During his 12-year tenure as Managing Director of IPTAR / AIBD, Mr. R. Balakrishan had delivered numerous speeches at national, regional and international forums. His speeches have been widely acclaimed as well-crafted, well-focused, well-balanced, lucid, substantive, persuasive, concise, precise, witty and incisive.
Here are some excerpts from some of Bala's speeches.
Excerpts from 'Regional Approach to Broadcast Training.' (Paper presented at the Regional Seminar on Communication Education between 30 September and 2nd October 1982 at Dewan Sri Budiman, ITM, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia).
" A regional approach to broadcasting can succeed only where there is the recognition that the national efforts and national institutions given to broadcast training are strengthened. One cannot succeed without the other. each component is essential for the healthy and orderly development of the other."
" A regional approach to broadcast training must rely on a number of institutions within and without the region."
" No single institution can ever hope to have all of the professional competence and expertise that is necessary to mount a systematic, well-programmed and meaningful manpower development programme for the region as a whole."
" If one should reflect for a moment on the number of skills and disciplines required for the making of a programme, the effective management of a broadcasting system, it will not be difficult to see that no single institution can have the resources to meet the overheads required to maintain a huge battalion of professionals on its staff..... It is in developing excellence in some areas that an institution can be realistically expected to secure/employ resources. And it is a network of such institutions each known for its excellence in one or more areas of broadcasting that can effectively contribute to regional training."
" Training is often understood at least in academic circles within the limited confines of skills and trade schools. It means more than that and it is a word between the conventional terms of education and training, we have not found or discovered it in English."
" Regional broadcasting must be seen and accepted as an effort at widening the horizons of professionals, as sensitizing them to a variety of approaches to the worth and value of broadcasting to a community or those who own and operate them in different countries; not as an effort in sharpening skills alone, but perceptions as well. In particular, that training must not be seen as an alternative to real experience."
" You may ask a number of questions: Would it be necessary that all of the 100,000 need to be trained? If not, what may be the specific number? In what areas, where, by whom and with what resources? And even more cynical questions could be: Do people in broadcasting need training or could they be trained at all?"
" Every study that has been made about the educational levels among the broadcasters would seem to suggest that less than 10% have had any type of education beyond the secondary level; even smaller percentage of those employed in broadcasting have had any type of formal training. Many have learnt the job on the job. If that should be true, broadcasting must be one of the very few professions, if it is a profession at all, that so intimately touches the average man in the street daily, with so few in it who have been prepared for it; whose only preparation is through trial and error and the sufferance of the general public."
" At a time when excellence of performance is sought from all those engaged in various types of public activities, it seems a little anachronistic that broadcasters should remain without the opportunity for an adequate preparation before they join the profession."
In order to establish and refine national training capabilities, some of the things that the Institute may address itself to as a matter of priority may be in the following areas:
The development of the technology of training
This should cover the development of trainers, training material, training curricula, management of training programmes, training institutions, etc. It is an area in which trainers in professional institutions and teachers in academic institutions could work in tandem for mutual benefit.
Development of tools and techniques
This is necessary to identify the needs and the measurement or evaluation of training programmes that are aimed at alleviating such needs.
Seminars and symposiums
These are necessary to bring together decision makers and policy formulators to consider appropriate manpower development programmes in the face of rapidly changing circumstances of communications technology. Such seminars or symposiums could also provide opportunities for participants to offer alternatives to existing conventional and constitutional approaches to education and society.
To examine existing conventions and mechanisms relating to regional or international cooperation in manpower development in this field.
Education in training
Besides development, education on a wider front is also important to encompass the notion of sensitising a broadcaster to be alive, alert, artistic and functional all at one and the same time, is how we view our role in our Institute. That is why or Institute has tapped resources globally to execute its programme. There is validity in believing that regional training should be done by regional trainers and national training by national trainers. This of course depends on whether one is viewing it as culture- specific or with universal application. We hope if training has an element of education it also implies widening of horizons for both the trainees and trainers. The business of widening horizons cannot be achieved successfully within the narrow confines of geography, culture or politics!
To summarise in a few points what I believe to be regional approach in broadcast training:
1. Professional or academic institutions given to the business of manpower development within national frontiers should be willing to work through a network arrangement to share expertise, experiences and materials for the benefit of the region as a whole.
2. Managements must be prepared to recognise that training calls for the best of professionals to be trained in the art and science of transmitting their expertise to others who will follow them and that training institutions should not become depositories of deadwood, the unwanted or quarrelsome in operational settings.
