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Webinar on Development Communication in India – Dr. Kuladhar Saikia

The chief guest Dr. Kuladhar Saikia started off defining developmental communication as a
process through which we facilitate the development mechanism. He pointed out the actual
stakeholders in the whole process of development communication. As per Dr. Saikia, a very
important aspect of developmental communication are the ‘people’, who act as the mediators,
such as the media people, the development agencies, developers, and beneficiaries.  He
enhanced the meaning of development by stating the example of the Global Hunger Index
Report. However, Dr. Saikia made a very good differentiation. He pointed out that
development is not just the schemes of the government and its communication. But those
taken and executed by the people and the community, matter more. Even if those are based
on government schemes. People’s engagement is the key point. He also put forward a key
message: your schemes do not make development unless they engage the people creatively.”
Furthermore, he focused on how development has to percolate down to reach out to the
grassroots and how community decisions play an important role. Until and unless we take the
community with us, we’ll not get the required developmental fruits. Saikia stressed certain
challenges and issues faced by a developmental communicator in the world. According to
him, research biases when we focus on people with digital connectivity only to understand
our society. The feedback mechanism is a very important element for a decentralized system
for participatory development where people are the main stakeholders of development.

Development communication has become a very important part of the whole sector of the
development process. Until and unless one allows two-way communication between the
developers and the participants in the development process, then development
communication is meaningless, says Dr. Saikia. Hence getting a clear picture of the

developmental scheme’s projects would be difficult. Saikia also raised an issue on how
uncertainty has engulfed the entire world because of the pandemic. Only because they can’t
have some futuristic look, the policymakers are facing a lot of problems. Thus, the
uncertainty which has gripped in is going to affect the development of communication a lot.
This pandemic has largely exposed us to a sort of heightened inequality. People living in hilly
terrains are devoid of good internet connections, let alone attending physical classes amidst
the pandemic. According to Dr. Saikia, trust deficit has become a substantial issue for
developmental communication. He also focused on trust-building and community-free
building as development progresses only when the community progresses through
community relationships. Developmental communication requires people to participate in a
holistic manner with people having mutual trust bonding with each other as well with the
people in the ground and the developmental communicators. Dr. Saikia brilliantly highlighted
how the agencies involved in communicating with different stakeholders should devise plan
and inclusive communication strategies to address concerns of people belonging to diverse
social and economic groups.

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