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.

Time to live through a more turbulent time for India only now comes through! Only now onwards!  The biggest crisis is the credibility crisis!
Who would trust the leaders?
The Prime Minister’s American visit is fine!

1-potoBut will the Indian people trust when it is said that the PM would sign an agreement with the US President to make way for the American nuclear power plant suppliers to set up nuclear facility in India?  Why there is worry and anxiety and even downright some indignation as well?

The Prime Minister, as usual, himself doesn’t say a word. He doesn’t speak out his mind on the event of such a big visit. Visiting USA and getting to meet the President is a big thing. Unfortunately, India doesn’t behave or conduct itself with any degree of dignity and protocol. We have only to see other, even; distant countries like the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, cancels her US visit on the ground that the USA had indulged, in a shameless manner tin spying on the very same president’s phones and other devices.

Now, the scandal of American spying and also with Indians, we ourselves allowing our own government here to do the spying on our own citizens, in such blatant manner and yet no voice is raised inside the  country. Where are Brazil’s nerve and our own nervelessness! In fact, our own foreign minister showed himself a poor representative for India!

We seem to be living at a time when we, as citizens, dont care for our own self-esteem and self respect as a nation. In this very peculiar time of ours we are asked to trust our non-speaking Prime Minister to trust him. And that too on such a momentous subject like nuclear power plant purchase with so many risks and hurdles, like the right of the Indian citizens to get compensation in the event of an accident. Bhopal disaster is very much a live subject to us, even now.
And we have seen how the “liability” clause, if any is simply dismissed by the so-called foreign investor.

Now, as for the atomic power production, we, even now, have to be reassured not just be the officials. This term officials are used more and more under the present government. Even under the current discussion about what the Prime Minister carries in his pocket to his counterpart is not known. Mr.Salman Kurshid is a gentlemen politician we grant but his own credibility is on stake. He had not got this portfolio by the dint of his own merit. So, he has to work extra hard to prove himself.

He must be seen as if he is in close touch his boo. This doesn’t seem to be happening. So, when Mr.Kurshid assures about his boss’s own credibility, to that extent the government’s many voices get lost in the very many contradictions, why even in the very weakening of such an exercise. So, India has to sustain the pain and dismay of the people when the PM meets his US counterpart and when Manmohan Singh voluntarily (?) or Obama’s asking (?) one wonders what exactly the language our PM   would utter?

4-potoThis is greatest of the mystery of the modern day politics and India’s own contribution to diplomacy. We in India haven’t been accustomed to any such high level diplomacy, we don’t trust high level public figures, we seem to be left to languish in the world of weak and very ineffective government officials, however high sounding is their status and how much the very government wants us to believe it, we have no choice but to put the faith in god and only relax!

Yes, such is the level of our democracy. A very, poor concept that in the last 66 years we all believed it had matured to a concept of vibrancy. But where is the vibrancy?

We are all saddled with so many contradictions much ridicule?
Yes, we are now presented with the next two leaders: Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. These two it seems likely are to take over India after the 2014 elections. Now, we see that the whole apparatus of Indian democracy is reduced to a farce about which not many are talking bout.
Even the media is caught in the pressure of its own self-survival.
You watch the high level of discussions on such quality channels like NDTV, NewsX and even the Times Now. At the end of the day we find that we somehow come round to live with the same sort of bogus and farcical debates.

We seem to take Mr.Narendra Modi as given factor. He is, not anybody elese, either from with the BJP or outside. In the same vein, we find that only Rahul Gandhi is presented, not anyone else either within the Congress party or outside.

So, when an intellectual like U.R.Ananthamurthy, from Karnataka says, expresses an opinion, that he won’t like to live in a country that would have Modi as the Prime Minister, the BJP doesn’t react in any wise manner. Why only Modi? Why not other faces? More benign faces?
In the same way, why only Rahul Gandhi? He has by all indicators shown that he is not ready; he is not fit for the job.

But there is a great deal of hypocrisy, every sphere of life, starting from the incumbent Prime Minister to the humble citizens. What sort of a person or personality is the Prime Minister who, out of the blue, opts for Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister?

