Posts Tagged ‘SIMC’

A student replies…

Posted: January 13, 2013 in journalism, students
Tags: ,

Reproducing the entire reply from Nandan Sharalaya, to my earlier blog post

Dear Sir,

I just thought I’ll share 4 thoughts with you on your latest blog post because you were on of my favorite teachers in SIMC without any doubt!!!!

So I just thought I’ll put in a few points but please don’t get me wrong at all. I was reading this really negative comment on the blog and because I hate being negative and personally believe there’s a solution to absolutely everything, I thought I’ll share with you 4 points as a personalized message and not leave it as a comment. Most of it I am guessing you are already following or completely get but I really wanted to help in some way. Forgive the typos!

1. In SIMC and Pune, the system is messed up genuinely. Not blaming the college, just the whole structure. I come from a very simple but very well to do middle class family in Bangalore. My dad was the M.D of Coke in West Africa so I lived all my life in Nigeria except 12th grade which I did in Chennai but we were always very into our culture and ethos etc. And I liked that so when I came to SIMC (young, simple guy) I got a huge culture shock. The freedom and the present day lifestyle really hit me hard. But there were things I thought then that I must do and I drew a line then and there. I promised myself I would never touch alcohol, never try cigs/weed etc etc and live a very simple life, do my shit and be happy. I have stuck with that till this day. I still don’t know how alcohol tastes. The point I am trying to make is that in Symbi, everyone just gets lost in everything else apart from what’s essentially required. You will never have a focused, inspired class because half are getting rid of hangovers and the rest have other issues to think about/stress (no mums food, relationship issues, money etc). All of this exists everywhere but the truth is, I think it’s just a lot more in Symbi. As a professor, you can’t do much about this but in such a disadvantaged situation, you can’t be a normal professor. You really have to try super hard to get things going if you really want to.

2. Talking of super professor, I still vividly remember my first class of yours in the first year. I am from a science background and so when I am suddenly thrown in Pune attending random lectures, I am bloody fascinated. And you absolutely added to that experience. You were a live wire then with all the stuff you said and how you connected most of your experiences. The students were genuinely fascinated. People discussed your lectures in the canteen etc. That whole first year, I still remember many of friends rating you a 10 on 10. In the 2nd year however, everyone got a little used to you and suddenly I felt the interest quotient/ stories reduced a little, the surprise factor in you class had reduced, your enthusiasm seemed much lesser so this time around you lost all those guys having a hangover and you had the attention of only the few of us in the first few rows. Being a professor is damn hard and I think one of the most prominent ways in which you could get back to un-boring the students is just by being that live wire wow professor in my first semester!!

3. You have probably been told this so many times by now but unfortunately seem to students associate the word cynicism with you. I have no issues. In fact I like your cynicism. I even used your style many a times when speaking/debating. (You remember how I once took permission in 2nd yr to take one of your classes and we had this super intense discussion on the Islam terror and the whole phobia that the world seems to have? that class was really well received and was a super debate.) So I was saying eventually by the end of 2nd or 3rd year a lot of students in my class began to think you had nothing positive about the world/industry. I even read your previous post where you perfectly justified your point of view. In the sense, though everything you said was the absolute reality, consciously no one wanted to ever connect with it. Like bad news. You want to delay hearing or feeling it as much as possible. And I think its simple human psychology to not respond to that kind of stimulus. If I was to suggest, I think it would be great if you came in every class you took and started off your lecture emphasizing what a brilliant profession this is and how the students are superbly killer guys. Because then suddenly you have people wanting to listen and after that whatever message you want to send across suddenly seems to be taken more easily. This worked with me a lot with most of professors. For e.g I still remember how I wasn’t so much interested in the multimedia module Ramesh Menon Sir was taking and then suddenly he just started talking about how his father and him got into good terms after so many years when he won the Ramnath Goenka award. His father hated the fact that he took journalism but 20 yrs later, he was proud of him. Unknowingly, I just absorbed every other complicated shit he said about multimedia after that story/thought.

4. Last suggestion. I think because this course is really open, the professors who come here really need to ensure that they use every possible intervention mechanism to engage the student in one class/period. To put it more simply, I think the class becomes more lively when you engage a lot more senses. For e.g let say you are talking about something as simple as the profile of a reporter. I would ideally first talk about it for 15 minutes, open questions for 5 minutes, Play a video for another 15 minutes, take questions for 5 more minutes, then circulate a few leaflets/printout to read in class itself for 5 minutes on the same topic, then probably get a reporter or show pictures of your life, a radio clipping/joke/meme/poster, workshop type closed group discussions etc in an incentive based mechanism. Essentially just try and drive the same point through various mediums of expression. In this process you are not giving the student time to zone out or just get used to one thing. I suggest its important to fill too many mediums/processes to drive forward a simple point. And whenever someone did that to me, I grasped better and I concentrated harder.