3. Professional training will not just be classrooms or studios but also miniature or simulated operational broadcasting facilities so that professional training can be undertaken in settings similar to operations to which trained personnel will return.
4. Training should not be seen as one of exercise but one that weaves through the career of a broadcaster ever so often, but not so frequently as to making him a professional trainee all his life.
5. Broadcast training cannot and must not be seen in isolation to other media and disciplines.
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Excerpts from the Welcome Address by R. Balakrishnan on 12.4.1982 on the occasion of the opening of a workshop on Environment Development for Broadcasters with special reference to Marine Environment (organised by AIBD in collaboration with ESCAP & UNEP).
The Institute's principal preoccupation and mandate have been the development of broadcasting skills and broadcasting capability in the region. These technicalities are not purely technical and professional. They also extend to applying those technical and professional skills to enable broadcasting to be a developing role, especially an educational role in society - in the broader sense of the term education, particularly in societies where literacy is low or illiteracy is rampant and the opportunities for education are limited.
...... It has been our effort not only to be involved in skills formation, but also to sensitise those skills that embank on activities that can help to meet regional, governmental roles- regardless of whether such goals have been articulated by governments or social institutions outside the fold of governments.
The Institute from its inception has endeavoured to organise a variety of activities in what we call the applied areas of broadcasting covering such fields as population, education, consumer affairs, science education, health and hygiene, agriculture, NFE, women and social development, etc ....... in the hope that such a marriage would enable each to better understand the potential and constraints of the other so that they can create awareness across the society or goad people into action or keep people merely informed.
Excellent research, good laws or intentions for such laws and periodic actions by concerned environmentalists or by those concerned about environment alone will not be enough. There must be general and sustained interest and awareness among the public and that is only possible if the media could be harnessed.
The broadcaster's first responsibility is not, and will never be, environment or education. But he can be schooled into being sensitive about environment and the role he could play in creating public awareness of it.
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Excerpts from "Media Training : A Thought on Broadcast Training" ( A paper presented by R. Balakrishan on 21.6.1984 at the Media Roundtable on Health Education organised by WHO- UNESCO- IPDC- AMIC and held at the Singapore Asian Communication Research & Information Centre).
As far as our experience at the Institute is concerned, thus far, training has been developed in a deliberate way as a response to needs expressed or determined.
That training must respond to a need is realistic, sensible, desirable and pragmatic! But it should also envisage a need, and prepare for it by setting a lead is also an equally forceful and desirable reality. Such a lead could be set by examining various areas of broadcasting - programme formats, technology, policy and planning questions, systems, research, management and organisational features, etc may be considered, for instance.
Lack of appropriate resources* and vision of the totality of the training function have disabled us from giving due and fair attention to the latter. (*Resources refer not only to money; more importantly they refer to attitudes and dispositions of managements and decision makers; of those engaged in technical cooperation and assistance; of materials and infrastructure; of political commitments, etc).
In spite of logistical difficulties, the response to the needs in broadcasting have been fairly easy in that it has had to deal with numbers of persons to be trained in a given range of skill areas or in the number of manuals and learning materials that could be designed or produced. The statistical outcome of such a response has also been quite impressive..........However, quantities alone do not or cannot solve the problem for broadcasting to be effective or socially relevant to a society.
To ensure qualitative improvement to it, the preparation therefore - training, the availability of training materials, etc - rests squarely on investments that need to be made in research, evaluation, experimentation and other development considerations. Any training in isolation from these considerations, which constitute the linchpin for planning future needs, would be limited in value and short-lived too!
It has been said training means "a systematic instructional process aimed at improving the knowledge and skill of employees so that they may better understand and perform their tasks." In the world of broadcasting, however, one often encounters the argument that formal training is not possible. Proponents of that argument would suggest that ours is a world of the arts, the make-belief, dependent on creativity, talent, emotions, moods, intuition, dreams, etc. They are not wrong. Indeed, they are obviously right; but possibly only so much and no more.
That a great number of skills, talents and disciplines are involved in the making of a broadcast programme , no one can dispute r doubt. The programmes are dependent on the state of the technology no less than they are on the organisational and structural patterns of the institutions that make them. They are not just creations of those who work in broadcasting, but the result and reflection of the total society and the interactions therein.
No matter what differences there may be in approaches to, or content of, training there can be little disagreement that the product of training should be a professional broadcaster, much better than he was before being subjected to it; one whose skills have improved and who is sensitised to the society and the audience he serves; one who does a professional job of his work on completion of training; or one who is professionally equipped to meet challenges and tasks ahead of him!
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