‘Technology evolves but challenges only make women stronger’

‘Technology evolves but challenges only make women stronger’


Photojournalist Saraswati Chakravarty has literally spent a lifetime behind the lens which has afforded her a unique vantage point from where to observe and document many pivotal moments in India’s journey as a nation. Recounting her diverse experiences as a trailblazer for women in the field, Saraswati feels that while technology has certainly made things easier, it has also somewhat curbed the human element which has defined much of her pioneering work.

Q1…. How have you observed the PR and Communications landscape evolving in the recent years, particularly in terms of digitalisation and technological advancements and what implications does this have for professionals in the field?

Answer…. Digital techniques have emerged as a big advancement and rapidly, in the PR and Communications sector. Easy access to communicating methods like e mails, whatsapp, virtual conferences and meetings, one to one video interviews etc etc. have made a great impact in the fast development of PR and Communications. At the same time, i strongly believe, somewhere it has lost a personal touch. Though advanced technologies is time saving but digitalisation like social media, personal blogs, private channels, have also created a vacuum in the job sector.

Work from home trend, after the recent pandemic is resulting, in various health issues in the professional field. Also the job/office environment is lacking

Every development has its own pros and cons. However the present scenario is totally based on digitalisation, more so in the PR and Communications sector.

Q2…..As a woman leader in PR and Communications, what are some of the key challenges you have faced and how have you navigated them to succeed in you career.?

Answer… I have been a photo journalist for a period of 35 years. To achieve a prominent place in this communication profession, i had to face a lot of challenges. Mainly when i entered this profession, i was the lone woman, in the male dominated field, way back in 1982, when i was accredited to the PIB, Govt. of India.

The challenge of gender bias was the top most. Initially no male member liked my entry in the said profession. As it is, i had to face a strong opposition, from my conservative family, and I somehow managed to cross this hurdle.

Those days there was no digitalisation, like digital cameras, digital communication system like mobile , whatsapp, social media platforms etc the whole process of working was not as easy as on date, and very time consuming. Everything had to be manually handled and quite tiring. Ut took quite some time for me to win the support of my make colleagues and stick to this profession.

Photo journalists had to be physically present in the spot, which at times had risk of getting beaten up and injured while covering demonstrations protests etc. one such incident happened with me in the year 1987, at Tis Hazari Court, during the lawyers Vs police agitation, outside former police commissioner Mrs Kiran Bedi. suddenly she ordered lathi charge, and I was beaten and my camera equipments were smashed by the police force. I had to be hospitalized in RML with head injuries. But there was no looking back and i continued my job as earlier.

With the onset of digital cameras, colour labs and other faster communication technologies, things became easier for photo journalists.

Though challenges were many, it was only the determination and professional passion, which navigated me to the success in my career.

Q3….In your opinion what unique contributions do women bring to the PR and Communications industry and how do you see them evolving in shaping the future of communications strategies and campaigns?

Answer…. Now a days, women leave no field unrepresented, and PR and Communications Industry is absorbed by more women participation. This has been broadly accepted by even the family members as a good profession, for women folks

Over the years women are more focused and committed as professionals in this sector. mostly the corporate sectors have key PR and Communications post held by smart and capable women, with excellent communication expertise. With advancements in the technical enhancement and digitalisation, women find innovative concepts, to make their presentation, in a given project, which goes a long way in public awareness, leading to strong impact in shaping the future strategies. It is a driving force in women empowerment in achieving high laurels. .Ads, visuals and promotions have a great public impact which in the long run plays a pivotal role in shaping a bright and fruitful future campaigning, in this sector. So contribution of women is highly laudable. Even with challenges, women of today is quite success oriented and possess leadership qualities, striving hard with determination to stand out and earn a benchmark in the PR and Communications industry. With strong competitive Corporate Companies, women put firth their innovative perspectives, to their bosses and get inspired and motivated.

Q4….. With the rise of social media and online platforms, how do you believe PR and Communications strategies are adapting to engage diverse audiences effectively and what role do women leaders play in driving these adaptations?

Answer.. As we are all aware, women are usually growth oriented and PR and Communications sector is no exception. I strongly believe that hurdles are the first step to determination in any field. As i mentioned earlier, coming from a conservative family, i had to cross the hurdle of their opposition to take up this challenging profession. Secondly the competition from the male zoner made my stronger in putting up with them and improve my productivity as a photo journalist.

One picture spoke a thousand words, which was a part of my communication.

Appreciation of a particular shot from the employers and publications, enhanced my vision to do better and best with every passing day. Scope of achieving leadership was less in my job, but yes, after dedicated service,

Awards, recognitions, exhibition of my work, interviews in magazines lead me to leadership. Successful handling of challenging assignments, added a feather to my cap for sure. I had a wide spectrum of assignments which included social, political, sports, protests, rallies etc. Every assignment was a new opportunity to shape my future. Unlike my time social media and online platforms have made easy access to handle the diverse audiences.

Women in PR and Communications hold an important responsibility to meet with the quest of audiences, with innovative strategies to make their presentation effective uts important to focus on candid coverage, best light effects, sound effects etc.

Q5. As the PR and Communications landscape continues to evolve rapidly, what advice would you give to aspiring women professionals, looking to establish themselves and thrive in this dynamic industry?

Answer… As you rightly call it, a dynamic industry, women have a wide spectrum of opportunities to establish themselves and thrive. Fir this one needs to have specific perspectives.

To name a few one needs to be thoroughly focused on the chosen project

Think of innovative concepts, authenticity of information, taste and expectations of tge diverse audiences।

Knowledge of existing market scenario

With strong determination to deliver the best final presentation so as to win the appreciation of the viewers on national and international level

Also studying the background of the allotted project thoroughly is very essential

Final advice is to set your goal and drive ahead with dedication, nothing can stop you from establishing and thriving in the dynamic industry.

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