Why? People don’t want to read anything about agriculture!
Such is the current public interest in agriculture!
Farmers’ news has come to mean only farmers’ suicides and other distress news only. Why this state of affairs? We wonder!

sliderimage2Vadamalai Media is an agriculture media company engaged in its priority goal of highlighting agriculture and  rural India issues and we have been in this field for the past quarter century and more. We have been publishing not just in English but also the regional languages too. Our Tamil agriculture monthly is there for long and it is a highly popular and well-sought after publication in Tamil and also in Kannada language as well.

For those engaged in Tamil journalism, in the daily newspaper and also the more weekly glossies, rather in cheap newsprint, we are talking here more as a journalist fraternity, we like to share our experience that high quality magazines in Tamil, covering as we do on all topics of great public interest, also in some  very specialist niche segments like promoting of Tamil language  growth, why even in such abstract areas like the current philosophical and other fields like original thinking in new intellectual debates, we do write and try our hand in writing in Tamil where this sort of experiment has not been done, our success must be an eye-opener.

So too in agriculture. Many in the past had tried their hands in English language brining our annuals publications and also others who tried in agri/rural journalism they have failed, this is not a happy expression but failure is the blunt reality!

Of course, the very thin audience is a problem. But then even those who have launched broadsheet format they are visibly struggling for a market share.

Why, even the once glossy journalism in weekly magazines soon after the 1975 Emergency was lifted, they are all now suffering after the advent of the Internet.

Anyway, why we say all the things is just to encourage ourselves not to give up hope!

Yes, there is a need to have a media to cover the what is perhaps the largest segment of the Indian economy, the agri sector, and the rural sector. Of course every media expert would analyse this challenge to media existence in such niche segment.

Yes, we have learnt a login the sales and marketing and distribution side. Even the once mighty glossy weekly now writes and sends individual copies to prominent potential subscriber asking for a subscription!

So, we should feel shy of sharing this rather embarrassing details.
All this we say to show how much more challenges we face as a standalone media house.

Vadamalai Media now has achieved a brand status and those who search for serious writing in some serious fields, as we have pointed out be it politics or some public policies  where some sensitive issues are involved like say in the issue of freedoms, privacy etc, where do the Indian readers to look for?

We dare say we are the one media who dare not discard any serious questions of policy. Anyway, now here in this issue we have carried for the benefit of readers, the general readers as well as specialist ones interested in agricultural reforms, there are great many examples of what can be done positively in agriculture sector.

The story we carry in this issue is about what is a great agricultural country, small in geographical size but ranked in the first place in transforming   the favourable geography and climate, namely Netherlands.

Some of its achievements are unbelievable. It is the number two count try, after the USA, in the export vegetable seeds and vegetables and other services.

The point we want to convey to the agri policy makers in the country is to see what Netherlands is achieving. We often talk of Israel or even New Zealand is doing in agriculture and dairying.

Every country is unique in its own way. Even we can learn from some of the African countries.

Surely, India has to change in the agri sector in some radical ways.
For one thing, we have been long obsessed with the abstract politics like Socialism and Communism. May be it was a mistake to adopt the Soviet Russian model of economic development. May be not. But then it is a serious mistake, we say, right now, the ruling dispensation is simply not having grip on the agri sector.

You see agriculture affects so many people at various levels. So, one solution doesn’t fit for all, for all regions, for all income groups in agriculture sector. So, why not take up the Netherlands model of free house cultivation on a large scale?

Then you can also take up the Israeli experiences in some other areas.
Of course, there are examples of failures, as when Chandrababu Naidu took up the Israeli model and failed miserably.

Even such expression is wrong, we admit. So, one failure doesn’t mean the other experiment would also a failure. Some daring decision to learn from successful experiences, from agriculturally endowed countries we have to go for.

This month’s cover story is one such attempt to give the much suffered Indian farming community a best shot, so to say.

Only those who dare and act has the chance of success. Success seldom goes to the timid.

Given the Prime Minister’s darings to take bold decisions, urge the PM to turn his attention to Netherlands’ agriculture.

There have been two brutal murders of two eminent journalists.

gauriOne in the South in Bangalore where Ms.Gowri Lankesh, a radical writer of, of course, extreme views, was brutally gunned down outside her home. The other murder, after a few days of this one, was in the far Northern state of Tripura where a TV journalist was also brutally murdered.