This is the person who is going to meet US President Obama and also assures him a dilution (in all likelihood) and how else the already reluctant producers could be convinced to come to India and invest? In the USA there are over 100 nuclear plants and yet no new plant has come up lately.

So, we have to live with only with these sorts of very weak, weak-minded and also weak-willed persons to fix our fate over the nuclear power as a solution for India’s long term future.

Certainly, the debate on nuclear power must go on in India. With more vigour and more objectivity. There are great many issues. The new Iranian President, Hasan Rowhani, had publicly stated that Iran would not build nuclear weapons. Great. We, India has to congratulate him. Japan knows to India. The Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Abe, is a nationalist (in the Japanese own sense) and he wants to see Japan emerges as big power in South East Asia. Fine. So, the Japanese might come forward to invest in India. But the Japanese are highly committed to nuclear non-proliferation treaties.

2-potoWhat Indian should do? This question is yet to come with the Japanese official position on nuclear co-operation. India is woolly, even now on so many nuclear issues. Are we a weapon making nuclear power?
Are we willing to sign a comprehensive test ban treaty?

Such questions, the government, officially, won’t talk out.
But what prevents people from talking out. Our citizen groups must interact with Japanese citizen groups. The point here is that we, the citizens, can’t leave the Indian high risk, high security issues to non-serious, non-speaking and shall we not say. Non-capable persons and others who managed to come to the high occies not through laid down Constitutional and democratic ways but through backdoors.

The time to live through a more turbulent phase in India begins. Only now onwards.

The power of political legitimacy!

New Delhi exudes power and authority. Power and on authority on whom?
The people? That is a subject no one asked. Being in Delhi and if you don’t talk of politics, then, it amounts to cowardice. During the Mughal times, then, under the British Indian people did live peacefully or otherwise for some centuries.
Now?

Now, there is democratic politics and that is a positive factor in Indian history. But where are we now? Why all these corruption and misdemeanour?

Intellectuals and ethically minded are also in politics. But there is not much visibility. Even otherwise, those who call themselves intellectuals, writers and poets, the sort of people who are expected to be swayed not by power but by values, truth, transparency, honesty, intergirty etc are nowadays are afraid of powerful politicians.

The new segments like media, may be, not academics, not certainly universities, are scared of political power, political forces. The latest case of Yogendra Yadav, the just expelled member of the University Grants Commission shows how we have become so paranoid of power, that is exercise of brutal power and that too by very cowardice manner, Through some faceless bureaucrats. We know from our interactions with universities, VCs and others, more so through the Central Universities, how discredited some of these universities and also university bodies.
So many wrongs are done and being perpetuated.

NDTV_247Just when the Yadav controversy broke out, on the NDTV debate on September 5, we saw how the farce of appointing 16 VCs for the central universities was done in one or two days!

Is this the way to run the universities?

Also, there is so much frustration in the higher education circles, more born out of poor management, poor signals from New Delhi and where is the light?
We don’t know for sure!

But what we know for sure the rot had set in at the top and it is eating into the vitals of the society. Indian higher education needs a strong hand, before that a well articulated vision. The HRD minister would do well for his own reputation if he takes some bold initiatives and invite some VCs, past and present and also some interested, let us call busybodies to come and interact with him, the minister.
Why Delhi is door hai and so the minister can alternate his interactions in justified nearby geographical locations.

Now democratic governance is at its worst low. There is simply no commitment for truth, transparencey, and ethics. There is so much arbitrariness, so much ignorance and disrespect to intellect that intellectuals in India have become a set of cowards.
What is the point of getting Padma awards and other awards if your intention is to stand by the so many wrongs of the establishment?

So, the Indian intellectuals are not contributing to new articulation and clarifications as to what is Indian democracy achieving, what freedoms are, what other new manifestations of some of the precious concepts. After the scandal over the Edward Snowden and Assange, the Wiki Leaks founder and others had done for individual’s freedoms and human rights have done, it is a poor consolation when we are patting ourselves on our backs that we are democracy.

India didn’t open its mouth when Snowden knocked at our door. See what the rest of the world is doing?

Even a small, tiny nation like Bolivia, we say tiny, when we compare with our vast geography, but Bolivia is a brave nation. It has filed a case against USA as a bully and sued the great power for refusing to let the Equador President place was blocked by USA through other European nations.

