Thursday, December 12, 2013

Professors Share Experiences in Tirupati, India

By Cassie Kelly

Academics from the Institute for International Journalism and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism traveled to Tirupati, India to discuss new media with scholars from around the globe.
The conference, hosted by the Women’s University’s (Sri Padmavati Mahila Visvavidyalayam) Departmentof Communications, sparked discussion on social media in India particularly through a panel with OU Assistant Professor Dr. Jatin Srivastava and Dr. Yusuf Kalyango, director of the International Institute, said Professor Mary Rogus.
According to some of the research presented by scholars at the conference, social media is changing societal norms in India, especially pertaining to women.
“They are testing their boundaries with social media,” said Rogus, referring to women in Indian society.
She explained that research has shown that women are posting pictures that are “not demure,” resulting in a potential shift in traditional values. However, scholars see this as a positive, with India not cracking down on social media restrictions as a result.
In addition to the topic of women and social media, the conference encouraged conversation on high education structures, which Srivastava found particularly interesting, he said.
Comparatively, Indian and American higher education structures are very different. Srivastava explained that the students learn the same material but that universities in America are much more autonomous and in India there is more of a collaborative mindset. Moreover, he added that universities exchange ideas about evaluation and feedback systems and how to make them more efficient.
“They not only tell us how well we are doing but how they could generate new courses,” said Srivastava.
After the conference, OU representatives Professors Rogus, Kalyango and Srivastava did some sight seeing at the Tirumala temple in Tirupati as well as visit the Taj Mahal.
“The temple was incredibly inspiring. The looks on their faces when they walked in were so moving,” said Rogus, referring to those who worshipped at the temple that day.
Srivastava said that he is always interested by how many people are willing to undergo the wait every day for their faith. The temple is visited by 50 to 100,000 people a day, with lines stretching out to the point that people will wait longer than five hours to walk through the temple for five minutes.
“There are so many people waiting in line but they are all calm, including the children. There is no crying,” said Srivastava.
The entire trip and conference was hosted by two former SUSI scholars, Professor Peddiboyina Vijaya Lakshmi from the Women’s University and Dr. Anand Pradhan from the Indian Institute for Mass Communication in Delhi, allowing the collaborative bonds of these scholars to come full circle. 
“Our hosts were fabulous, they could not have taken better care of us,” said Rogus. 

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