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EVMs are here to stay, asserts CEC Sunil Arora

JAIPUR:  Asserting that the EVMs are here to stay, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India Sunil Arora has ruled out the possibility of going back to paper ballot in the country’s elections.

Kick-starting the 13th Global Communication Conclave organized by Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) at Manipal University Jaipur (MUJ) recently,  Arora referred to come complaints regarding malfunctioning of EVMs and said there were very few. There was not a single case of any criminal intent.

He likened the complaints against EVMs to the grouse expressed in a section in the 1960s about the Bhakra Nangal dam water that the flow was not good for agriculture was power was taken away from it due to the hydro project.

Referring to a social media campaign launched by PRCI - #StepOuit2Vote – to create awareness about voting, Arora said the EC would also focus on mobilizing voters in low-turnout areas to go to the polling booths.

The election process has been flawless right from the days of the first general election and it has improved over the years, he pointed out.

The Conclave drew huge response with close to 500 delegates from across the country participating.

Various speakers dealt with the theme PR- What is the Big Idea and the unanimous conclusion was PR is a Big Idea!

Presiding over the inaugural, MUJ Chairman and Chancellor Dr K Ramnarayan said he was happy to such a major congregation at MUJ which always stood for sharing knowledge.

In his opening remarks, PRCI Chief Mentor and Chairman Emeritus M B Jayaram said the Council has come a long way from the day eminent journalist and fearless editor of Outlook magazine late Vinod Mehta had inaugurated it on March 3, 2004 at Bangalore with his truly inspiring thoughts on the importance of PR, particularly in difficult times for corporate and even politicians.

Apart from conducting global communication conclaves, felicitating achievers with the prestigious Chanakya awards and recognizing talent through PRCI Excellence awards, PRCI also hold knowledge forums and media seminars on issues of current interest, he said.

“Our PR Hall Fame is the only feature of its type in the profession where we induct senior professionals with excellent track record,”  Jayaram added.

Making a presentation on a host of novel projects launched by PRCI, its governing council chairman B N Kumar said the organisation has gone well beyond the pink-shirt, party-happy culture to emerge as a true communication exchange.

The unique social communication idea has caught the imagination of the media and it resulted in positive impact, be it the #SaveParsikHills or #IamMamngroveIamDying campaign which have won international awards.

Explaining the theme, Conclave Chairperson Vijay Lakshmi said: “An idea can not only can change but make a big impact on the society as such. Moreover, Communication or PR is all about ideas – ideas that work, impact our lives

Asking whether communication professionals also need ideas to survive With globalization and ever rising competition, she said hackneyed or template solutions may not always work and one needs to think out of box and act on one’s toes.

Explaining the concept of PRCI Young Communicators Club, its Chairperson Geetha Shankar said YCC has established its presence in ten cities covering various mass communication institutions and universities.

“Only serious studies could be boring for the students. Hence, we consciously avoid much serious talk and have interesting contests and anecdote-based sessions sharing our experiences. Plus, the assignments and projects that we give keep them engaged. Thus we supplement and compliment the academic training that the students get in their classes,” she added.

Participating in a fireside chat with Kumar, Dr Pragnya Ram, Executive President – Corporate Communication and CSR, Aditya Birla Group, said ideas do matter in PR and one has to keep coming out with them to appeal to media.

Dr Ram said communication professionals ought to be assertive in telling their bosses as to what makes news and what not and keep reasonable expectations.

She pointed out that the mass communication institutions which are dime a dozen just churn out graduates without any substance. Some of the young communicators and journalists write appalling English and the reports get printed without any check.

Team Kerala led by T Vinay Kumar explained the initiative taken by them in meeting the crisis arising out of the Kerala flood fury. It was rather rare that PR professionals physically joined the rescue and rehabilitation, said session anchor Sanjay Rammoorthy, who is also the chairman of PRCI Mumbai chapter.

Talking about the growth of regional media, Bhuwanesh Jain, Deputy Editor of Rajasthan Patrika said Indian language newspapers have emerged as formidable platforms for communication. “That is a big idea to deal with,” he said.

NDTV special correspondent Harsha Kumari Singh said “in competitive TV journalism, we have to come out with innovative ways of reporting to remain ahead.”

A panel discussion anchored by PRCI Governing Council director R T Kumar, saw interesting exchange of thoughts on “Is Social Media Humbug” by speakers Rashi Bammi,  Founder and CEO, Renaissance PR, Anindita Singh, Corpcom Head, L&T Metro, S P Paliwal, multi-faceted personality and Dr Saadullah Khan, MUJ.

Bakul Gala, vice-president of Corpcom at Wadia group, anchored a unique panel discussion on communication for agriculture.  Kamlesh Daga –Plasti Surge Industries, Sunitha Subramaniyan – TAFE and S.Narendra – ex PIO, stressed that communicators had a major role in improving the agriculture output as well as improving the lot of farmers. Media also should not neglect the sector on which over 60% of the nation depends and that contributes majorly to the GDP.

Dr Saadullah Khan of MUJ, C J Singh of Core PR Chandigarh, Dharan of PRCI Chennai took part in a session on communication education that was conducted by Geetha Shankar, YCC Chairperson. Their conclusion was that PRCI could form the channel to make education future relevant as well as industry focused.

Jitender Bhargava, Ex-Exec Director, Air India, Suman Das Sharma, Senior Partner, Ketchum Sampark, Vaishali Desai, Godrej Properties PIB official, Sandeep Agrawal, CEO, Think Energy, participated in a panel discussion on Ideas and PR. Shweta Rajpal Kohli, ex-NDTV news anchor, conducted the discussion and the panelists concluded that ideas do make PR relevant to changing social needs.

Veteran journalist H K Dua, MP, said in his special address said communication plays a major role in democracy, while Cyber Security expert Dr C B Sharma, IPS, said cyber criminals cannot go scot free as they can be caught even after decades. The technology that the cyber criminals use will help track them, he added.

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