Saturday, August 22, 2009

BMM rocks!

I am just back from a guest lecture at Sophia for BMM students. All the charming girls from 1st, 2nd and 3rd year BMM were there attentively listening to what all I said on the relevance of PR and the PR-Media relationship.

I Discussed with them the evolution of PR as a professional input from errand or courier boys to strategic advisors and partners. Told them how we distributed sweets and arranged expensive gifts at Corporate bigwigs’ media meets. And, also told them how the new generation journos do not accept any gifts.

Also explained the flow of news traffic, traffic jams and challenges for PR in catching the reporters early on.

The girls asked me:

You were a reporter during the Emergency? What kind of changes do you see now, as compared to 1975?

Are PR professionals part of media planning and buying to influence publishers (God, what a question?!)

Challenges for PR professionals in meeting their organisations’ requirements?

Ethics in PR vis-à-vis journalism – How do you tackle the apparent clash of interest?

New age media – the credibility aspect?

Mind blowing – right?

I was absolutely stunned and at the same time was pleasantly surprised about the awareness levels of the future communication professionals.

They know about NDTV 24x7 as well and India News. They are not just flipping through Bombay Times. They do read the front page of TOI and the Ambani brothers war.

So, fellow professionals watch out the new communication brigade coming up. I understand that there are close to 100 colleges in Mumbai alone that teach mass communication!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Worry among New Era School parents over children’s safety

It is a strange feeling! While there is happiness among students and their parents that New Era School reopens on Monday ( August 3), there is also an element if fear lingering among them.

The question that is on top of the mind for many a parent is: How safe with the students attending classes in the 77-year-old building which has been declared “unsafe”.

While the government apparently relied on a BMC report that the building is safe, independent structural engineers have tested and reported that it is not only unsafe, but should be demolished.

For instance, Mahimtura Consultant cautioned that its lives of people inside the building would be in danger. “It is not advisable and practical to keep the school activity functional during the proposed reconstruction of the school building. Hence, we hereby recommend the existing building structure should be demolished and reconstructed.”

Another consultant Shashank Mehendale & Associates also recommended demolition of the building rather than endangering the lives of the students. They have even carried out ultra sonic pulse velocity test and said the quality of concrete is doubtful. They recommended to the school management not to take risk of using this structure particularly as School premises particularly many children would be affected in case of an emergency.

It is shocking that these reports were not taken into consideration and the government came out with an order to reopen the school in the old building apparently as a result of emotions generated during the Rasa Roko agitation by a section of the parents and even some political leaders using children as pawns in the game.

However, Many parents have also expressed their concern over safety in view of the reports from independent structural engineers that the building is not safe for occupancy.

Leading Mumbai Shaina NC opposed to the agitation by parents and subjecting students to torture on the roads. She also said safety of the children is very importance. She asked: Who will be responsible if something goes wrong tomorrow?

Meanwhile, one of the parents said all concerned should learn a lesson from the Delhi Metro project accident. The pillars of a bridge under construction collapsed even after the engineers certified it. He asked: “How can we endanger the lives of our beloved ones by allowing them to attend classes in the old building at Gowalia Tank?”

Some parents said they cannot really blame the school management because they have already said that the building is unsafe.