The sentiments of even small nations are on par. Where is India and where are our thinking people, the intellectuals, writers and poets, not to speak of the media people?

Indian media didn’t do itself proud for the simple reason that it has now become embroiled in its own credibility!

The point is that Indian learnt to live by the day. Indian politicians have taught us this art. This is very dangerous.

If by any chance, there is so much overwhelming sign on the road today (you have to see the outside of the BJP and Congress offices in New Delhi to see the crows, the number of cars parked outside of these offices.

So, there is a mood swing in the air. If the BJP captures power, it will just undo what the Congress had done so far. The new government might rename the airports, bridges and others that now bear the ruling dynasty.

Why not? You can see this happened in TN and UP.

Where will be the current office holders?

Only the really committed intellectuals and party old hands or the new committed youth cadre, has to bear the burden of the fight for truth, honesty, transparency and also for the few freedoms we have fought for all these years. The RTI, Lokayukta, Lokpal and even human rights as entitlements are all to be fought for as vigilantly as ever!

Beware; there is no alternative except to be on eternal vigil for peoples’ freedoms!

Jai Hind.

news2--621x414As long as people seek for articulations and clarifications there will be need for print media industry!

There is the latest news about the Kolkata-based business magazine, Business world is closed down. Also, some other magazines from other groups also closed down.

The print media industry faces new problems, apart from growth. The very credibility of the  print media industry, with the new unethical practices like paid news has hit the very role of the press, press freedom and also other pressures like circulation dip etc.

The great threat and competition is from the large number of TV channels, news and entertainment channels, also, the decline in reading habits owing to the very many new tech devices, from computers, kindle iPods and other devices. The social media is a great competitive medium for the readers of magazines and newspapers.
We have to live with the times.

At Vadamalai Media, we are of course a niche player. And that too in a field where there is very little scope for any meaningful impact to make.

We are basically an agriculture publisher and as such we have many challenges. In the very English segment, we have of course no visible competitor. It doesn’t mean there is no coverage of agriculture.
In our a quarter century of existence, we have found that there is the Indian mindset.

We have inherited from the British colonialism that rural India is a dark spot! This is reflected from the current policy paradigm too. Even under the latest regime, UPA-II we can see that agriculture is invoked only when there is a drought or a failure of monsoons or some delay in the onset of rains!

Once rains come in time and when the reservoirs are full, the ruling establishment conveniently forgets the agriculture sector and also by implication the rural population.

Or, only at the time of elections the rural voters are called back to voting strategies! Even then, increasingly, the vote bank politics is so practised that seen from Delhi, it pays to give attention and priority that whichever party, mostly nowdays, the regional parties are sought after for their vote-bank politics.

So, even then, the farmers, as a hugely important population is forgotten. It pays to mislead them, rather than enlighten them.
See the recently passed land acquisition legislation. It is all about helping the industrialists to get land cheaply. Not to give the farmers the rightful compensation.

It is very like that of the tribal communities are now asked to give their vote on bauxite mining in the Odisha mining  through the village panchayats, as if the tribal people can decide the future course of their life and fate!

There is a duty to enlighten these people who are now seen as coming under the grip of the Maoist for the various reasons everybody now knows.

The ruling parties or the political parties are now, not driven by any enlightened politics but by the tricky politics. If only there is honesty and truth at the highest levels there can be any meaningful development from the grassroots onwards.

We have in the last 25 years of our publishing experience can say with confidence, not once we had received any response, be it from the agriculture ministry, the ministers, or the bureaucrats or from the very agri universities that are supposed to impart information and an enlightened meaningful  response from the various, changing Vice Chancellors.

The important point here is that for various reasons, be it political or sociological reasons, there is a great gap, even a widening gap between the agriculture policy making and the agricultural people, defined by various ways.

There is gap between the rural people and the urban people.
Even now when the migrating urban population retains much land and links with their rural roots, there is no abiding hope or optimism about the future of Indian agriculture.

The rural countryside is very much linked in the Western societies.
Not in India. Where the links are cut off, mainly, in our opinion, by the way we see agriculture not as provider of food but as a machine that is given the task by the rulers in Delhi, mostly, urban drawn officials, either retired or serving and the politicians class that the rural India is a machine that can be driven to produce food for the Delhi politicians for either producing a Food Security Bill or some other bill that can fetch votes in the next elections!

