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!