Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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Public Relations

Search for the definition of Public relations (PR) on google and you will learn that PR is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. It has its own dynamics and tools.

As a profession PR has been around for almost 100 years. While many believe that Edward Bernays invented PR profession in the 1920s, others point to Ivy Lee, who opened a “counselling office” in 1904. One of his first clients was the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In India the seeds of PR were sown in 1940s.  The then British Government used the term ‘public relations’ for the first time, in 1945.  House of TATA established a Public Relations division in their Bombay Head Office. That was the first PR department in the private sector.

PR as a profession evolved over time. The constructs of profession gradually took shape.

The First All India Public Relations Conference was organised in Delhi on 21 April 1968. The theme of the conference was ‘Professional Approach’. This was a very significant public relations meet in our country, when a professional approach was given to public relations (a change from publicity and information peddling through news media) besides adopting a Code of Ethics for PR profession. In fact that was the beginning of professional public relations in India. Since then this day is observed as National Public Relations Day.

Half a century later PR as a profession has travelled a long distance. It is now a recognised and respected profession that attract quite a number of students from elite institutions. Courses to reach PR have been iontroduced in many instituions and universities.

However, as perception mapping, managing and shaping has become easier, thanks to technology the profession of PR is facing a never-faced before challenge, which has an ethical underpinning.

Purpose of Journalism

My journalist friend Sandeep Sahu in his column raised questions about the objective and status of film journalism in Odisha. ((Read here: http://odishatv.in/…/why-no-one-heard-of-hello-arsi-before…/)

The context: A film made in Odisha titled ‘Hello Arsi’ recently won three National Awards. The film was hardly known in the State. The question Sandeep raised: was it not the duty of film journalists to inform the audience about this film? Was it not the duty of film journalism to highlight films with substance, films with aesthetic appeal, films that people should watch?  At a time when most of the Odia films are ‘cut-copy-paste’ version of Telugu, Tamil and Kannada films, shouldn’t Odia film journalism turn the attention of the viewers and the Industry towards an aesthetically pleasing and socially meaningful alternative?
Pertinent questions. Questions that make you stop and ponder over.
There could be rants and excuses, a barrage of blame-games and ‘tu-tu.mein-mein’, but the questions do stare at us.

And these questions are not only limited to film journalism in Odisha, not even to film journalism. It relate in general to the very purpose of journalism. Are present day Indian media becoming too personality and/or triviality-obsessed? Are media moving away from substance in the search of gloss? Are media moving away from the core issues concerning common people and becoming a circus of entertainers and/or platforms for advertisers or even worse ally of the high and mighty?

Build a Memorial

April 20th was the 104th birth anniversary of Gopinath Mohanty (1914-1991), one of the greatest Odia fiction writers after Fakir Mohan Senapati and definitely one of the best in the country to portray tribal life, culture and ethos. He was the winner of first ever Sahitya Academy Award for his novel Amrutara Santan and the first recipient of the Gnanpitha Award from Odisha for his epic novel, Manimatala.

As an Odisha Govt. administrative service officer he used to travel extensively in rural and tribal areas. He stayed for long time in Koraput, a tribal dominated district. It was here that he wrote many of his novels.

The house he used to live in Koraput- a Govt. one- still exists as a warehouse rented out to a private company.

Houses of legendary writers and artists should be preserved and memorials should be built there so that the posterity would know about their times and works. Celebrated Assamese writer Lakshminath Bezbaroa (1864-1938) used to live in Sambalpur, a Western Odisha town for a long time. His house was in a dilapidated condition. As the matter was reported in media Assam government took notice and requested Odisha government to preserve the house. Odisha Government took necessary steps and a memorial and cultural centre is being constructed there. Gopinath Mohanty’s house also should be preserved and made into a memorial.

It is our duty to preserve the past for two reasons: first so that future learns from the past; and second a sense of history is developed, which we sadly lack.

Tailpiece: Feeling

A Bank Manager goes to a restaurant with his family for dinner. The waiter comes and asks, what would you like to have Sir?

Bank Manager: What do you have?

Waiter: Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian?

Bank Manager: Non-Vegetarian.

Waiter: Chiken malai kofta, Chicken butter masala, Mutton Rogenjosh, Fish tikka…

Bank Manager: OK. Give us Chicken butter masala and Fish Tikka

Waiter: Nan or Kulcha or Rice, Sir?

Bank Manager: Butter nan.

Waiter: Water: regular or mineral?

Bank Manager: Mineral. And yes, Give us veg. malai kofa also.

Waiter: So Sir, your order stands- Nan, Chicken butter masala, Fish Tikka and Veg. Malai Kofta and Mineral Water…

Bank Manager: Yes. Fine. Get us the food quickly..

Waiter: But Sir, there is no food at our restaurant. Everything exhausted.

Bank Manager (Irritated): Then why were you wasting time in asking me so many questions?

Waiter: Sir I go every day to the ATM to withdraw cash. The machine asks me ten questions- pin number, savings or current account, amount to be withdrawn, etc. and then at last says: No Cash. Now can you understand how we feel at that time.

Bank Manager is in coma.

(Courtesy: Social Media)

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The author is a journalist turned media academician. He lives in Central Odisha town Dhenkanal. He also writes fiction.  English translation of his Odia novel Yamraj Number 5003 is being published shortly. [email protected]

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