It is quite evident in the last few decades the mass media has become an integral part of our day to day life. With its growth and advance of technology, it has influenced to both individual and social life of human being. There was a time when traditional folk media was the medium of the mass. Then came telegraph and post office which were used for the personal and official purpose. After that, the main source of information was newspaper, magazines and television. Now people live their life along with the new media, the internet and smartphone. After the arrival of mass media, face to face personal contact in a community reduced. Mostly people started to spend most of their times with their smartphone and laptop within an isolated area. They may be consuming mass media manufactured message but they don’t have the accessibility of their own community information. This chapter is dedicated to this challenge of community communication in this 21st century.
Community Communication Drought: Consequences of Modern Lifestyle
There is an allegation that media manufactures messages to satisfy the interest of the political parties or business groups. On mass media and propaganda, Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky argues how “money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalise dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public.”(Herman & Chomsky, 2008, p.1)If it is true then people unnecessarily spend their valuable time only to think and act according to public relation planning of business houses and political parties. Here let’s discuss how people are addicted to mass media and its impact on community system.
Nowadays the impact of technological advancement and modernization is found everywhere including in villages and in all communities. These changes impact on the lifestyle and thinking process of people. People have become busier with their personal life. Most of the people have become busy with their work and in rest of the time, they spend before television. Mostly, the young generation is being addicted to smartphone and the internet. “The Ericsson Consumer Lab carried out a survey in April-June 2014 among 4000 smartphone users across 18 urban centres and report that on an average Indians spend three hours on their smartphones and around one-third of that time is spent on using apps.” (Science,2006, p.63)
People of village area are gradually going to town, cities and metros to earn their livelihood or for educational purpose. Some unemployed and ambitious people participate in village politics to fulfil their vested interest. In this situation, people interact with a limited number of people and spend their time in watching television but they could have exchanged their thought, emotion, idea, opinion and information with one another in the community.
As they don’t have any connecting link they could not unite to develop any idea or mechanism for the development of their community. Also, they fail to contribute collectively to the execution of any government policy. Policies are meant to fulfil the required need of the community at the same time it requires people’s involvement. People are well aware of their needs and problems but hardly get themselves connected with other members of that community for a solution. Most of the people spend their life within the radius of workstation, family and mass media. They watch entertainment program like serials, reality shows, movies and national news. They may talk about national politics, conflict or costume design of serial actress but they have no idea about their neighbour. As they are watching television and reading newspaper they may have excellence in their work and have enough knowledge about national and international issues but they are silent about their own community. They have almost no time for their community activity. They couldn’t participate in village socio- cultural activity which develops a communication gap among people. That is known as “community communication drought”.
Definition of Community Communication Draught(CCD)
Community communication draught (CCD) means a situation developed within a community when most of the people spend their maximum lifetime within an isolated area and with a limited number of people, instead of exchanging their thoughts, emotions, ideas, opinions, information with the other members of the community.
As a result of changing trends of mass media and socio-economic condition, community level of communication is being influenced and the necessary information about the community is not circulated properly. As people gradually get more isolated with their personal matter, they have a limited scope to communicate with other members of the society. They can’t share their emotion with others and cannot get help from other people of their community. They cannot gather in one place to discuss and formulate any developmental plan. This increases emotional and cultural gap among the people. They can’t rely on other people of their community. This communication gap leads to corruption, corrupted politics and mismanagement during execution of any policy. This is the main reason why most of the developing countries are unable to achieve their target of development.
Irrigation Model of Community Communication for CCD
Let us understand the community communication drought by taking an example of rice field. Due to lack of proper irrigation, water cannot flow in the entire field properly. That causes dryness in a large portion of the field and some other portion submerges under excess water. Due to excess water, crop of that portion of the field get destroyed and in the other part due to lack of water crop cannot grow properly and leads to drought.
As in the paddy field, so in our society. In the late 20th-century flow of information, ideas and emotion among people of a community gradually got reduced. Primitive communication mechanism like ‘gramatungi’ (one of the community gathering place of Indian villages) is losing its identity. Traditional festivals, cultural and community activities play a vital role to connect people of the own community but these systems are also struggling for their identity in this 21st century. There is no time for anyone to discuss village developmental activities or other problems in gramatungi or grama sabha. Some people make themselves updated on national and international issues from television and newspaper but they have no time or scope to know the events of their own community. As mismanagement of irrigation leads to drought situation in the paddy field so in community lack of internal communication system causes community communication drought. Due to which people are unable to taste the fruits of development. This is a great challenge before the objective of development.
The community communication problem can be simulated by a model (see Fig 1&2) for a better explanation to understand communication drought of a community. We name this model as Irrigation model of community communication because it gives a clear picture of a communication problem and its solution in an irrigation pattern (of a field) in the community.
Components of Irrigation Model of Community Communication
- Water: – Information, ideas, money
- Plant: – people of the community
- Crop Field: – community
- Sun: – National media
- Sprinkler: -Community media
- Flow of water: – communication
Explanation of model
The term communication may have different meaning and definition, but the central idea is a process of increased commonality or sharing between the participant, on the basis of sending and receiving the message. (McQuail Denis, 2012) As per Denis McQuails, central objective of communication is to increase commonality among the participants (people). Therefore, for effective communication, it is essential to increase commonality or transparency among the members of a community. The given model explains the cause of communication gap among the people and its consequences.