The extreme irony is that in India with such a vast network of well-established media industry, some print media outlets are more than centuries old and also there is a great tradition of high quality journalism, both in English and in the regional languages, there is not much of an outraged shock and dismay.

There nowhere, as far as we had watched for many days now, that any known veteran journalists or newspaper organisations had come out and expressed deserved condemnations. The TV news channels which had also well-established networks and yet no channel had come out with any meaningful debate or discussion.

This is really surprising and shocking too.

While there are some instances where senior journalist was issued anon-bailable warrant! How many journalists in their routine jobs can afford to engaged high-profile lawyers and get relief?

Also, even the most respected news channel faced a CBI raid!

So, anyone interested in the field of freedoms of the citizens, freedom of the press and also the rights of individuals engaged in sensitive jobs like journalism and news anchoring must be very concerned about the future of news freedom and news gathering.

There is not even a whisper, as we see, from the most senior professionals in media.

Even the very quality of news as we see is far from any standard.
The most vociferous newspapers who talk much about the news quality don’t have any news worth reporting and thus the readers are deprived of genuine news.

So, what is the sort of democracy India is claiming to represent?

Public Perception vs. Public Opinion!

What all these have to do with us, India and the Indian public opinion?

media_digitalchannelsYou see, there are certain developments, short and long term that we don’t perceive in our day to day preoccupations! A day’s news by whatever means we read, through the twitter or other social media outlets, as this trend is growing widely ,through the younger generation as ‘users’, not as the traditional readers, is driven widely by sort of trending as they say.

Print media is now terribly old fashioned, it seems. The readership of the print media is declining in the West, why even now in India. The online media, the use of the Internet based mobile media in particular is terribly fast growing and grips the attention of one and all, young and old, urban and rural users.

TV news channels are almost exploding, with some 900 odd ones and we don’t know how this TV news would evolve. As it is, the TV news channels are also owned and operated, taken over and also transformed into propaganda weapons in the emerging economic and political transformation.

But what it has to do with our own domain: the rural and agri sector?
Does a narrow segment like the rural and agri sector has any place, any space?
A question worth asking and also finding an answer!

We all seem to be rushing and rushing all the time! Towards what? That is not a question asked by anybody, high and low, arrogant and assertive?

Just now there is a new book before us: A Feast of Vultures by Josy Joseph (Penguin).We ask our readers o read this timely book to know where the new India is going.

Here are some thoughts. We know the role of media is shaping public opinion. But things are changing so fast that we are likely to be distorted by the very same media, both old and the new, public opinion is both shaped and articulated by a responsible media. But is the media sector or industry, as it is evolving, evolving with any self-discipline or self restraint?

We are afraid it is not! See the TV channel owners of these days. It is said by veteran observers that real estate owners and other sort of adventurers are entering into this sector. The most dangerous developments are also here.
India’s top industrialists are buying over the online (TV) media for the heck of warning and rendering unemployed even the most gifted of the TV anchors.
In one day, this happened and there was none to raise any voice!

There is a ministry of Information and Broadcasting, now luckily headed by a senior leader and let us hope there is now a new awakening to turn Indian media scene into one of healthy and positive and liberalising force. And thereby, let us hope, we give the Indian people a truly free media environment, a new sense of resurgent freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and thereby a truly liberated Indian society and people.

In the new book referred to above I find that how the old India of the pre-liberalisation era is now replaced by a new era where new generation of a new political class as well as the new class of businessmen who don’t give a thought to twist and turn the policies, however, correctly or through some hunch crafted to some ends and yet they end up as serving just the opposite?

Damn the common man, the poor and the under privileged. They are not the concern of our new rulers but it is only grabbing power, feeding your greed and succeeding. The ultimate symbols of success or call it by whatever names you c fancy, the Mukesh Ambani’s new opulent home Auntilia!

For every Ambani there are many new ones, the same ambition, the same drive and also the same environment to breed and catalyse! Where is democracy going? Anyone asks? Where is the new economy marching anyone cares to question?
Democracy? Oh, what is promised since the ages? What we are delivered now?
Serious questions! But there are answers, don’t panic!

Democracy must reach out to the common man? Where is he? He or she is in the remote limits. The most ignored and silenced thereby.

