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Article

The Cleaner, Happier, Healthier hygiene intervention was developed and tested in 2013, featuring the Sesame Workshop characters. Through broadcast television, four public service announcements (PSAs) addressed washing hands with soap, using a latrine, wearing sandals, and drinking clean water. The main audiences were young preschool children and their parents or guardians. Research occurred in Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria, exploring the reach and impact of these PSAs. Although low percentages, from well-drawn samples of extremely vulnerable populations in these countries, reported awareness and recall of these messages, such percentages can reflect large numbers of viewers. Considering data from the participating children, measures of knowledge and attitudes were associated with engaging in several of the behavioral outcomes. As well, awareness and recall of the PSA messages predicted “all the time” for several of the hygiene behaviors. In contrast, parents’ reports of PSA awareness and recall were not associated with reports of children’s hygiene behaviors. Conducting reach studies is extremely difficult, especially in developing countries and communities. Despite the challenges, this study is encouraging. Participants reported seeing the messages, and in several models, this “reach” predicted reports of hygiene and health behaviors. Lessons learned from this case study and research can offer valuable insight into the production of future health PSAs, especially with harder-to-reach populations.

Article

Kalyani Chadha and Sachin Arya

Since the late 1990s, the news media landscape in India has experienced widespread and arguably transformative shifts that are manifest in the explosive growth of media outlets and consumption at both national and regional levels. As of 2021, the country has over 100,000 registered periodicals and newspapers, with 17,000 dailies that report a combined circulation of over 240 million copies according to government data, as well as an estimated 400 news and current affairs channels and numerous news-related websites. Yet despite the existence of a seemingly dynamic and expansive news landscape, many observers have expressed significant concerns about the independence of the Fourth Estate in the world’s largest democracy. According to the annual World Press Freedom Index, compiled by the media watchdog group Reporters without Borders, India has experienced a steady decline in press freedom since 2015, slipping from a position of 135/180 in 2015 to 140/180 in 2019, and 142 in the 2020 report. At present, India ranks behind most of its neighbors, including Afghanistan (122), Bhutan (67), Nepal (112), and Sri Lanka (127). Thus, even though the writers of India’s constitution clearly recognized the right to the freedom of the press as an essential part of the freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, and this right has generally been upheld in court, the space for the free expression of views and critique by the press—widely recognized as crucial to democratic functioning—has been shrinking consistently in the Indian context due to a variety of threats ranging from physical violence and intimidation of journalists, and government pressure on news outlets to structural economic forces.

Article

Mass media are global and involve numerous and varied cultures whose customs, languages, beliefs, and arts are different. The differences require bridges for mutual understanding, and such bridges are offered as cross-cultural communication. The latter point raises a question of translation and interpretation, showing how cultures are suppressed, absorbed by other cultures, or how they survive. Historical examples will be provided to form basic canons for an understanding of cross-cultural interpretation. The analyses of interpretation suggest that cultures belong to civilizations with more fundamental and more encompassing structures, capable of providing frameworks for their own cultures. At this level, cultures become symbolic designs of a given civilization. With this turn, cross-cultural communication is shifted toward comparative civilizations and their capacity to offer more fundamental frameworks of cross-cultural communication. Moving through major theories of comparative civilization, the critical questions are as follows: Does a specific theory favor the structure of one civilization over others, and does it contain features that do not belong to other civilizations? In brief, do scholars of civilizations assume the concepts of their civilization and contextualize all other civilizations in one context? In spite of these questions, civilizations, by virtue of their cultures as symbolic designs, offer phenomena that allow the formation of basic rules available in all civilizations. By comparing such rules, it is possible to decipher the way that such rules form the communicative ground at the level of cultural symbolic designs as interpretations of the broader structures—civilizations.

Article

How can one sustain a conversation, let alone maintain effective communication, in a country whose residents speak numerous languages? India defies the conventional wisdom of the monolithic model of communication—one language, one nation—which views linguistic pluralism as problematic and counterintuitive. The monolingual mindset equates multingualism with linguistic, societal, and political fragmentation and, consequently, a serious threat to national unity and economic prosperity. Based on an in-depth study of language and communication in India, it is argued that such a narrow and unnatural mindset is outmoded. In particular, a reconceptualization of multilingual realities in India provides ample evidence in support of communication accommodation theory. The approach adopted to capture the dynamics of Indian multilingualism centers on the tools and mechanism of natural pluralism, which hold a key to intergroup and intercultural communication. Four linguistic networks of communication are described, following both the top-down and bottom-up approaches to multilingual communication. Additionally, it is revealed that three giant languages, the linguistic pillars of India—Sanskrit, Persian, and English—played, and continue to play, a central role in determining the salient feature of Indian multilingualism—its vitality and sustainability is achieved through diffusion of diverse languages and sociocultural contexts of communication. Additionally, literature and other forces, such as globalization (precolonial and postcolonial trade), powerful media and entertainment (e.g., Bollywood films and regional film media), internal migration, and education policies, among other factors, further strengthened the foundation of multilingualism and language accommodation. Various manifestations of multiple identities are described in the context of language naming and language reporting in the census. Finally, the salient linguistic and social contexts of Indian multilingualism are identified, while focusing on speakers’ language choices and language use grounded in individual/family, social, and political multilingualism, which ensured an uninterrupted tradition of plurilingualism. The complex interplay between bilingual verbal behavior—including language shifting and language mixing—with language attitudes and language rivalry is instructive in gaining insights into both language maintenance and language death. In that process, it is revealed that one of the salient features of Indian multilingualism is its natural and sustainable character, rather than a transient trend leading to language death. What is even more remarkable is that it is not imposed by language ideology and rigorous language planning by the government. To best characterize the multifaceted dimensions of multilingual communication in India, this chapter focuses on the contemporary and historical study of Indian languages and their spread in diasporic contexts, both intranational (e.g., from North to South India) and international. An attempt has also been made to uncover dimensions of multilingualism that have been neglected in the communication landscape of India (e.g., empowering of rural varieties of speech). For comparison and contrast purposes, other countries are also referred to.