geographical boundaries anymore.

I visited some remote villages in Maharashtra with my PGDM Media and Communication students for their Rural Immersion Program. The villages of Waghawale, Morni, Arav, Valvan and Chakdev are largely cut off from the rest of the world, especially in terms of transportation and mobile connectivity. There is just one bus that arrives in the evening and leaves in the morning. We found mobile connectivity in just 2 places, and that too with a poor signal. No newspapers are delivered to this entire area. The only relief is television, but the subscription to the services are not renewed regularly, because of lack of income.

This is where our future managers should look at. The rural India, which is getting rapidly urbanised is like a dormant volcano, waiting to erupt. The rumbling and tremors have started, and tomorrow's managers should have their ear to the ground to sense and detect them, to be able to deal with the massive demand for media products that is bound to flood the Indian media markets. 

The social, political and economic impact that this will cause will be highly disruptive in nature, and we simply must be ready to tackle it. Remember, media messages and content are polysemic in nature; even though they are same, their connotations are different.

 The visit was an eye-opener for our future managers. We are now formulating a strategy to help the people in this area create their own media, which will help them give a voice to their concern and aspirations. Our media management project will be a long term goal, cutting across multiple PGDM batches. It is exciting, because in most villages, we will have to start from scratch. The youth in the region have already flown the coop. We will be training school children, who, despite born in this digital era are not digital natives. But more of that in my next post.

Meanwhile, my students Media and Communication have their ears firmly on the ground.