With this mindset, how can you expect the agriculture media, be it in the English language or in the regional languages to thrive?
So, there is no official link whatever. No departmental links nor any public or private sector interest in rural information and communications sector.

In spite of these negative challenges, we have succeeded (yes we have to admit that!); we have forged ahead with our own wits, so to say.
On a more serious level, we like to say that in India, with al talks about agriculture and all that, our agriculture policy making is still very bureaucratic, why even our politicians, even at the top, is bureaucratic-minded (some of them former bureaucrats themselves!), or those who came to politics by various unnatural routes, why even our party leaders came this way, so the persisting agriculture policy-making is done from outside. Not from inside, from the grass roots realities, farmers voices or their points of views are not sought or reflected in the Indian agriculture policy making

The very world policy is now a bad word, after the much talked about policy paralysis phrase made it further odious.

Also, there are too many selfish elements in the Indian agriculture establishment. Retired officials still holding forth. Why even   some bad political operators making agriculture, word like farmers, small farmers etc an on-going joke.

See the debate on Haryana land allocations to VIPs and making them to escape from the laws of the land. So, the point here is that so long there is this sort of ignorance, illegalities, plain criminal  acts in land grabbing and exploiting the landless, the poor and the vulnerable, there is always a demand for  honest and  ethical articulations of opinion and law-making. Agriculture & Industry Survey succeeded in upholding the sanctity and dignity of the agriculture sector and the rural peoples’ aspirations and their due place in the scheme of things.

To that extent, there will be need for media, print media in particular and agriculture media will have priority claims in the national life.

Our articulations have of course won laurels from far and wide and our online venture, www.agricultureinformation.com, is drawing lakhs of visitors, now it is the biggest agri website in the world!
This proves our articulations and claims!

In all our travels in South East Asian countries, from Sri Lanka to Malaysia to other countries like Philippines, of course China is an exception, where there is not much press freedom, the media is not as good as in India, and we have to admit.

In India, we are still imitating the British mindset.
Once we get education and get a government job, then we forget our natural life style.

Now, there is another reverse trend. Politics is so degenerate that even officials, from IAS to other categories, they all enjoy the government security and even after retirement they go political assignments, be it MLAs, MPs or even as Governors, not to speak of Ministerial jobs!

So, in this adverse environment, dear readers, you must all wonder how we have survived for so long. It is the faith in India, India’s future, its destiny as a nation of great many traditions and heritage, agriculture, rural India and the mass of people would always stand by their traditions and heritage.

Indian agriculture is India’s great heritage. May it thrive in the new environment opportunities? Jai Hind!

Only for the urban sector, urban elite?
Why there is no agri/rural media of any significance in India?
In a country that always takes pride in the Green Revolution!
See the new challenges!

The vast tracts of agricultural, forest lands are being taken away for mining, power plants etc.
Agri/rural sector is being squeezed into more and more defenseless shrinking spaces!

The London-based Financial Times(FT) recently carried a long article on India’s booming media scene. There is something like a  10 crore English speaking, English-reading public for the Indian English-language newspapers. The Times of India, FT concedes, is the world’s No.1 newspaper! Also, when it comes to the Indian language newspapers, they are also booming, and they overtake TOI, and TOI comes only as the sixth largest sold newspaper in India.
But then what about the credibility of the Indian media, both the print and the TV news channels?

Oh,they are the most prone to corruption of all  sorts!
Indian media has not much credibility!
Which country has much media credibility?

Though the FT didn’t pose that question, we like to pose it here?
Certainly, the UK press-both print and the TV, has some degree of high credibility. May be next we might put the USA, may be the French and even the German media.

The Western liberal traditions have much to do with their media credibility too.

In India, there is now so much condemnable fall in standards!

The paid-news is now a menance and menacing proportions of the Indian media fall is now widely  seen and spotted out.

The Press Council(with a much admired no-nonsense chairman) seems not capable of doing anything about this media corruption.

