Friday, June 18, 2010

Public Relations Office or Propaganda Office at AMU?

Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels.

— Richard Alan Nelson, A Chronology and Glossary of Propaganda in the United States

The lessons of Public Relations taught in the 2nd Semester of M.A Mass Communication are still fresh in my memory. As Press Council of India has set some guidelines for reporting in newspapers & magazines, Advertising Standards Council of India set certain guidelines for advertising, in the same way International Public Relations Association adopted and recommended Code of Athens (undertaking of ethical behaviour) in 1965 in the Public Relations practices worldwide. However when I seriously analyse the role of Public Relations and Media Department at AMU, it utterly disappoint in terms of PR ethics and standards and seemingly took the form of a propaganda machine under a despotic regime. Now propaganda is one form of communication which doesn’t need to follow any ethical standards or guidelines and highly detestable in a civil and democratic society.

Bab-e-Syed Revolt, 2009

During the days of recent massive protest by students in October, 2009 the Media Department of AMU quite baffled with the peaceful nature of protest tried to raise the bogey of “outsiders (I will come to this later)” and continuously tried to colour that agitation in violent terms defaming their own students and university. Even though 24 hours before declaring sine die the PRO’s Press Release stated that classes were conducted peacefully and thereby accepting the peaceful nature of protest. However before that the Press Releases from AMU PRO’s office stated that students went on rampage and blocked the national railway traffic after the murder of late Mr. Shahnawaz Alam which the highest authority of law and order of Aligarh District, the then SSP, Aligarh denied in a statement to a Hindi Daily.

In that agitation, students complained of massive suspension, rustication, shifting to NRSC, indiscriminate fines, massive raids which created a reign of terror. These issues literally angered the academic circles in the country to such extent that in the Press Release of November 15, 2009(some 30 students were then in dharna at Jantar Mantar) where Vice-Chancellor declared about the re-opening of the university the Public Relations department tried to defend the university’s position on the harsh disciplinary actions taken against students. In that Press Release under the sub-headline “Baseless Rumours” PRO, AMU( stated “During the last 2 years, the University administration has not suspended or rusticated any student for violation of code of conduct rules. The Propaganda that hundred of students have been suspended by the University is totally baseless and designed to create ill will towards the university by some individuals and others whose designs are political...The allegation that the University has collected several lacks of rupees as fine is a blatant lie to misled students and general public...In the current academic year out of 11000 plus students only 29 students in all the 18 Halls of residences were fined.”

Now see who resorted to Propaganda. Read this passage from a newspaper report published in The Hindu recently about students’ suspensions. (

According to the RTI response, in 2007, 32 students were suspended in September, six in August, 26 in October and 15 in November. In 2008, roughly 10 students were suspended. Of the students who were suspended in 2007, 28 students were rusticated in 2008. Thirty-one students were suspended in 2009 of which 18 were suspended in November. Of the suspended students, four were rusticated. In 2010, 12 students had been suspended till April taking the total count to 148 students who had been suspended, rusticated or both.

And look at the lie of fines...In one RTI reply to me by vide D.No 648 dated May 12, 2010(Scan copy attached though of poor quality, underlined in the 12th row) the Asst. Finance Officer (Students) accepted that under Category “A” and Code 50011 Finance & Accounts Department, AMU collected the followed fees as FINES since 99-2K till date, 1999-2000: Rs.83688, 2000-01:Rs.84539, 2001-02: Rs. 100512,2002-03:Rs.185270 , 2003-04:Rs.185271, 2004-05: Rs.192209, 2005-06: Rs.222460, 2006-07: Rs.262685, 2007-08: Rs.326446, 2008-09:Rs.429927, 2009-10: Rs.750169. So we can see who is lying now! The Fines in the tenure of this Vice-Chancellor is touching new heights every year. However the amount of Fines is same since Academic Council passed AMU Students Conduct and Disciplines Rules, 1985 which is maximum Rs.500 which may extend up to Rs.2500. And moreover 29 students and lakhs of fine, start with your own knowledge of math. It will make your day I must say.

