SANATAN DHARMA COLLEGE (Lahore), AMBALA CANTT.
Organizes One Day National Seminar cum workshop
“INDIAN MODELS OF CRITICAL THINKING AND MEDIA LITERACY – ISSUES & CHALLENGES”
“भारतीय आलोचनात्मक चिन्तन के प्रारूप एवम् जनसंचार शिक्षण – वाद-विषय एवम् चुनौतियाँ”
Date -4th March, 2017, Saturday, Time – 9.30A.M., Place - SEMINAR HALL.
SPONSORED BY- INDIAN COUNCIL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES RESEARCH, CHANDIGARH.
ORGANIZED BY- Departments of Sanskrit, Mass Communication, S .D. Human Development Research & Training Centre, Hindi, Punjabi & Library.
Dear Sir / Madam,
यदस्तिनास्तीति य एष संशयः परस्यवाक्यैर्न ममात्र निश्चयः। अवेत्य तत्त्वं तपसा शमेन च स्वयं ग्रहीष्यामि यदत्र निश्चितम्॥ बुद्धचरितम्
अर्थात् क्या (यथार्थ) है और क्या (यथार्थ) नहीं है – इस संशय में दूसरों के वाक्य (ज्ञान) मेरे लिए निश्चय नहीं हैं। अपनी तपस्या और इन्द्रिय संयम से मैं उस निश्चय (यथार्थ) को स्वयं ग्रहण करूँगा॥
In any society, ‘culture of critical inquiry’ strengthens the social system. This becomes more important when we think of a mature democracy. It motivates people of a society not to accept things passively; but rather to make a logical inquiry to assess the implementation of policy by the ruling class. Modern scholars’ opinion is that critical thinking empowers people to critically analyze information generated by media or from any source that leads to their active role in democracy. This spirit is called active/participatory citizenship that strengthens democracy. Today, when people are heavily dependent on media for opinion making, the growth of participatory citizenship depends on how people perceive media messages. The term critical understanding of mass media emerged in the recent century after the concept of media literacy established in academic world, but the thought of critical thinking and critical analysis of information is very old. Its roots are found in thousands of years of ancient Indian literature, hundreds years of the old Greek school of thought, and hundreds years old Chinese philosophy.
Today, we are surrounded and influenced by huge information generated by various channels of mass communication. All are in a race to garner our attention for various purposes, including profit. Obviously, there is some risk in this new media age with the inundation of messages. The need for ‘Media Literacy’ is being increasingly felt so that people could select appropriate messages. Scholars advocate that we need to analyze information from many sources, not just media. Dunas (2013) states that Media and Information Literacy (MIL) bring together the concept of media literacy, which refer to the ability to understand and use media functions, and information literacy. This information could be provided not only by the media, but also by, for example, libraries and archives. The joint term of MIL makes the comparative analysis of modern and ancient thought of critical thinking more relevant as in olden times Indian scholars developed a culture of critical evaluation of information whatever its source had been.
To understand the ancient Indian thought on media literacy and critical thinking approaches of media literacy lets us see what scholars of MIL say about their own subject and then we propose Indian approach to the MIL: as Thoman (1999) considers that at the heart of media literacy is the principle of inquiry. The Journal of Media Literacy Education (JMLE) elaborates the thought on its home page: As an extended conceptualization of literacy, Media Literacy education helps individual of all ages develop habits of inquiry and skill of expression needed to become critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active a citizen in a world where mass media, popular culture, and digital technology plays an important role for individual and society. The Media Literacy Project (1993) advocates that media literacy skills can help children, youth and adults in the following ways:
· Understand how media messages create meaning
· Identify who created particular media message
· Recognize what the media maker wants us to believe or do
· Name the “tools of persuasion” used
· Recognize bias, spin, misinformation and lies
· Discover the part of the story that is not being told
· Evaluate media messages based on your own experience, belief and values
· Create and distribute our own media messages
· Become advocate in change of our media system
Roots of Critical analysis of information in Ancient Indian Thought
The concept of ‘critical thinking’ emerged in India in Vedas- basically meant- “to know” and they touched upon all the fields of knowledge including social science, science, human behavior, and other various subjects. Since the seminar focuses on ancient thought of critical thinking, the elaboration of Rigveda is particularly relevant to the context. This is the first book of hymn that talked about the existence of universe from scientific point of view in its10th Mandala (section)… (Nasadiya Sukta 3,000 BCE)” and then present a structure that tells us how to make critical inquiry about it. Since Rigveda’s era until the 12th century, Indian thinkers developed critical inquiry/thinking in social, education system and the same spirit for analyzing and evaluating the every kind of knowledge and information. The six main systems of Indian philosophy Vaisheshik, NyayaShastra, Samkhya, Yog, Mimamsa, Vedanta made their contributions in various areas of knowledge (e.g.) are known as ‘art of interpretation’ and ‘ critical thinking skill’.
