KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – The oldest University in India honoured Mother Teresa of Calcutta with a seminar and film show to mark conclusion of her birth centenary, 12 August 2011. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje in the present day Macedonia on 26 August 1910 and the year long celebrations are scheduled to end on 26 August 2011. Some 230 Masters and Post Graduate JMC students took part.
The Calcutta University programme started off with two Robindrosangeeth prayer songs rendered by MA students of Journalism & Mass Communications (JMC).
“We are indeed privileged to host this seminar entitled ‘Mother Teresa and the Media’ in our department,” said Head of JMC department, professor Dr. Tapati Basu who moderated the panel discussion.
“It is in the tradition of CalcuttaUniversityto honour persons who contributed outstanding service to humanity,” said Dr Basu citing celebrations held in CalcuttaUniversityto mark 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, earlier in May 2011.
Dr Basu also recalled with pride how Mother Teresa got her BA degree fromCalcuttaUniversity, in 1964.
Incidentally, Calcutta University is also the first one to introduce the department of JMC in India.
Among the five panelists were Prof Gaston Roberge SJ, founder-director of Chitrabani Jesuit Communications and currently teacher of Film Studies at St Xavier’s College Calcutta. He spoke on ‘Mother Teresa as a media icon’ whose “image drew attention and triggered emotion on the basis of her charism” serving the poorest of the poor.
Dr Seba Pradhan MD, the wife of Dr Bardhan who looked after Mother Teresa during her heart ailment atCalcutta’s Woodlands Nursing Home in 1989 gave personal testimony of Mother Teresa handling the media. She cited an instance when Mother Teresa was flooded with huge negative press on her and her sisters, in 1994 when Christopher Hitchens featured Mother Teresa as “Hell’s Angel,” in British television.
Film maker and SIGNIS-India president Mr. Sunil Lucas gave instances of Mother Teresa while not being media savvy she communicated to the masses through her simple yet persuasive words and compelling deeds.
Mr Shyamal Baran Roy, a veteran journalist with the Press Trust of India, had the privilege of covering the Mother Teresa beat for some 30 years. He spoke of covering Mother Teresa from the perspective of a professional journalist. He also noted that over the years, the Missionaries of Charity Sisters have come a long way in dealing with journalists.
The seminar convenor, Fr C.M. Paul SDB gave a powerpoint presentation on the topic highlighting general media coverage of Mother Teresa through newspapers, books, films and film festivals.
Sr Lynn MC, the vice-postulator of Mother Teresa Cause represented Sr Prema, MC Superior General.
Among the guests present were retired Bishop of Baruipur Bishop Linus Gomes SJ, and Fr Andre Bruylants SJ director of Jesuit Development Office, Prof Uma Shankar Pandey HoD of JMC Dept,SurendranathCollegefor Women, Kolkata, Prof. Aloke Kumar (Visiting Lecturer JMC, University of Calcutta), Prof. Snehasis Sur (Guest Lecturer at JMC of CU) and several others. Loreto College Calcutta principal Sr Christine Coutinho paid a brief visit. Coadjutor archbisop of Calcutta Thomas D’Souza and the Education in-charge of the archdiocese Fr Moloy braved the rain and had to return as they could not locate JMC department on second floor of Hardinge Building.
The seminar concluded with screening of the first ever 1969 docufilm (51 minute) made on Mother Teresa with British television anchor Malcolm Muggeridge called “Something beautiful for God.”