From newspaper editions to internet ones and from broadcast to podcast, the rapidly changing communications industry is in urgent need of expert governance. To meet this demand, the Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad (MICA) recently launched a Fellowship Programme in Management (FPM) for industry enthusiasts who not only want to keep pace with the changing times but also serve as experts.
According to Dean of Research at MICA, Professor Pradeep Krishnatray, the programme has been initiated to overcome the shortage of scholars, faculty and researchers who need to oversee the transforming communications industry. The fundamentals of communications are changing. With new devices like mobile phones and internet, no single medium of communication can be it. Today, it means integration of the traditional and the new media and to record this transformation scholars and researchers are needed.
Besides creating a team of experts to deal with the new scenario in communications, this programme is also expected to feed the faculty requirements of MICA and other establishments in India and abroad. The programme hopes to breed quality faculty and researchers in-house, and churn out fellows who can generate research in the field of communications which is almost non-existent at this point. In quite a few institutes offering fellowship programmes, including the Indian Institutes of Management, graduates from the fellowship programme are absorbed as faculty by the institute. In fact, the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has close to 40 percent of the faculty members who are fellowship holders of the institute, including the current director, Professor Samir Barua and the newly appointed Dean of Faculty, Professor Ajay Pandey.
With this programme, MICA also hopes to increase its student-faculty ratio. MICA presently has close to 400 students at a time on campus, besides the several on-line courses. For all the students put together, there are 23 permanent faculties and several visiting and guest faculty from industry in India and abroad. This makes the faculty-student ratio over 1:20. MICA hopes to increase the ratio to 1:15, which is the ratio in IIMA.
Besides, Krishnatray, the credit for this programme also goes to Professor Ashok Ranchhod, who is presently the director.
The three year programme, which has already begun work, has received approval from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The areas of discipline that the programme offers include Integrated Marketing Communication (which is the study of complementary use of media,) Communication and Social Change (which is the study of societal changes brought about by communication), Communication and Cultural Studies (which is the study of implication and influence of communication on tradition and communities) and New Media and Communication (study of new media like internet.)
Though there is a provision for ten seats, the first batch has commenced with nine students. According to Krishnatray, there were forty applications for the fellowship programme, but only nine were selected on the basis of their credentials which were tested during the selected process. These come from diverse backgrounds within the communications expanse, like radio, marketing, advertising and others. One of the candidates is also a fresher with a strong communications and marketing background.
Being a full time course, the students live on the campus. The selection process for the programme includes a written exam which is subjective, a presentation and a final interview. Candidates with a background in communication management and who possess basic analytical and statistical skills are preferred. There are no fees for the fellowship programme and participants are given a stipend amount of Rs 20,000 per month, which the enrolled participants say is more than enough, since all their other needs are looked after by the institute.
As a part of the course, the candidates will be expected to spend one term of their second year in a university abroad and be assigned to an academician or a researcher there. The fellows will have to prepare the first draft of their project abroad which they will continue to work on after they return, said Krishnatray. In the third year, candidates will assist a current faculty member back home and on completion of the course, will have to teach at MICA for at least two years.
The average age of the candidates in the FPM is slightly higher than the other courses. About 46 per cent of the batch doing Post Graduate Diploma in Management is aged between 22 and 23 years and 43 per cent is aged between 20 and 21 years, while the candidates in the FPM programme are aged between 28 and 32 years.
Priti Das, one of the candidates enrolled in the programme, has worked for various companies in the last six years, most of her job profiles related to marketing and development. Her last job was however that of a radio jockey. Talking about her expectations of the course, she said: “I expect this course to be a platform wherein I can integrate with academics, all that I have learnt as part of the industry. The other exciting bit is assisting a professor and then teaching at the institute. Das hopes to work as an independent consultant in the years to come.
In the batch are also the likes of Shiba Daveshar, who has worked in a daily newspaper for 10 years. I always wanted to get into academics, she says citing the reasons for her entry into the FPM. Tanupam Akuli has also enrolled into the programme to gain academic experience and is keeping the options of going back to the corporate world. Akuli, an engineer with a management degree and six years of marketing work experience, said: “Before I took the decision of taking this break and getting back to academics, I spoke to a few friends and HR guys in the corporate circle. The HR people told me that while there is a lot of movement from the corporate to academics, the other way around movement is also prevalent and the industry is happy to welcome people from education field.
The institute is also planning to make the FPM a professional doctorate programme for people with considerable work experience and who have published great amount of research and papers as a part of their job. This is widely prevalent in universities abroad but not in India, said Krishnatray.