The models from the text have potential to teach critical thinking for all kind of information including today’s media generated information. The terms and expectations of media literacy can benefit from the Mimamsa School of philosophy as it aims to give rules for the interpretation. Even Lord Buddha spoke on every aspects of life and taught critical thinking skills to the common man for processing every kind of information. He himself appealed his listener not to accept his discourse passively but rather critically analyze it comparing it with their real world experience. In essence (Srivastava, 2013) he says that do not hurry to believe anything, even if it has been written in the scriptures. Do not hurry to believe in anything just because a very famous teacher has said it. You should test anything people say with your own experience before you accept or reject it. In his words:-
तापाच्चछेदाच्चनिकषात्सुवर्णमिव पण्डितः। परीक्ष्य भिक्षवो ग्राह्यं मद्वचो न तु गौरवात् (Ashvagosha, 1990) - “After experimenting with my statement in a critical manner only than it be accepted not because I am a great person. Likewise gold is checked for its purity by certain measures”.
Following Buddha’s philosophy Acharyas of ancient Nalanda University developed models and theories of critical thinking. More so Jainism in order to prove the moral arguments, developed the concept of probability which is called Syaadvad (theory of probability). It is very helpful in the process of critical thinking even today.
Fusion of Indian & Western thoughts of critical thinking
The whole ancient Indian thought (e.g. Rigveda, Mimamsa, Nyaya, Buddhism and Jainism) motivates people to be fully conscious while encountering every written word or discourse. In ancient India, Vedas text was highly respected among people, yet Nyaya Shastra taught how to critically analyze the Vedas that contain fundamental of existence of the universe. MIL concepts teach us how to evaluate various informations comparing it with our own real world experiences and recognize bias in media messages. Indian scholars in ancient times advocated that receivers should have a critical eye towards all kinds of messages and also compare it with real world experience (e.g. Buddha philosophy, six system of philosophy).
Even in today’s age of media technology, the above question still persists. Indeed, Media Literacy Scholar Hobbs (1998) observes that determining the Truth of media presentations has become increasingly difficult in an age of increasing diversity and ease of access to information. According to Canadian school of thought one of the major principles of Media Literacy is that all media are constructions (or versions) of reality. In its ability to instantaneously preserve a moment of time in space, a media image creates the illusion of verisimilitude, or life like quality. We must remember, however that the media can capture only a brief instant, without the context that gives it meaning. Indeed, the very presence of the media often affects what is being recorded. Subjects often act differently when they know that they are being photographed (Minister of Education, Ontario1989).
In view of above critique Media Literacy analysis begins with the sharp understanding of the limitations of information system that limits the depiction of reality. Most modern scholars of media literacy agree that ‘Critical thinking’ is a mandatory skill for becoming media literate e.g., Silverblatt (2001) states that media literacy promotes the critical thinking skill that enables people to make informed decision in response to information conveyed through channel of mass communication. In the same context he writes that media literacy is first and foremost, a critical thinking skill that is applied to the most of source of the information we receive: the media.
The basic question that arises in the mind of a learner is how those skills are to be acquired? Although, the modern scholars deliver a lot on the question, it however, requires more clarity. Indian ancient texts contain such models that give answer to the question.
The following model that determines three stages for the critical analysis of a message was in the basic of all ancient literatures known as six system of philosophy, yet it is in the elaborate form in NyayaShastra (Gautam) that depicts model in following pattern.
ANCIENT MODEL OF INFORMATION INTERPRETATION
शास्त्र (Knowledge System): First of all one must understand the Knowledge system as much as possible. There is no relevance of critical thinking until and unless one understands the system in its true form. For instance, how the system functions, who is responsible for its functioning and who is supposed to do what according to the duties assigned to the concerned persons---are relevant queries.
युक्ति (Reasining): Logical reasoning is second mandatory condition for participating in the process of critical thinking. It should be based on the understanding of the system. If one does not have knowledge of science of reasoning, their week questioning will draw no conclusion from any form of information or knowledge.
