Yajna at 7 am and then a seminar on Rashtriya Patrakarita (national journalism) at one of the most prestigious schools of journalism, Indian Institute of Mass Communication has ruffled many alumni of the institute by organising a discussion in this manner.
The former students are apparently worried about the key speaker of the seminar, IPS officer SRP Kalluri, topic of the seminar and the way it has been organised.
Kalluri has been under fire by the human rights activists for alleged human rights violation in Dantewada. But somehow, the state government has consistently backed the officer and after much drama and confusion, he was removed from his post in February this year and attached to Police HQ Raipur.
The alumni of IIMC which is known for its progressive outlook and takes pride in producing many eminent journalists both in Hindi and English, finally have expressed their concern over the entire seminar.
In a letter signed by about 50 alumni, a fervent request has been made to the Director General of IIMC, KG Suresh, to withdraw the permission given to such a seminar. The seminar is being co hosted by IMC, Mediascan and Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (GSDS), Delhi. KG Suresh, himself has been a former Senior Fellow with New Delhi-based think tank Vivekananda International Foundation, a public policy think tank.
Here is the copy of the appeal made by alumni of the IIMC.
We, the former students of IIMC, are writing to you to express our concern over the Media Scan’s proposed seminar on ‘Rashtriya Patrakarita’, or national journalism.
The Telegraph in a report on May 17, 2017 has quoted you as saying that IIMC is not the organiser of the event, but has only rented the premises. The newspaper further quotes you as having told it, “We give our hall for the use of media persons who want to organise an event as long as it is not objectionable, communal, obscene or provocative. Renting the hall is expensive. If I want to help a media organisation, we have to become their partner. Our only support is to give the hall. The organising, selection of speakers, paying for snacks and all is up to them. Exams and classes are over and we have not asked students to attend. Also, Saturday is a holiday. Can I stop anyone from lighting a lamp or garlanding an image? The yagna won't be held in the hall…”
Sir, it feels good to know that the IIMC has come out in support of media seminars and hope it will be equally supportive to other such events in future. You have said that the selection of speakers for the event has not been made by the institute. However, we feel that IIMC must sit up and prevent any individual, known for his brazen contempt for journalists, from using the premises of IIMC which has produced hundreds of thousands of media professionals.
We are, of course, referring to former IG of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, Mr SRP Kalluri. Though we do not dispute any citizen’s right to speak on any issue of public importance from IIMC, we firmly believe IIMC should deny this right to the likes of Mr Kalluri who loves to hate the media and media persons for the only reason that they do what they are duty-bound to do.
Mr Kalluri, for instance, openly threatened a Hindustan Times journalist recently when he sought the then IG’s clarifications for a story. The IG is quoted in the newspaper’s November 14, 2016 report as having angrily blurted out, “Aap log aise karenge to hum aapko jaane hi nahi denge… Mere reference se aap gaye the… (If you all do like this, we will not let you visit… You went to Bastar with my reference).” Earlier, as the same news report says on record, the then IG had told the correspondent of the same newspaper, “You write whatever comes to your mind. We don’t care a damn….”
Should such a media-baiter IPS officer, who is also alleged to have hounded many journalists out of his region, be allowed to speak on the premises of a media institute of international repute?
Sir, we feel proud of having a veteran of journalism as the DG of our alma mater, and we take it as our right to request you to have a rethink on the issue, more so because the man has also been frequently accused of abusing human rights and has been admonished by the National Human Rights Commission for his excesses as a cop. One newspaper screamed the other day ‘Chhattisgarh Police raped and assaulted 16 women: NHRC’. This happened in Bijapur of Bastar which was helmed by Mr Kalluri as the IG.
Also, the theme Rashtriya Patrakarita sounds intriguing to us. What defines rashtriya journalism? Is asking questions from the State or doubting it not rashtriya? We were taught at IIMC that these two functions are fundamental to journalism, aren’t they? Has any media school in the world introduced this discourse in its curriculum? What is the origin of the term? None of our teachers, during our nine-month stint at IIMC, introduced us to the concept of ‘national journalism’. You taught editing to many a batch. We don’t remember even you using this term. Goes without saying, it goes against the scientific and information-driven journalism.
Your bid to wash your hands of the selection of speakers and theme notwithstanding, we believe that IIMC must have convinced itself of the righteousness of seminar’s message before allowing it to be held at IIMC and what impression is it going to leave in the national and international community.
A yagya is also part of the programme. You have clarified it will not be performed in the IIMC hall. But The Telegraph quotes Media Scan proprietor Ashish Kumar as saying that “The yagya will not be performed by a priest, but by one of us as organisers. What's wrong in it? Don't we light lamps and garland pictures at functions?”
We do believe that everyone is entitled to practise the faith of his/her choice. However, we also have firm belief in the IIMC’s vision which, as stated on its website, says, “The Indian Institute of Mass Communication will set global standards for media education… contributing to human development, empowerment and participatory democracy, anchored in pluralism….”
Such an activity of one particular religion on the institute’s premises is not in accordance with the pluralism the institute boasts of. It is, after all, not going to be an all-religion prayer meeting.
Sir, though we have passed out of the institute, our sense of belonging towards IIMC is very strong. That’s the reason we are writing to you. We are of the view that this seminar will dent the IIMC’s reputation, causing anguish and anger not only to its students but also to its alumni.
We most respectfully, therefore, beseech you to withdraw the permission given to the organisers of this seminar.