- In this model, water represents the necessary information, ideas, money and wealth of a community. As water in the field is essential for the growth of plants, like that in a community information, idea and wealth are some of the essential elements for the growth and development of that community. As the proper distribution of water is essential for a better result from the field, so in a community, exchange of information is also essential for the harmonic development of the community.
- Plant of a field represents the member of the community. Like plant needs water, community needs information for its healthy sustenance.
- Crop Field represents the community. As the field needs proper irrigation and weather condition so does the community always needs an interactive environment or condition for its development.
- Sun represents the national media (big media house). “Green leaves make their food by the process of photosynthesis using carbon dioxide and water in the presence of sunlight.” (Kutty, 2014) Like that the main source of informant is national media.
- Like sunlight, water is also equally important for the growth of a plant. Similarly, in a community interpersonal communication is as important as consuming content of national media.
- Sprinkler or any irrigation mechanism represents the community communication system like ‘grama tungi’, community television, radio and web portal.
- Finally, the flow of water stands for communication. As the flow of water helps to carry essential nutrients for the plants, so in a community, internal communication system helps to carry information and exchange of idea for the mutual benefit.
Proper communication helps in equal distribution or sharing of information (like water in crop field) and helps to all the individuals to involve in the collective growth of the community.
When there were no mass media mostly people were dependent on traditional media. These media used to act as community information sprinkler. These media used to help to connect all the members of the community. They used to work collectively in the community. Traditional communication practice can be understood with the help of Fig: 3. Here one limitation was the lack of mass media. Due to which people were unable to get information about the external world. There was a harmony in the traditional community but due to lack of external information, they were unable to march with the healthy change of the external world.
Limitation of national mass communication system to tackle CCD
National media has its own limitation of time and space. They have to focus on the entire nation. They are busy with national politics, crime, conflicts, cinema, sports, overall national policy and international affairs. They have less scope to cover a Panchayat meeting, local “Tabala” talent or village football tournament. They don’t have space or time to discuss the problems of a particular community. They are not ready to take the opinion of a village farmer, youth, primary school student or 80-year-old uncle to understand their problems. Even national media may give space for a village, mohalla, but that will be so limited to just some few out of thousands of problems. National media can only show a small portion of the problem like tip of the iceberg. If someone requests to the local reporter to cover their village problem, the reporter shows his/her hesitation to cover the story because they may already have 2 or 3 different news story. Sometimes these types of community news remain in a queue for a long time too on-air in television. Therefore, it takes the time or has a less chance to draw the attention of authority on ground issues.
The stories which are very important for a village may not be a big issue for national media. The matter which we should discuss in our village level may not be a debatable topic in prime time show. Live phone-in program on the national channel may not be helpful for everyone. All can’t take the chance to talk with expert due to many problems. So it’s a big question that from where people could clarify their doubt? From where they will get their desired information? Where can they raise their proper voice? How can local talents express their talent? As per (Herman &Chomsky, 2008, P2) following five filters decide and shape the media contents of the big media houses. They are “(1) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; (2) advertising as the primary income source of the mass media; (3) the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and “experts” funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; (4) “flak” as a means of disciplining the media; and (5) “anticommunism” as a national religion and control mechanism.” As there are so many limitations national media can’t fulfil communication need of a community. It can’t become the voice of all villagers or can’t be a platform for a small community. There they can’t raise their issues. In national media, they can’t discuss their problem. National media can’t provide their all desired information.
Advance community communication for CCD
Till today countries like India is struggling to improve the standard of living of the people. Sinha (2012, P.28) noted that “rural development as a strategy to improve the socio-economic, cultural and political conditions of the rural people.” The government along with so many NGOs is working for the development of the nation. Government executes so many plans, programs and spends a huge amount of money but still today it is a dream for so many people to get their basic needs. Mismanagement, corruption, party politics, red-tapism have become threats to national development. 2011 census report says “out of the 121 crore Indians, 83.3 crores live in rural areas while 37.7 crores stay in urban areas.” (PTI. 2016). Rural development is the real development. Nowadays most of the social thinkers are giving importance to participatory development. From the ground level, people should participate to identify their problem and work for the solution. So it is essential to develop a mechanism or platform where everybody can connect with one another for a healthy community. In this situation, a country like India should think about the use of advance and available communication system to fight against CCD.
In this situation modern community communication (community TV, community radio and community portal) can become a ray of hope for them who have a dream for harmonic development, participatory democracy or who have any developmental plan to execute in their community. Advance Community communication (ACC) media (television, radio or web portal) may act as modern irrigation mechanism to strengthen community communication system. Through community medium like community television flow of information, sharing of idea and opinion can be possible. We can give new touch and new direction to the early community communication system. Through advance community communication, one can understand own community and own people. People can preserve own culture, art & literature, social value system and can direct them in a right direction for the betterment of their life and standard of living. Though there are so many hurdles to establish and to execute advance community communication but still, it is a better remedy to tackle CCD. Then the question arises which new media can they use for the community? How should they use it for a better result? How can traditional media walk on the track of new media? Are there any ethical challenges that the community communicators are going to face? All these issues will be addressed in the next chapter.