You could also try asking yourself every class you conduct what incentive could you provide that would get things going?! I did 6 debates in the last year winning all of them and that gave me close to 1 lakh rupees prize money in just 2 months. I am no passionate debater, I only went coz there was money and my father refused to buy me a dog and a keyboard which I eventually bought! That was my incentive! Similarly Sana took this nice lecture in first sem for which you got her home made chocolates! Now suddenly, whoever took a lecture next time/presented in front of the class put some josh not because they wanted home made chocolates. It just left you that something was going to come! And all of this really doesn’t need to have any monetary connection. Like, an opportunity to spend the whole day with you in Sakaal office for whoever did well/ a byline somewhere/ a mention in your blog/ i mean anything under the sun!!!

I really meant to say everything in very good spirits so if I have said anything wrong it has been absolutely unintentional!

Cheers Sir! Was great meeting you at the convocation!



Getting emotional….

Posted: March 28, 2010 in students

Sometimes things that people do can make you very emotional. No, I’m not referring to the mastery of Sachin Tendulkar as he raced to his first one-day double hundred or the below-par performance of SRK’s Knight Riders! On Wednesday last (March 24) I went to the under-grad campus of SIMC for some work and one of my students, Monica Banerjee, asked me if I had seen the graffiti that the students had prepared.

She took me along to the 6th Floor of the institute where she showed me some graffiti. Every second poster had some very nice things said about me. And I’m not being sarcastic. The comments were flattering and extremely complimentary. That doesn’t happen in a lot of other situations one finds oneself in every other day, where people only wait to pick faults at anything and everything you do.

When I mentioned this to a student of the PG batch, the reply I got was “18-year-olds are a lot more affectionate than robotic, scheming, politicking 23 year olds!”

Now that’s not entirely true. A lot of the 23-year-olds also ask me when I am going to take their lectures again and I tell them I have no clue. But there are those 23-year-olds who believe that indulging in politics with their faculty and emerging unscathed is a victory, little realising that they are painting themselves into a corner.

The other side to this, is another incident that really made me wonder why we even care to help people. Some months ago I got a call from a guy (M) who was desperately seeking help for his daughter who is a budding sportsperson. He pleaded and cajoled me to think about helping his little girl and after a lot of doubts and misgivings I agreed to help her. I called a friend who is among the who’s who in his area of expertise and he agreed to take up her case.

So last night when I got a call from M and he threatened me for not doing enough for his little girl, I was shocked! His take was that since the person who I had spoken to had not yet done something for his daughter, he was going to make sure that I suffered! Yup, that’s right, he said he would ensure that I would be bumped off soon because, according to his convoluted mind I had ruined his daughter’s career. I am at a loss to understand how I, was in any way, responsible for his daughter’s career, when I had not even met her till date or wanted to meet him. It was obvious he was drunk and I am assuming by morning the booze came down and so did his bravado.

I feel sorry for the girl because I know she is genuinely talented. Her father wont accept it, but the people who I have spoken to and who have seen this kid perform, have said she is superbly talented. But for her old man’s behaviour with the people who mattered in the sport, she would have made a name for herself in her chosen discipline. So anyway, last night after having listened to all the threats and warnings of dire consequences, I really wondered whether it was worth helping anyone. You don’t expect anything in return, but you surely don’t expect to be threatened. Whoever coined that phrase “a friend in need…is no friend of mine” sure knew what he was talking about.

Birds on a Wire…

Posted: February 19, 2010 in journalist, SIMC, SIMC WIRE
Tags: ,

At SIMC Lavale, Saturday, February 20, is a big day for some students. They are all set to launch their own news website aptly named the SIMC WIRE. That means a news website, which they have designed and edited, and where the content – news, pictures and videos – are all largely their own. So good, bad or indifferent, this is their baby and they have to nurture it and leave it in the safe hands of those who follow in their footsteps. If all the glitches are removed they are looking at a Saturday release.

To start a news website is no easy task, as they have all realized. They have been struggling for the past two months to remove the glitches and rework the design where necessary, to finally come up with a product they can proudly call their own. A lot of them are frustrated and tired by the delay and the bottlenecks. The seniors are upset for a lot of reasons – one of them being a very stubborn faculty who will not take shortcuts and will not allow them to do so either! If given half a chance, a lot of them would probably throw him off the cliffs at Lavale.