Freedoms for all! That is democracy. There are a thousand obstacles and yet thousand possibilities. Luckily, there a Constitution that ensures our rights and obligations. But we have to articulate the public perception. Basic moralities are the gift of gods. So, we can be sure that the public perception would judge the rulers, the wrong doers and also the rightful ones.
That is what is the purpose of the media values, as we see it.

Public perception had always played a role in history. That is what had made revolutions inevitable. Even today, we have to live carefully. Otherwise there is danger to our polity and peaceful lives. Right and Wrong! Good and Bad! Public perception is all about this only!

Public opinion? That is the job of the media. There are many perspectives here. One can choose one’s priorities.

Climate change? Environment? Rural development or rural depredation? Urbanisation or smart cities?
Who can articulate, who can communicate?

This is the burden of the media, be it old or the new. There are so many negative features: in Chhattisgarhi, Raigarh, Jindals, Vedanta and other natural resources guzzling new industries are causing a great deal of wrongs. 5 lakh death in 2013, half in India and China from air pollution. Coal alone a great cause of this pollution. Statistics are too many.

Only hard working, dedicated few individuals, journalists, media men and women can brave the many hostilities and expose what cause so much misery for the mass of people.

That is high media! It is for us to choose! Goodbye!

First, the farmers’ suicides hit the new government. Even as we write there is a young farmer had committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh in Prakasam district, ironically when the Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi was on the AP soil laying he bhoomi puja for the new state capital. The CM and other state heavyweights are all celebrating the great vent.

InaugurationIs this not a greater irony when the development of the states, the country’s development dialogue is the topic of the day.
So, a pulses price that has another skyrocketing season is on us.
What sort of an agriculture system, ministry, and administration we are having.

We don’t have even a proper monitoring system. Where do we turn to when we want to know the sate of agriculture and progress of rains, sowing and cropping patterns?

Where is our achievement in the progress of science and technology?

Now, our digital India must help us first to do these priority issues.

In fact, what are our development priorities?
Have we really spelt out yet?
We are afraid we haven’t done anything in such serious manner/
We talk of UN reforms? What are our credentials?

We have to open our world, our country, and our world concerns in a big way. Our media both print and TV channels are still primitive, in the sense we are timid about many things.

Unless our Dhoordharshan is liberalised, unless we aspire for some poor imitation, even if it comes to that, we have to spire to imitate, say BBC. If Al-Zazaara can world fame and recognise where are we, a big nation and a very big tradition of tolerance etc. See the ground reality now? Is it wrong if the world laughs at us, the way we conduct our affairs?

Anyway, let us turn to agriculture and here we like to say that we need a vigorous agri media space.

Vadamalai Media, our company is the pioneer in agri media; we publish three magazines, in three languages besides an online media (www.agricultureinformation.com).

Indian agriculture system must have an updated weather monitoring system.

Rain patters and related cropping areas and other information must be made available at the farmers’ doorsteps.

This is now possible through our man y mobile applications.
Pulses prices have caught pubic attention because of the urban consumers’ concerns.

India is the world’s biggest pulses producer and also the largest consumer. So, we need a very well-organised pulses growth plan.
In Karnataka, in Kalaburgi district, there used to be four lakh hectares of toor dal crop, this year unfortunately, this year the crop extant fell to one lakh hectares, owing to deficient rain fall.

But then the agriculture minister must be a vigorous person, he must visit such regions, agri officials too must be seen touring the major pulses growing areas of the country.

Pulses traders are the cleverest of the traders. They hoard and raise prices.

This time, by using stringent laws, food and civil supplies ministry had turned the department into a law and order sector.
We have imported this year from all major pulses growing countries, from USA to Australia to Myanmar to Russia and of course in a major way from Canada.

Let   the government    make a new plan, let us turn this crisis into an opportunity to make better planning and better forecasting.

It is easy to criticise, but we also know unless we point out the alternatives none benefit. Our plea is to use the latest available technological tools so that farmer stands to benefit by growing   the various essential commodities of mass consumption.

Private trade in India is very much in the pulses import and distribution picture. So, it becomes more important the ministry and various state departments become active partners in administering a corruption-free regime.

Technology drives the new opportunities
Specialised media defines the core strengths of a society and the country.
India is still borrowing from the West. For ideas, why even full-scale print magazines.