The Politics of Outsider

The politics of outsider and constructed fear is a great way to wage war against a state, to purchase huge defence equipments benefitting the suppliers, contractors, middle-men and politicians, and above all to evoke jingoism and blind patriotism to justify and make acceptable any emergency actions. At AMU, every student agitation is the handiwork of some “outsiders” with some vested interest here as it is often portrayed by the AMU administration. All students are happy and busy in their studies only. They do not voice their problems and disturb peace in the campus, its “outsiders” only who provokes them. So see how Public Relations Department again resorted to lying in support of their propaganda related to “outsiders”, CCTV etc. (

The PRO, AMU said to THE PIONEER on March 31, 2010 in the news story “AMU Hostels under CCTV scanner”(, They have been put in place for security reasons as per government guidelines. Several outsiders enter the campus to create unrest and violence. The recent hungama on March 22 was an example of it. No student or teacher is affected by their installation,”

Now on March 22, a student from Azamgarh went missing and for 3 days the Provost, Allama Iqbal did not respond and the entire AMU administration came into action to rescue him only students gathered in large number that day. So to find the role of the outsiders in the“hungama” and detailed report about their involvement in it available at the Proctors Office on whose basis PRO might have gave his statement a RTI was filed. The Proctors Office in its reply vide D.No 124/Proc dated 21.4.2010 shocked by saying, “No such report relating to any hungama in the campus on 22.03.2010 is available in the record of the Proctors Office” or when asked about the name and address of the outsiders and the action taken report on them, they replied, “No such information/record available at the Proctors Office. CPIO, PRO may provide information/record.” What kind of drama is this then? There was no hungama, yet PRO justify actions on a hungama. And as I said, the AMU administration has mastered in this politics of “outsiders”. There is no one, yet they can produce such outsiders out of nothing to justify actions and hide their fault. Same way they did in declaring the sine die in 2009 where AMU administration said due to their fear they were closing the university.

News Value Factor

This is the primary lesson in journalism taught to us sincerely by Prof. Shafey Kidway in the 1st Semester. There are eight primary factors (Impact, Timeliness, Prominence, Proximity, Uniqueness, Conflict, Currency, and Human Interest) which determine the newsworthiness of a potential story for media. But I can understand the plight of the people involved in the media department of AMU who can’t let the decision makers understand about these important things and just had to write what their masters dictate without using much of their personal knowledge. The decisions to suspend me for defaming on internet, Afaq Ahmad for filming the mess and sending threatening letter to VC, Dr. Siras for involving in homosexual activity exposed through illegal sting operation inside his private quarter all had the News Value Factor of top rated “Uniqueness” (Because such decisions had never been taken in any other institution in India) which would be covered by media extensively even if happened in any other institution. Media department failed completely in this damage control and news stories and articles constantly appeared and criticized the functioning of AMU in the last 6-8 months. The problem the AMU administrators can’t even understand that just by citing that AMU has its own system it can’t take rare disciplinary actions and in the end media will only publish stories after stories on such damaging its reputation further in the academic circles in the country.

Some Questions

Some prominent Old Boys who never spare a second to blame my writings on forums as “political” are conspicuously silent on the issue that in justifying my suspension the PRO sent a Press Release where he accused me and other students of blocking the National Railway Traffic after the unfortunate death of Mr.Shahnawaz Alam. Whereas in the news item “Namjadgi Galat, AMU Chhatra Shamil Nahi” on 30th October, 2009 in Dainik Jagaran the then SSP, Aligarh Mr. Asim Arun denied that any AMU student was involved in such incident. I can see many Old Boys are silent even I asked them to speak out. Is not this Press Release defaming the AMU students and the university itself?

If for writing correct facts regarding the mismanagement prevailing at AMU which could not respond to a injured student pushing him to death, and for showing total disrespect towards his deceased body which in the end embarrassed Proctor and he ordered to suspend me, Why no actions should be taken for falsifying facts and defaming the AMU just to please the Vice-Chancellor?

The Public Relations Office of AMU should be renamed itself Propaganda Office, AMU in view of the abovementioned facts and reasons which violated Sections 11, 12, 13 and 14 of Code of Athens ( for Public Relations Officers which ask them to refrain from Subordinating the truth to other requirements(11), Circulating information which is not based on established and ascertainable facts(12); taking part in any venture or undertaking which is unethical or dishonest or capable of impairing human dignity or integrity(13); Using any manipulative methods or techniques designed to create subconscious motivations over which an individual has no control(14) .

I just can say that this is extremely shameful and very much unfortunate.


Md. Adil Hossain M.A (Prev) Mass Communication A.M.U, Aligarh

1 comment:

  1. Well written. Pay a little more attention to the fonts and how it looks eventually on the blog, especially to your readers.
    Does this bring in some more of the ire?