अनुभव (Experience): According to the model of critical thinking, one’s experience of real world does matters in logical processing of the information.
Relevance in the modern context:
The above ancient model is relevant in present perspective in various ways. Modern Media Literacy experts (e.g., ML resource guide, Ontario, 1989) emphasize that media consumers must have an idea of media system i.e. who owns the media? How media works? Potter (2004) in his “Cognitive model of Media Literacy” talks about the knowledge structure containing five domains. One out of the five is “understanding of media industry” –that means one’s good understanding of the media system will make his or her good control over information influence. The above ancient model talks of the same thing in a broader perspective presenting a wide frame work to understand the system in totality. It also enriches the modern concept by underlying the point that one need to train in art of reasoning as critical analysis will be of no use for want of strong reasoning.
The Art of Questioning in Indian literature:
The above models of critical thinking presents an outline of the conscious approach of ancient Indian scholar towards information. But, in ancient India, learning the art of right questioning was considered the first condition to critical analysis of information. Indian tradition of knowledge (Angiras, 2009) makes it sure that competent seeker must know four levels of question answers.
· The first types of questions are the questions which ought to be explained categorically (एकाँशव्याकरणीयप्रश्न). So accordingly let us put forward the first query - “Does the term Indian Critical Thinking make any sense?” This type of question can be answered either in yes or no since the question is clear in respect of both syntax and semantics.
· Second types of questions which ought to be answered are with a counter question. These are called प्रतिपृच्छाव्याकरणीय. accordingly, let us put forward the second query for evaluation- “Is question and enquiry (प्रश्न एवम् जिज्ञासा) one and the same?”
· Then there is a third type of questions which can be set aside and which are called स्थापनीयप्रश्न. Accordingly let us have the third kind of query made to Buddha- “Is there Ataman(soul)after death or Does God exist?”
· And the last but not the least type of questions are those which ought to be explained analytically and then answered- these are called विभज्यव्याकरणीय. Accordingly, let us deliberate on the query i.e.-“What is the working model of Indian questioning techniques of defining critical thinking?” For this we need adequate specifications, clarifications and analysis from various angles.
The usefulness of the above questions in present context can be best understood in the light of thoughts of modern media literacy scholars with Center for Media Literacy (Thomas and Jolls 2005) who opine that: to be a functional adult in mediated society one need to be able to distinguish between different media forms and know how to ask basic questions about everything we watch, read or hear.
So this seminar will help us understand how the symbol system of a message influences its interpretation by different people; how symbols that are selected for a message tap into an existing attitude, knowledge and understanding of the world.
1. What makes this message seem realistic or unrealistic?
2. How does this message fit with your lived experience with this world?
3. How are various social groups represented?
4. What social and ideological messages are parts of the message subtext?
5. What kind of behavior and what kind of consequences are depicted?
6. What type of person is the reader to identify with?
7. What is omitted from the message?
8. Whose point of view is represented?
The above discussions about various models underline certain kind of discussions and arguments that create “misinformation” in the system that mislead the masses. If a receiver understands the above points, he/she can have good control over misinformation. Its relevance is proved itself, today, wherein bulk of misinformation is the biggest challenge in the era of huge expansion of various channel of mass communication. More specifically, today, when, paid content and public relations (PR) are being mixed in news which is also a kind of misinformation that requires more logical analysis by media users so that they can differentiate between the both. In this context some modern scholars (e.g., McQueen, Jackson and Molony 2011), on the basis, of their research point out that-how seriously the encroachment of public relations(PR) into our news and its potential affect on the democratic life of communities should be judged. They found that for want of media education or proper training people could not detect PR content in the news.
In today’s “media saturated” world, media is heavily dependent on statement journalism (statements of prominent personalities) throughout world. In this scenario an opponent in any part of system attempts to impose single point of view through media, it generates misinformation. So above model has practical potential to judge “Misinformation” in the information system; it may be media or any other source.
Above all relevance of Nyaya as whole text in 21st century can be understood through following points.
1. Save you from “Emotional belief” and sweeping in influence
2. Help to check our own thinking system
3. Help to check our prejudices and perceptions
4. Promote and develop a scientific and critical thinking
This seminar hopes to find a complete, comprehensive, consistent, and unified query that would include all the partial queries about media generated truth and knowledge in terms of critical thinking. But can there really be a unified query technique or critical thinking of everything in media present? Or are we just chasing a mirage or in pursuit of a chimera? There seems to be three possibilities-
(1)There really is a unified critical thinking technique or critical query which we will someday discover if academicians of east and west are smart enough and encourage Media Literacy exchange programs.