Print-Vs-DigitalPrint media is facing challenges from the Internet media.  The days we take the media as just printed newspapers and magazines. Those days are gone.

Also, the every idea of media freedom. Now, media is both an ideal and an industry.One the one side we see the media being controlled and curbed by corporate entry.

In India itself we see big takeovers by corporate houses the big TV channels.Thus, ordinary citizens’ voices, viewpoints are drowned by the big industry interests.

Why, even the Prime Ministers and powerful leaders don’t like to interact with the media, no interviews are granted nor any reasons given. Democracy to that extent is stifled.
As a business and an industry it is the new media, the Internet-based new devices and gadgets that are pervasive in the media space. Google, Face book and other social media, twitter, mobile devices rule the day.

The BBC of course scored high. There was also the reported speech of the latest director or head of the DD. In India we have had so many government -controlled government companies. One such remaining entity is of course the DD.

The government’s attempt to reform the public broadcasting, from the days of V.B.Keskar, the Nehru minister in charge of the radio is known.

Today, where are we?

Now, under Mr.Narendra Modi we seem to be getting ready to take on the new Prime Minister’s penchant for razzle-dazzle and display of a showmanship in its making!

The private media. It not strictly private, not owned by small people but by big corporate is about to display its own muscle.
The corporate control of the Indian media, both print and the TV is not yet a fully reported story.

In India we have already the syndrome, a national syndrome, to praise those in power and underplay those who lost power.
In spite of this syndrome we have an established mindset.

So, we see not a balanced reporting and exposure but a biased one of continuing to praise one party and its sycophants and also giving very biased reporting in the regional media.
So, our politics and public is also very one-sided.

Now, coming to specialised media, like the ones dedicated to say, agriculture and education and other spheres like environment and even science, it looks that is a lost cause!
There are also no in-depth edit page articles anymore.

It looks the best period in Indian writing and reporting was in the 1930s, 40s and 50s and afterwards we find the whole scene changed.

With the coming of the regional politics dominated by film personalities the whole gamut of reporting, the emergence of the TV news channels the whole atmosphere changed. Not for the good?
Yes, we are constrained to say so.

There is now the new threat of the online media. The very existence of the print media magazines and newspapers is under serious threat. The famous take-over of the prestigious Washington Post by the Amazon billionaire founder had shaken the faith of the media world totally. Jeffrey P.Bezos has to make the print version viable.

What did he do?

He has now come out with the idea of putting the Post through his Kindle sales!

Yes, he has come out with many new insights. He says that there is a cognitive overhead; the praise is Bezos’s own!
The number of decisions readers have to make before they get what they want is a new growing problem.

This principle was the driving force behind Amazon’s one click buying decision! It is one of the Amazon’s guiding ideas for a new app being introduced that will deliver the Washington Post to some of the Amazon Kindle tablet owners for free.

It is the first formal collaboration between the two companies, the Washington Post company and Bezos, own Amazon.

The new app. with pre-loaded stories, pictures and even advertisements was designed with close collaboration with Bezos. This is announced by an India tech brain, the technology officer with Amazon, his name being, Shailesh Prakash.

Anyway, the point here is that India is also now embarking on its foreign reach mission. Mr.Narednra Modi is on the offensive so to say to take India to world audiences.

His digital India plan also fits well with his technology expansion into diverse areas. Our Indian media is also facing serious challenges.

One, the credibility gap. India is not seen as a nation of very independent media practitioners. There is every challenge to the independent media.

Yet, as we have been experiencing in our own limited, small scale manner, there is also great deal of opportunities to integrate the print and online media reach.

Our agri portal, www.agricultureinformation.com, is now the world’s largest portain in this specialised segment.
Online subscriptions are the only way to reach out a wider audience. New and innovative tools are coming up.

E-commerce opportunities are also opening up.
Online audience is also growing fast.

Our farmer’s information delivery model, farmer’s exchange, is a promising business model and there is scope for unlimited experiments to take out the audience reach to a more global scale.

It is one thing for any media to win credibility. This would be our core pursuit.

It is another thing to grow in an exponential manner to bigger market. This we are already experiencing growing our subscription drive online. There is much promise on the horizon.

Every day is a day of opportunity and innovation. That is the media industry’s popularity even in times of disruptive technologies. Anyway, media industry is a very exciting field. It shapes the minds and kindles new thoughts for new business ventures.