Thursday, 12 July 2012

TEA@MCC Inaugural [2012-13] - A Report

Dr.Sridhar addressing the members of TEA
The English Association’s Literary activities for the new academic year, took off to a flying start with its inaugural today at 9:30 am by Dr. Sridhar Krishnaswami. The Principal Dr. Alexander Jesudasan was the Guest of Honour, and the Bursar Mr. Sunderaraj presided over the function.

The Principal Dr. R.W. Alexander Jesudasan who spoke on the occasion, dwelt on the need for developing one’s communication skills not only in the academic environment but also in all walks of life. He also spoke on the various tie-ups that the Department of English had entered into with universities abroad, especially with Queen’s University, Belfast.

Dr.K.Ganesh, President, TEA, welcomed the Chief Guest. The Chief Guest of the day, Dr. Sridhar Krishnaswami took a nostalgic stroll down memory lane, describing his association with MCC. “It’s wonderful being in MCC… It’s seductive. The more you stay away from it, the more you realize it’s importance, and the more things change, the more they remain the same!” he quipped.

Paying rich tributes to the memory of Prof. Bennet Albert, who taught them in his own ‘informal, inimitable style’, he also had a word of appreciation for the Department of English on the various literary activities that are organised all through the year, like the Poetry Reading Fest, Creative Writing Fest, Cultural Fest, Quiz, etc.

Highlighting the need for developing one’s language potential, he said that, although some of us focus on American literature, some on Indian, Australian etc, the bottom line is the English language.
Excerpts from his Speech:

“One of the things that I learnt from my former Editor (now a nonagenarian), is the proper style of writing in the English language. When he talks to me about the language of writing, he used to say, “English is such a beautiful language. Why do you have to write harshly?” In those days some of my articles used to be very harsh, with hammer and tongs. The problem, according to my Editor, was not the English language but my choice of words. The word ‘hate’ for example. ‘Can’t you be less harsh’, he used to ask me. ‘dislike’ / can’t see eye to eye etc can be better substitutes, he said. 

“Much of the troubles in India are caused by frivolous writing. We’re a country with different religions, cultures, civilizations, and so we try not to be insensitive – not to create communal discord. That’s the reason, whenever there’s a communal discord, they don’t mention the community at all. There was a reason why they did it. they didn’t want to inflame passions. The one attitude that any international reporter must have is to be sensitive to the environment you’re in – an awareness, not just to the laws of the land, but also to the unwritten laws of the society around you. 

You don’t have to be a good communicator. What the world’s looking for today is not a good communicator but an effective communicator. You can have a good writing style and still not be effective in communicating your mind. Hence, it goes without saying that, the message is more important, because, a person can take a lousy message and still communicate it effectively. In the same vein, an ineffective communicator can make a good message look lousy. 

I’m a fervent admirer of Bill Clinton, because of the fact that he’s an effective communicator. He can address your TEA here in Chennai, sitting thousands of miles away from you, from Washington DC., and be very effective at that. Whereas, take the case of the Vice President Al-Gore. He’ll be sitting in your sofa at your home, but will speak like, he’s sitting 10,000 miles away. 

Hence, if you want to convey a message, ‘effectiveness’ is all the more important. Literature at the BA/MA/PhD level is important, and there’s no doubt about it. But, you’ve to be effective in your communication skills in English.

Moreover, woeful inadequacies in the target language make them resort to speaking in their mother tongue. In private universities, just over 20% of the students are from TN. That’s the same environment in MCC also. Hence, it’s all the more imperative that you try to speak effectively in English. 

There’s nothing wrong in copying a style – but you can’t plagiarise the other person’s material. Today, you don’t get any reporters. They’re only opinion writers. He/she gives his/her own views instead of news , which is a sad state of news reporting today. There’s a lot of difference in the way political ideologues write and in the way academics write. ‘Being racy’ in style is what matters today.” 

Dr. Sridhar ended his speech by saying that, people should not only be effective communicators, but also write on the issues facing India like water, poverty, economic problems, subsidies, etc. He then answered a few questions posed by the students and staff members. Later, he declared open the new website, designed and crafted by Manivannan Ganesan of III BA English literature. 

The event drew to a close with the vote of thanks by Prof. Abitha.

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