Social Role of Communication:
Social relevance of communication follows from the economic and political role of communication. We, in this country, have often talked about using media to bring about social change. What does social change mean? It is obviously difficult to give a precise definition. But a very general statement will suffice here. Our country has great disparity in incomes, a vefy small minority is affluent, but the vast majority is poor. Therefore, our policy is not merely industrialisation or development of agriculture, but it is to extend the benefits to all strata of our people. Thus, development with social justice is our aim. This amounts to moving towards a new kind of society. Our country is inhabited by people who profess different religions, speak different languages, and enjoy different kinds of culture. In the past, most of us were victims of deprivation under a colonial govemment which encouraged sections of our people to blame each other for their problems. Now, it is our policy to develop all cultures, languages and communities, and to bring them closer to each other. This will consolidate or integrate our nation and allow us to concentrate on working for a better future. But this again means a vast social change-we say we want to move towards unity in diversity, and we wish our state to be secular where religion doesn't divide, and decisions of the state are rational rather than emotional and partisan.
In a democracy, where the citizen is sovereign, we have to go forward on the basis of persuading people to ccept certain ideas and programmes, and therefore, there is a crucial role for ommunication in bringing about a social change. Social role of communication is to build 'dges of understanding among these groups whose objective interests are the same. This, I id fact, is the crucial challenge before media in the country. In the social context also, communication is ex$cted to serve the immediate interests and needs of individual citizens. People have to be served with information about their rights, which under the law of the land, they are expected to enjoy. There are several benefits to which people as citizens are entitled but, if they are not aware of these beneficial provisions, how do they make their claims? To illustrate this with an example, not very long ago, the Indian Institute of Mass Communication conducted a study in selected rural area in the Khanna dismct of Punjab. This was to find out whether the agricultural labourers knew that there was a minimum daily wage fixed for them. The investigators went to several villages in which the labour was engaged in harvesting of the crops. The lakurers were mostly migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan who come to Punjab year after year for employment during the season. To their utter surprise, invesfigators found that hardly any one of the labourers knew that he or she could ask for the minimum wage.jried by law. This information never reached them.