Communication is used for more than just passing on information from one person to another. It is often used as a tool to facilitate the participation of people in developmental activities. Such form of communication is known as development communication. According to Everett Rogers, “Development communication refers to the uses to which communication are put to further development.” It can thus be said to be an approach to communication which provides communities with the information they can use in bettering their lives. Development communication has two primary roles, i.e. Transforming role, as it steps social change in the direction of the hygiene taste of today’s generation in this competitive market and a socializing role by seeking to maintain some of the established values of the society. Media plays an important role in development communication through the circulation of knowledge, providing a forum for discussion of issues, teach ideas, skills for a better life and create a base of consensus for the stability of the state. From the early stages of the introduction of the media in India, various attempts were made to exploit their potential for development purposes. The history of development communication in India can be traced to 1940s when radio broadcast was done in different languages to promote development communication through various programmes, like—Programs for Rural Audience, Educational Programs and Family Welfare Programs. Today television in our country is also used as a medium for social education, a weapon against ignorance and awareness among the people, through is difference programs like Educational Television (ETV), Countrywide Classroom (CWC), Teleconferencing etc. Experiments in Satellite technology has been conducted in recent years to bring about social change and development. This has been done in the form of SITE Program and Kheda Communication Projects.
New Technologies have also been put to serious use for development communication. New technologies like mobile, website and internet are interactive in nature. Interactivity, instant feedback and persuasion capability are used to rope in common person into the process of development. Today the government has different websites and call centres that provide instant information or answers queries to questions of development.
Right from its inception, development communication has been pursued by all kinds of media, both traditional and new. However, sadly enough, it had been put into more theoretical use. Its possibilities, people’s change of demand and opportunities have not been used to its limit to get an overall success. Both the strength and weakness of the media and the
message and access of people to this medium should be considered to achieve success in the real sense and not only in pen and paper.
Daniel Lerner in 1958, while discussing the relation of development with that of any mass media said that the greater the communication facilities, the greater or even faster is modernization.
According to Wilbur Schramm, the role of media in development can be divided into three parts i.e.
- To inform
- To instruct and
- To participate.
To inform: for the development of the society, correct social, political and economic influence is the main criteria. This information should be both national and international. People should be aware of the areas or facts which hamper the development process.
To instruct: Mass literacy is an essential criterion for development. This is possible by imbibing basic skills among the people. Mass media plays an important role in this. Mass media can instruct people and educate them. Projects like Educational Television and Gyan Darshan are few such examples where media is used to instruct people, educate them and teach them basic skills. These basic skills help people to develop their standard of living.
To participate: Voluntary and steady participation of the citizen of the country is necessary for its overall development. Such participation is possible in a liberal society. Such awareness is possible through debate, conflict and discussion. Discussions and debate help people to know current issues, participate in the developmental programme and bring a change in the standard of living of the society.
Media in developing and underdeveloped countries strive to bring in developmental change, through its message to the mass. Mass media through interpretation, analysis and discussion point out the drawbacks of the society and core areas of development. The message should be such that it should create an urge for change and development among the common men. The media in its aim to developmental changes shall function as a decision-maker and teacher.
Given, the current media scenario, and the needs of the development sector, it is necessary for a development communicator to develop a regulatory framework that shall under the umbrella of public service broadcasting include state-owned media as well as noncommercial broadcasting. This will encourage non-profit institutions such as community organizations, local bodies and NGOs to participate in development communication. Media education and literacy to create demand for better, need-based media stories and programmes are necessary. This is important to attract readers and viewers and to pass the development messages among the common mass, for which the programmes are undertaken.
Decentralisation and provision of training for communities are necessary for local broadcasting like community radio. Putting communication resources in the hands of the community is a way to achieve success in developmental projects with the use of mass-media. (Payel Sen Choudhury)