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AJK Mass Communication Research Centre
Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India
A Profile

Anwar Jamal Kidwai founded the Mass Communication Research Center (MCRC) in 1983. It was started with funding from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and with university cooperation between Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and York University, Toronto, Canada. In founding this center, Anwar Jamal Kidwai received active help from Jim and Margaret Beveridge, both important players in the international documentary movement. Under their supervision, MCRC was set up as a teaching institution and a production center for the UGC educational programs on Doordarshan. In 1991-92, it received a Japanese equipment grant of Rs 18.68 crores to upgrade its equipment and facilities, making it one of the most generously endowed public institutions. Today the annual budget of MCRC is Rs 2.7 crores and an expenditure of almost 2 lakhs is incurred on each student per year. It is recognized as the only media institution in India that offers a Masters degree in Mass Communication.

The AJK MCRC is an institution that has opened up new spaces and horizons in media education. By offering a multi disciplinary curriculum and a space where students from all over the country, media professionals and other scholars could interact, create and reflect, the center has made a significant contribution to our contemporary media culture. This is evident from the large number of socially committed, independent and innovative documentary films, television programmes and other media works produced by professionals who learnt their craft at MCRC. This is because the center has had a tradition of respect for different and differing views, a climate of intellectual and creative freedom and a robust spirit of academic and functional autonomy.

About 14 batches of students (approximately 400 students) have graduated since 1983 comprising an important media work force in the country today. The alumni have received National awards like the Chameli Devi Jain award and International awards like the prestigious Golden Gate Award in San Francisco, the Mumbai International Short & Documentary Festival Award, the Film South Asia Award (Kathmandu) and other film and television awards. Its alumni have been awarded prestigious scholarships and grants like the Fulbright and Inlaks scholarships, the Cardiff and Commonwealth fellowships and the India Foundation for the Arts grants for media research.

Courses at MCRC:
AJKMCRC primarily offers a two years M.A. and Ph.D. in Mass Communication. The subjects covered in M.A. range from Still Photography, Radio, Sound for the Media, Visual Communications, Communication Theory and Research and Traditional Forms of Entertainment in the first year to Media Appreciation, Video and Television and 16 mm Film Production in final year. The course is highly specialized and requires professional and technical expertise of an order different from other general academic courses in the university. Several of the papers (e.g. Traditional Entertainment and Visual Communication) are taught entirely by Visiting Faculty for whom the UGC allocates a separate grant. The syllabus is considerably enriched by the contributions of Guest Speakers who provide a valuable interface with the professional media community outside the university.

Character of Academic life at the center and the need for Autonomy:
The curriculum and activities at the AJK MCRC involve both academic/theoretical work and hands-on production. This twin requirement has been achieved by creating and sustaining a highly rigorous and disciplined work ethos. In this sense, MCRC is different in its functioning from other departments in the university. For instance, MCRC students have to meet a high attendance requirement of 75%. Further they are required to work for much longer hours at the center as they have to produce media products along with regular academic course work. Their schedules cover the entire working day and six days of the week. Vacations and holidays are restricted to a minimum. The percentage required by an MCRC student to pass examinations is 50% as against 33% or 40% in the rest of the university. This rigour is scrupulously maintained so that the students can maintain high professional standards and also learn to use the equipment safely and responsibly. Similarly the faculty working hours far exceed the time stipulated by the UGC as they are responsible not just for classroom teaching , tutorials and examinations but for supervising of hands-on production from conception to final post-production. A large number of technical staff supports this work intensive course structure and production practice at the Centre.

Because of its unique work ethos, the center has been conceived as autonomous and has functioned thus from its inception. It is for the same reason, that it has its own administrative and financial offices. Since it requires a high degree of professionalism and specialization, Stature 22 (as amended) provides that the center be run by a Board of Management comprising of some of the best media professionals in the country. This presently includes eminent educationists and media persons like Professor Yashpal, Shyam Benegal, Shabana Azmi and Man Mohan Chaudhuri.

Contact at MCRC:
Dr.H.R.Kidwai, (Director)
AJK Mass Communication Research Centre
Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Nagar,
New Delhi-110025 (India)

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