The well-known exponent of the role of mass media in development, Dr. Wilbur Schramm, who headed a team of experts to advise the development of infrastructure of information in ~ndia and the establishment of thg Indian Institute of Mass Communication had a meeting with our first Prime Minister, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1962. Later, Schramm described the meeting in these words: "This was on an afternoon when Mr. Nehru was relaxed, happy. He asked me, By the way what is this mass communication? I do not think 1 understand it very well' and I said 'But Mr. Prime Minister, you are the chief mass comrllunicator of India'. I mentioned the crowds of hundreds of thousands, books and broadcasting. He threw back his head and laughed, 'Oh that' and said, 'I guess I do know something about it'. Nehru poked fun at the electronic system, the loud-speakers that would not work or given out of order before half of his long speeches were over. Then he said something that I never forgot. He said, "This will help us to talk together" Wilbur Schramm, later, underlined the words-'this will help us to talk together'.
The words are important, because they bring out the meaning of inter-personal communication in Indian society and indicate the emergence of mass communication, i.e., communicating with a large number of people. As you perhaps know, mass communication in India began without the use of electronic media, like radio and television. The beginning can be traced back to communication within a social group. For example, a village panchayat has been and continues to be a centre. Similarly, religious gatherings, whether at a place of worship or when organised on special occasions have, from time immemorial, functioned as centres of communication. Then, there are any number of fairs and melas where people in large numbers gather together to, communicate on a variety of subjects.