Special Correspondent

TAMBARAM: Development communication has to be seen as another aspect of media freedom and not a different species in itself, N. Ravi, Editor, The Hindu, said on Thursday.

He was delivering the valedictory address at a national symposium on ‘Development Communication: Practices and Dilemmas’ organised by Young Journalists Association and SRM School of Journalism and Mass Communication at SRM University in Kattankulathur. Development communication was most relevant to India especially during the present downturn when livelihood and development issues had come into sharp focus.

Despite its seriousness and value laden context, its social purpose and even a “certain dullness,” development communication in its essentials was not very different from traditional journalism, Mr. Ravi said.

Right to Information Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme were two major developments in the country. The RTI Act in many ways was the most significant act of Parliament in the area of freedom and transparency.

Regarding NREGS, the law also provided for transparency and audits involving civil society organisations in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan for instance, had shown that the scheme was successful overall, but had significant shortcomings in implementation that had to be remedied, he said.

Mr. Ravi pointed out that there was extensive coverage of deprivation issues, yet the media and the democratic system had not succeeded in “shaping public policy in a way that it addresses such issues with a sense of urgency.”

Inaugurating the symposium, Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director, India Today Group, predicted that AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and Mamta Banerjee of Trinamool Congress would play a key role in Indian politics this year, adding India’s future was “bright in the hands of women.” Stating that 2009 would be the year of women, he said these three leaders would be the power centres at the national level.

Papers were presented by journalists and academicians from all over India.

T.R. Pachamuthu and P. Sathyanarayanan, Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor respectively, actor Yuhi Sethu and R. Balasubramanian, Director, Faculty of Science and Humanities, were among others present on the occasion.