2) There is some established critical thinking technique or critical query about media generated knowledge, just an infinite sequence of queries that describe the media efforts to know more and more accurately. But a school of thought is of the opinion that Media Literacy cannot be antidote against harmful effect.
3) There is no theory of critical query about truth and knowledge as events cannot be predicted/ understood beyond a certain extent but occur in a random and arbitrary manner.
We feel that the philosophy and models of critical thinking or critical analysis of information, deconstruction of misinformation from ancient Indian literature have answers to the modern conceptual and research related questions of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) and ‘Media Literacy Education’ as well. If the related material from ancient Indian literature is analyzed in modern context it will enrich the area of ‘Information and Media Literacy’ in various ways.
[Convener gratefully acknowledges the academic contribution of various scholars, thinkers, intellectuals, social activists, books and websites for this write up. Convener also acknowledges the unconditional academic contribution of Dr. Pradeep Rai, Assistant Professor, IMC&MT, K.U.K.]
साहित्यशास्त्र एवम् आलोचनात्मक चिन्तन (शब्द शक्तियाँ एवं गुण-दोष)
न्याय दर्शन एवं आलोचनात्मक चिन्तन (यथार्थ एवं अयथार्थ ज्ञान)
वेदान्त (सोपाधिक और निरुपाधिक भ्रम एवं आलोचनात्मक चिन्तन)
मीमांसा (शाब्दी भावना और आर्थी भावना एवं आलोचनात्मक चिन्तन)
जैन दर्शन (स्याद्वाद) एवं आलोचनात्मक चिन्तन
बौद्ध दर्शन (सम्यक्ता की अवधारणा) एवं आलोचनात्मक चिन्तन
योगदर्शन (चित्तवृत्ति) एवं आलोचनात्मक चिन्तन)
Department of Sanskrit acknowledges your right to choose any topic of your convenience/ conviction/ scholarship/ understanding related to Indian Tradition/ ethos and it’s under currents.
P.S. - 1. No T.A. & D.A. is admissible.
2. Confirmation regarding participation along with written Paper (Sanskrit/ Hindi/Punjabi/ English) along with soft copy must be submitted for the onward submission to I.C.S.S.R., Chandigarh (It is must) latest by 28th January, 2017. Only then you will be given time slot for presentation.
3. Computerized model/ graphic based Posters presentations on the related ideas are also welcome. All posters will be given special time for explanations.
4. Kindly respect the time for the smooth functioning of the seminar.
5. Kindly do no embarrass us by registering the names of those who are not physically present in the seminar.
Ashutosh Angiras, Prof. Manish Goel Dr. Pradeep Rai Dr Rajinder Singh Convener Organizing Secretary 1 Organizing Secretary 2 Principal 09464558667 Dept. of Mass Comm. IMC& M T, 09466596782 email@example.com S. D. College Kurukshetra University,
Ambala Cantt Kurukshetra
Organizing & advisory Committee-
Dr. Uma Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Sanskrit, S. D. College, Ambala Cantt.
Dr. (Capt.) Vijay Sharma, Head & ANO, Department of Hindi, S D College, Ambala Cantt.
Dr. Balesh Kumar, Librarian Head, S D College, Ambala Cantt
Dr. Nirvar Singh, Head, Department of Panjabi, S D College, Ambala Cantt
Dr. Chaman Lal, Department of Pol. Science, S D College, Ambala Cantt
Prof. Tejinder singh, Department of English, S D College, Ambala Cantt
Dr. Naib Singh, Department of Commerce, Rajiv Gandhi Govt. College, Saha, Ambala
Prof. Gurvinder Singh, Department of English, Rajiv Gandhi Govt. College, Saha, Ambala
Prof. Sonia, Head, Department of Mass Communication, Akal Degree College, Sangrur.
Sh. Piyush Aggarwal, TGT Sanskrit, Govt. Sr. Sec. School, Sector 28, Chandigarh
Dr. Rajesh Sharma, PGT Sanskrit, Govt. High School, Ugara, Amabala.
Dr. Ruchi Mehta, PGT Chemistry, Govt. High School, Ugara, Amabala.
Dr. Gaurav Sharma, G S Ayurveda Medical College, Pilkhua, (UP)