Published: Saturday, 30 January, 2016 10:50 AM

MICA hosts enriching panel discussion on Communication for Social Impact

Friday afternoon saw MICA students assemble at the Mani Aiyer Auditorium on campus to participate in an enlightening panel discussion as a part of their academic course, dealing with ‘Communication For Social Impact’, a subject designed to help develop a social consciousness in future marketers and encouraging the application of crucial communication learnings and marketing principles in the social sector for the greater good of the society. 

The two-hour long discussion, brought together by Professor ManishaShelat, featured five eminent panelists working in different dimensions of the Indian social sector. The discussion was held in two phases: each panelist made a 15 minute presentation about their field of work and how strategic communication can help improve conditions in them, which was followed by a discussion and a Q&A session with the students.


The session started with a presentation by Mr. Mahesh Pandya, who is currently the director of ParyavaranMitra (Friends of Environment). He spoke extensively about the meaning of development and drew a clear line between economic growth and human development. He emphasized on the fact that the administration needs to recognize the pressing need for a sustainable environment policy so as to preserve our natural resources.

Mr. Pandyahas previously intervened for different policies, like Regulatory Framework on Wetland Conservation; Hazardous Waste rules, 2008, and Certified Emission Reduction revenues for Welfare and development work. Intervention in national policies related to environment namely Environment Impact Assessment Notification 1994, 2006 and 2009, Draft Coastal Management Zone Notification, National Environment Policy, and National Action Plan on Climate Change etc.

The second panelist was Mr. Mayur Trivedi, who is an Associate Professor with Public Health Foundation of India and is posted at the Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar. He has 12 years of experience in conducting and managing field research around thematic areas of health expenditure and health financing, economics of HIV and AIDS, costing of health interventions, and evaluation of healthcare interventions. He has co-authored some pioneering work around health insurance for people living with HIV in India.

Talking about the urgent need for communication in promoting health awareness and hygiene in India, he said, “Health education which is about disease and awareness of it, is only a small part of health promotion, which, being the larger challenge, is about informing patients and potential patients of larger ecological and behavioral practices necessary to maintain and guarantee health and hygiene.


He further went on to point out the serious pitfalls in how Government and Ngo sponsored health-related communication in India is found lacking at several levels. He said that most communications ignore men completely and talk only to the women, especially on issues like saving the girl child, safe motherhood and sanitation campaigns, as if it was the woman’s responsibility to work for them. He also pointed at Literacy communication gaps, the practice of blaming the victim, use of Sanskritized Hindi/Gujarati, aone size fits all approach, and absence of synergy between health and communication professionals as serious issues that should be addressed in the future.

This was followed by a talk by AvniSethi, Artistic Director, Conflictorium, Ahmedabad. Her body of work consists of projects in social design, communication design, installation art, sound art, curation, design research and performance art. She conceptualized, curated and executed the Conflictorium, a Museum of Conflict in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, inaugurated in April 2013. The museum has been working at the helm of participatory practices, negotiating development practice and art practice simultaneously.  She has a MA in Performance Studies from Ambedkar University Delhi. Her research examines surveillance patterns in Kashmir via the lens of performance. Trained in the Indian classical dance form of Kathak, she choreographs and performs in India and abroad on contemporary and Sufi-Bhakti themes.

MICA Event

She talked in depth about the nature and root of human rights violations and conflicts and how discrimination arising from exclusion results in violence. She used visual and auditory cues to drive home the evils of discrimination arising from choices that cannot be changed, like caste, religion and gender.

The fourth presentation was by Prof. L.K. Vaswani, who is the Director, KIIT School of Rural Management, Bhubaneswar and former Director of IRMA ,Anand. Prof. Vaswani has over 40 years of experience in teaching, training, research and consultancy with number of organizations, including NABARD, Indian Coffee Marketing Co-operative Ltd. (COMARK), KRIBHCO, ORG, ICAR etc. He has been representing various committees/board/professional bodies as Expert Committee Member, Advisor and Member.  Prof. Vaswani has more than 30 research papers/articles and has 40+ papers in conferences/seminars/workshops in India and abroad.

His talk was concerning inefficiency of Government’s rural livelihood initiatives across the country and how the only way people can be benefitted is through effective communication and training, and how mere resource allocation and subsidies will not result in creating empowerment and livelihoods.

The final talk was by Mr. RohitTalwar, who began his career in Pratham. He has a 7 years of ground level experience in implementing programs of Pratham. The highlights of this tenure were executing Universalization of reading to impact children, implementing organization policy for performance metrics & salary raise of 50 program officers and 200 supervisors of Rural and Urban programs in Gujarat, mobilizing 600 volunteers from the colleges of Ahmedabad for Read Campaigns in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Later moved to UK for 4 years and independently managed the supply chain of automobile products in London UK from 2008-11. Rohit has been the Core team member and managing the Gandhi Fellowship Marketing from 2012.

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