By : Seram Neken
Development Communication is a modern concept indispensable to healthy democratic set-ups across the human society. Everyone realizes that the ruled and the rulers should be in constant touch in order to fulfill the principles of democracy. Then, what should be the smoothest bridge between the two poles ? It is the media, also known as the fourth estate of the nation, which is to serve as a link between the governed (people) and the governors (representatives). Media promotes understanding and involvement of people in the socio-economic changes and developmental activities taking place in a society. Media can well quicken the process of development. The more freedom and effectiveness media enjoys, the lesser will be the chaos and disorder in society which ultimately assist in development in all aspects. While trying to establish a rapport between the government and the people, government publicity must be utilized as a strong and effective tool by the information agencies of the establishment. Now at the fag end of the third edition of Shri Ibobi Singh regime, the state government seems slightly awakened as it has recently started acknowledging the importance of government publicity in the state. The credit goes to the state Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) which has recently launched an initiative to inform the people of the development activities of various government departments through a series of press conferences.
Since July 4 last, the state information directorate has begun organizing press conferences attended by heads of state government departments on daily basis at its premises at Moirangkhom, Imphal. It is indeed a laudable initiative on the part of the government to let the heads of departments speak out their achievements. On the basis of the information received via the media, the people can well judge the performance of the existing dispensation and the inherent gaps. People may now react and feed their comments back to the government through the media. Thus, the theory of development communication tends to apply in Manipur.
In this modern world, information has become the fourth basic necessity of life, others being food, clothing and shelter. The pace of human civilization becomes faster with up-to-date information reaching the eyes and ears of its inhabitants. The development of a nation can be gauged on the basis of the quantum of information flow to its people, the government and the various organizations. The need for accurate and timely information is felt most in the democratic form of government, where people have to take important decisions on governance so as to bring participatory democracy coupled with a responsive and responsible governance.
An effective two-way communication system is the foundation on which democracy is built up. Representative democracy has no meaning without effective media organizations. The power of the media in a modern state gives room for its privileges. Nature and quality of the government are manifested in the amount of freedom vested in the media. Likewise, the longevity of a certain government depends on the importance it pays on the media. A government may do lots of development works for its people. If such activities do not reach the eyes and ears of the people, the government will ever be portrayed as dormant. In the same way, if the government does not collect feedbacks from the people on its various activities, its popularity will be diminished. Media is in fact a bridge between the people and its representatives. As both the government and the people have faith in the media, any person or organization or government may take the due advantage to expose its activities.
The present government of Manipur has taken up a number of popular programmes and policies for its people during the last few years of its tenure. Numerous development projects have been taken, flagship programmes have been implemented. The government, via the various communication channels, needs to inform the people of such activities and collect feedbacks from them for future rectifications and further developmental actions. Hence, it may very well gain popularity, when it utilizes the available media judiciously. The government and political parties need not worry for huge election campaigns, whenever they resort to routine exposure through media. Election campaigns should not be limited to the few weeks or days ahead of polls. It must be throughout the year and throughout the period of governance.
Of late, the state government has now apparently realized the importance of media in reaching out to the people. Earlier the activities of the Publicity Department were limited to media coverage of functions, VIP visits, VIP’s press conferences and observances of national press day and Information days only. The department did not intend to take up effective measures to inform the people of its development policies and programmes. However, with recent improvements in the working of the Information and Publicity Department of state government, the information needs of the people will be catered to. The credit for the same will automatically go to the state government’s wisdom of appointing a media professional to head the department.