Volume 95, Issue 31

Friday, October 26, 2001
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London prepares for protests

Media pioneer visits Western

Students become alumni in mysterious ceremony

Professor criticizes ban on gay blood

MSA lecture discusses Islam

Police pursue possible sex stalker

The world at war

Media pioneer visits Western

By Uroos Rizvi
Gazette Staff

You may not want to name your first-born son Doordarshan, but it's a great place to learn journalism.

Western has a distinguished visitor for the fall semester who has international journalism experience most can only ever dream of.

A controller for news and current affairs at Doordarshan, one of South Asia's largest television networks, Nilima Harjal is currently with Western's faculty of information and media studies, while researching electronic media and government.

She said she originally planned to do her research at Carleton University, but the arrangements could not be made. Western was her second choice, but nevertheless, she said she is enjoying her time here.

"I find that it was a blessing in disguise – this university seems to be the best in Canada," she said. "The faculty is a very strong one and it is an honor to be here."

Harjal explained what began her career in journalism.

"I was very fond of speaking, I was a state debater – that possibility took me to radio," she said.

While directing the science cell of all-India radio, Harjal began work with the BBC in co-operation with Doordarshan.

"BBC radio has a liaison with the Indian government. They would recruit people from India for two to three years and take them for their Hindi service," she said.

Harjal not only produced a live daily current affairs program on BBC radio, but also hosted a viewer-based program for three consecutive years. It was known as "Hum sey Poochiey" – the Question and Answer program.

While working with BBC radio, Harjal applied for a higher position and, as a result, she became the youngest station director at Doordarshan.

She was later promoted to the controller of news and current affairs.

"I have three wings under me," she said. "One is the current affairs wing, the other is the news wing and the third is the transmission wing, which actually runs the transmission."

Harjal sees Doordarshan becoming more like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, however she noted Doordarshan can never be out of the clutches of the government. "Even the government wants a mouth piece," she noted.

Harjal said she thinks Indian broadcasting is mirroring the West in various ways, but adding its own ethnic flavor and originality.

"Image matters in India, where as in Canada, it's a more personality-oriented kind of show," Harjal explained, comparing how young attractive news broadcasters are preferred in India over senior broadcasters presented in Canada.

"In Canada, the news is presented in a 'chatty' style that makes the viewer feel comfortable. Some of the newscasters are very bold over here, they have been here for ages and they are loved by the viewers," she said.

Harjal has been working for Doordarshan for 20 years and believes her research at Western will benefit her work in India.

"I keep looking for opportunities in the future and keep grabbing them when they come my way. I want to reach the top of my field," she said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001