But a misconception that students still harbour is the idea of being ‘inspired’ by other newspapers and websites when it comes to rewriting stories. We were always told that external sources of news should be used only to verify facts and for reading up, and not, for what a lot of us refer to as, “lift irrigation”. Lifting stories off the Net is the easiest way out. And we always tend to look for the easiest way out.

Another interesting issue that came up during the work on the website was on writing a desk copy with a roving dateline. For example, can one sit in Pune and write a copy datelined Delhi or Mumbai, with quotes et al? When I was with a newspaper, some years ago, I raised this issue when a well-known editor wrote a copy datelined Georgetown, Guyana, even though the person had not moved from the desk in Delhi! I was always taught that it was unethical to write such a copy. If any of my more experienced journalist friends are reading this, they can help me out with a solution, because I am in a minority, against a majority of students who believe there is nothing in wrong with this practice – unless it has now become accepted practice.

A dummy of the SIMC Wire

If students rehash and pass of stuff as their own, they are no different from the bureaus or desks of some newspapers, which quite often pick up Press Information Bureau and US Information Services press releases and recycle them as ‘exclusive’ byline stories. I should know, because I worked in two newspapers which made such a practice into an art form.

But what is the ultimate aim of such a news site – to promote the news agency or the news? It’s neither. Those are available dime a dozen on every two-bit news site or newspaper. And it is a concept that many students working on the website are still unclear about it. The idea behind the launching of the SIMC WIRE is to showcase analyses, pictures and videos by the students. That way it promotes students as thought leaders & helps in the branding of the institute, apart from the enormous practical training they get. There is a lot of latent talent at both SIMC institutes in Pune waiting to be unleashed and the SIMC WIRE could be the perfect outlet.

The making of a journalist is no easy task and the making of a good journalist, even more difficult. It all depends on what these kids want to be. The future, as the old proverb goes, is in their hands!

So, why are people in the broadcast media so touchy about any questions thrown at them about the frivolous manner in which cricket matches are being covered nowadays?

At a National Sports Media Meet at the SIMC on Friday, my question to a panel of three well-known mediapersons – Ayaz Memon, Senior Associate Editor of the Telegraph Lokendra Pratap Sahi and Times Sports Editor Bobilli Vijay Kumar – was “do you think that 20-somethings who hold forth on the state of the game and the cricketers on television channels today, have trivialised the level of commentating and analysis?”

Before any of the panelists could answer the question, the moderator, who was from the world’s biggest sports channel, jumped at me with “Who are you referring to?”

When I said I wasn’t talking about anyone in particular and the question was meant for the three big names of print media, he persisted angrily, “Why don’t you name the person?”

The much more experienced Memon, then quickly butted in and started answering. When he finished, Sahi joined the debate and said precisely what I wanted to hear – that at the end of the day people had to turn to journalists like Memon, Vijay Kumar and himself to get a good analysis of a match!

The matter didn’t end there. After the session, which incidentally, was quite good as were the ones after that, I went up to the moderator to soothe ruffled feathers, but he snapped, “I was going to tell you to switch off your TV set.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Funnily enough, I wasn’t even referring to his channel, because, I believe, it is probably the only sports channel that doesn’t believe in trvialising sports coverage. So, I wondered why he took offence at my comments.

The first thought that came to mind was that, maybe I wasn’t the first to throw such a question to people like him. After all, we’ve read enough criticism about TV channels paying more attention to noodle straps, plunging necklines and tight T shirts, than do some serious commentating.

Don’t think for one moment that I’m being an MCP. I’m not. I’d love to see some woman in noodle straps – but just not in the commentary box! The point I’m making is that there are kids of both genders on some of the TV channels with barely six months under the belt who give their expert comments about the game and players, and only end up making complete asses of themselves. There have been times when it makes one mutter “wtf is he/she talking about?”

A good case in point was the person from the International Cricket Council who also addressed the students, and started every other line with “I don’t know” or “I’m not too sure”. How was such a ‘clueless’ person giving a power point presentation to 200 kids about the ICC’s role in promoting the game?

If TV channels drafted in former women cricketers like Diana Eduljee, Shubhangi Kulkarni or Anjum Chopra to speak on the game, the level of commentary would really be engaging. Kulkarni and Chopra are among the most articulate and knowledgeable persons, I have heard talking on cricket. I’ve had discussions with Kulkarni the few times that we’ve met in the past decade or so, and her opinions and comments on the way the game is being run would give most men an inferiority complex.

But, we do know that most sports channels are not doing too well, and when everything rests on TRPs and it starts to drop, there’s nothing better than a plunging neckline and noodle straps to give it a ‘push up’, is there?