Now, as for the agri, rural media scene, it is as good as dead or plainly unequal to the challenges of the times. Now, with the new economic reforms, announced, the agri/rural sector is very likely to lose much with the latest round of talks and discussions within and outside the various  ministerial groups.

There is certain new legislation like the land acquisition bill that is at the stage of final clearance for tabling in Parliament. Then, there are certain other bills like the new SEZ policy etc.
The point is that the current phase of accelerated development, the speedy urbanisation there is the threat to much of the agri/rural sector.

More and more of the agriculture lands are to be taken over for industrial and housing projects.
The tragedy is that the agricultural land acquisition issue is getting more and more politicised.
Sonia Gandhi, along with her son, Rahul Gandhi, seems to have emerged or projected as the champions of the agriculture lands and rural households!

Anyone cynical about the agricultural lands issue might be in sympathy with the agri/rural sector spokespersons.

This magazine, in its 25th year of publication may be one of the few survivors of this squeeze!
What chance for the agri/rural future in this country.

When the audacious scene is that those who are simply cut off from the rural people, the very people whom are variously described by the power-hungry urban elites who in their bid for arbitrary power could muscle into the rural vote-banks promising the moon and may try to take over huge quantities of land with no room for any chance for the genuine rural survivors.

We, the publishers of this magazine, are directly engaged in  agricultural cultivation! This is not for publicity sake. But to send it the message that full-time politicians, the political class now have also become the country’s new generation or new class of new capitalists! The new oligarchs, the new wealth creators, if not the genuine entrepreneurs. Those who grab agricultural lands, those who are in power or who have just lost power and yet they had engaged while in power in grabbing agricultural lands cheaply and had resold or holding back those very lands for future high prices.
The examples are now abounding in many instances.

Some are high profile cases, why high celebrity cases!

So, we need not elaborate when we ask: what chance for the future of genuine farmers?
Genuine, traditional farmers, farming communities a new charter of rights to protect and also prosper as farmers in this new emerging and  threatening environment where there is so much competition to accumulate wealth, usually, more agriculture properties are being grabbed (acquired legally is a very  improbable current scenario).

Now, we need some definite legislation to protect individual farmers, traditional farmers, also the so-called big farmers!

There is a conspiracy of silence when it comes to defend the traditional farmers.
All the current agricultural policies are staked against the farmers who are full-time into farming.
There are no incentives to invest in any significant way in farming activities that might form onwards might go into next stage of modernised farming enterprises.

New investments, new technologies, why new business models in farming. Say farming for exports, tieups with foreign markets….

Such new opportunities are coming up.

We at Vadamalai Media are getting so many new enquiries as to what government policies are there.

Our experience in promoting new entrepreneurs in agriculture, in biotechnology(in tissue culture in various crops)are all disappointing and very discouraging. What we are writing here might be very evident for our own current agriculture minister, namely Mr.Sharad Pawar himself!

Knowing his present pre-occupations with the current goings on in his own backyard, he would only  realise that make money, big money, create wealth through legal means must be simply next to impossible in traditional farming. At least he must be  talking out about the difficulties in what we are talking about here.

Mr.Nitin Gadkari and many others, everyone who is talking about the current corruption scams and scandals would realise that it is the agricultural land owners who face the threat of  “acquisition” of agricultural lands that are now cheap. This illegalities must be stopped.

A new thinking must be introduced in our land acquisition policy, specially for the private investors, the corporates into new agribusiness activities. There must be reservations for farmers for holding shares in whatever lands they hand over for capitalist ventures.

Farmers share holdings in the companies in their  traditional lands would only give a sense of justice and fairness of feeling, an emotional bonds with the soil that is a sort of sacred trust!

Traditional farming families wont part with the lands so easily and that is why whenever you talk of agricultural lands, you should realise the land is more than just a piece of property. Agricultural land holdings impinge upon a range of emotions, ways of life and belief systems and a sense of values, honour, truth and sense of shame etc come into play.

So you see the series of farmers suicides, farmers who can’t tolerate any sense of shame to his bearing prefer to end his life rather than to compromise and live!

This is just the opposite of what we see in the India of today where so much corruption is growing and there is no sense of  threat of punishment!

Let us learn to approach the agri/rural  sector issues in a more special  delicate manner!