‘An editor is one who separates the wheat from the chaff – and prints the chaff,’ said the American lawyer and statesman Adlai Stevenson. This is not true of Pradip Thomas who, as editor of Media Development from 1994 to 2004, was adept at the lost art of winnowing. Pradip left the staff of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) at the end of last year to take up a post as Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. We bid him farewell.
Pradip N. Thomas studied at the University of Madras, India (BA and MA in English Language and Literature) and at the Centre for Mass Communication Research, University of Leicester, UK (PhD). His doctoral thesis was on development communication, locating it in the larger, historical context of development and underdevelopment in India. The study compared and contrasted two models of development communication, one mainly informative and the other transformative.
Pradip was Associate Professor at the Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai, India (1987-90), where he taught communication theory and practice for an MTh course. He also helped with a post-graduate diploma course in communication offered by the Ramaraj University in Madurai.
In 1990 he joined the WACC staff at its international headquarters in London as the person responsible for coordinating communication projects in WACC’s Asia Region. In 1995 he was appointed Director of Studies and Publications, an extensive area of work that in 2003 became the Global Studies Programme.
Over ten years he contributed a number of articles to international publications as well as chapters to several books. He is editor of Refugees and their Right to Communicate: Perspectives from South-East Asia (2001), co-editor with Michael Richards and Zaharom Nain of Communication and Development: The Freirian Connection (2004), and co-editor with Zaharom Nain of Who Owns the Media: Global trends and local resistances (2004).
At a farewell dinner held in London on 10 December 2004, WACC presented Pradip with a copy of John James Audubon: The Watercolours for the Birds of America, marking his passion for wildlife and his role as Coordinator of the WACC North American Regional Association, and a copy of The Times Book of English Verse to mark his interest in English literature and the many years spent in the United Kingdom.
For WACC’s series of booklets ‘In search of common values’, Pradip wrote Communicating Difference. The booklet’s final words sum up his communication philosophy as well as that of WACC’s Global Studies Programme: ‘There is a need to listen to and be aware of the more nuanced understandings and explanations of the human condition. The sustainability of long-term justice and peace may well be dependent on the acknowledgement of and commitment to a larger understanding of diversity.’