Media industry doesn’t serve the vulnerable sections!
Let alone farmers and the rural people!

eight_col_micfreeThere is now a new media revolution, so much use of, so-called social media has changed the way people use the media industry consumption.
The 2014 general elections saw the rise and use of social media and let us give the Modi campaigns from the very beginning for the deployment of this powerful tool.

Now, there is a real revolution going on in the communications tool. In the use and misuse of media power the governments and the industry also play roles in educating the people. Unfortunately, just the reverse is also happening.  In a democratic society the ruling party, its leader, why its many tools like the concerned ministry with its own divisions like the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Prasar Bharathi, play their roles.

But lately, the world over it is the private channels that set the tone and temper of the public service broadcasting services. Yes, there are still some channels like BBC and even   the Qatar-based channel that do a great public service.

We can’t say the same thing about the news media and the broadcasting services. In the USA no one, it seems, to believe the private TV channels.

There is so much competition that in order to capture the share most of the services deteriorated into sheer false propaganda. So too the fake news industry!

So, we seem to live in a chaotic world, the so-called cultural tastes of each major country seem to differ variously. One more late development, especially in India is the monopoly of news channels by big capitalist industrialists.

Why in state like TN we see the media monopoly stretching beyond reasonable limits. One channel established by a cinema-cum political party had created almost a monster. The entire society is corrupt by 27/7 entertainment, TV serials. Coupled with this lowest common denominator rule, the visual media today, in our considered opinion, the standards of communication is highly corrupt.

Indian democracy is not well-served and vulnerable sections excluded!
Today we live at the centre of a democratic revolution. 200 years ago the world population was in around 1750less than one billion people. Urban population   in 1850 was almost miniscule. Today, urban population alone is growing faster and is at 4.5 billion! Damming of rivers, 24 thousands of dams in existence. Fertiliser consumption was almost nil in the 1850s.Today it is more than 300million tonnes of nutrients. In 1750sspecies extinction was almost unknown.50 thousands have taken place. Atmosphere ozone depletion even in the 1950s, it was unheard of sixty thousand columns of ozone.

These are some of the destructive impacts made by atmospheric pollution. Today, cities like New Delhi have become unliveable and the citizens and also the government don’t know what to do to save the world and, nay, planet. In this world that is getting hot every day, the temperature hitting up every day, there are dire predictions of natural disasters, psunamis, earth quakes and vanishing lakes and rise in sea levels and what have you. Its more than6 billion people! Around 1900 the use of fresh water, some 50Kilo million pear. Today, the demand for fresh water nearly 400 kilo.

Who can explain and educate the world?

It is the very governments that must play decisive roles.
But see how the big powers are doing things.
What about India’s roles and the media?

In 1985 there was no mobile phone! Today? In 2000 there were 800 mobile phones! And about one billion internet users! The  incumbent PM and his predecessor, never for once met the people face to face and conducted the press conference as did Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru!

Mr.Modi conducted, as per reports, only five preconference and the latest one for nearly 90minutes he almost answered his own questions! It was a well prepared much in advance and the interviewer never put a counter question and challenged the PM!

As many editorials questioned, this was no press conference and the much hyped Editor’s Guild took exception for Rahul Gandhi’s criticism but not the interviewer!

With such ignorant bliss, we the people have no option but to lie low. For how long we don’t know!

Why such a question here?
Readers of Agriculture& Industry  Survey might wonder!

AISPlease hear our voice. Brand building has become such an obsession with the industry leaders that we have had a long time  that some big names kept coming in the media and on public platforms  those unsuspected readers, yes, and most readers of such magazines like ours, all devoted to some lost causes, might not see the realities of the world. You see ,after all money power matters in this highly materialistic world, where everyone doesn’t even bother about their own freedoms, self-worth or self-esteem, they all go by the crowd mentality and try to compete with each other in the same blinded frenzy.

We should know that we live in a world of illusions!

Once the big industry captain was held up as an icon. then came the corporate warfare, much dirty linen was washed in public, the corporate values were thrown aside and the court battles were fought, won and lost! What sort of corporate icons these people are! So too in recent times another corporate governance battle was  fought in a billions of dollars worth of an IT giant.

What corporate governance these people were bragging about. Yes, we have to be sometime less than polite to tell the truth to the common man, the unsuspect reader!

The much respected CEO, the Chairman of the Board was literally thrown out! What sort of corporate governance we are talking about here?

Then, to behold! The very gentleman who succeeded  the ousted Chairman came out with the report that the old team judged things correctly!

What this icon had to say? He has to sadly confess!

Is this a model of governance.

You see, our media industry is now undergoing  turmoil, the print newspapers are declining in attracting readers. Some of the great names are facing crisis.

In this environment where Internet, various devices are replacing news in a serious sense and social media is taking a revenge of sorts is diverting readers of traditional media towards instant news, titbits.

Now, comes the most damning indictment of the IT giants, Facebook, Google and other mass news portals are accused of spying and carrying Russian funded ads and that interfered with the US Presidential elections. And also, the IT news sites are also, very soon, would be found to be destabilising governments, there are allegations of Russian interference in European and US affairs.

This raises some serious issues.

What about  the largest good of the largest number of people?
Media, as we see, has a role to play. A more committed a more open-minded and let us say a more morally accountable role to inform, education and enlighten the peoples, not in one’s own country but also in the larger world community.

Otherwise who would serve the larger cause of the world?
How to tackle  the unceasing rise and spread terrorism?
These are some of the questions that public-spirited media must answer besides, championing the real lost causes?

You see ultimately brand equity is all about the character of the person who earns it. Unfortunately, in India, the peculiar colonial history of India had conditioned the Indian character only of some disabilities, an innate sense of inferiority etc.
Thus we find great compromises in the character of even the top names  of the corporate ladder. You find them compromising with their advertised values by seeking a licence or awarding a book by bending themselves low before an incumbent government. The media too is meek and willing to build up a person with an eye on some  rewards.

Thus media brands or media created brands don’t last even one’s lifetime! So, be warned!

How to combat poverty and hunger?

Right, who would champion the cause of the most disorganised, most divided farmers, the rural people, and the villages?
Anyone who stands up for such cause please comes forward!
We at Vadamalai Media had championed such cause. And yet what reward or recognition we had got so far?

Of course, we don’t work for any rewards, material or non-material.

We find fulfilment in reaching out to such  noble causes.
Our brand equity is just that commitment to larger causes.
Agriculture and education  are our  fields  of priority. We are there for now some half a century. So, this is our brand pull, our brand value.

So, please judge, gentle men and ladies  at the ladder of brand equity, take us also along with you! We have no aspiration s for any material rewards, please excuse us for saying so, rather it seem, with some less than politeness!

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!