Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Can we ignore the money? The future depends on it

It is a well know fact that not so long ago Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani was a good friend of a certain Mr. Ramnath Goenka who owned the then & now well known Newspaper the Indian Express

However, the relationship between them soured and as the days passed by The Indian Express, a broadsheet daily published by him carried a series of articles against Reliance Industries and Dhirubhai in which they claimed that Dhirubhai was using unfair trade practices to maximize profits. Ramnath Goenka did not use his staff at the Indian Express to investigate the case but assigned his close confidant, advisor and chartered accountant S. Gurumurthy for this task.

In this time of trouble Dhirubhai Ambani did what only he could do. He took an entirely different approach to the problem and if anything decided to increase the ad spends of the Reliance group on the Newspaper. His thinking was that the publication would eventually get bogged down by the weight of the money spent on the newspaper. As it turns out Mr. Ambani suffered a stroke forcing the newspaper to turn their attention to the fallacies of the government & that ended the quarrel.

What would be interesting is what would happen if things were like that today. What if the situation was the same, & only the protagonists different? Let me explain….

Today the biggest advertisers in the Indian Media space are the Big FMCG companies. There is Reckitt Benckiser, P&G and the big boy HUL. But does anyone know who the fastest growing advertiser is? Or who is increasing their spends the most Y-O-Y.
Let me tell you, it’s the Government of India (GOI).

Think about it, it’s only logical isn’t it! They are the one “Company” that has as many “brands” as Unilever does (ministry of telecom, Ministry of forest, ministry of external affairs, ministry of family planning, ministry of infrastructure, and so on and so on) and as these ministries start to understand the potential of media their spends on Media are only going to increase right!

Let me share some numbers with you here. There are close to 7000 (yes, 7000) major government portals & websites providing government information to all internet users in India. After all of this, India is still ranked 113th on the United Nations e-governance Index (Source; the United Nations e-governance survey 2008)

With the government more eager than ever before to showcase their initiatives & policies and with the number of people getting on to the internet in India increasing rapidly Indian Media companies are in for a windfall of advertising from them!

In such a position will Indian Media companies be in a position to speak against the government? What will Newspapers do? How will News Channels react?
If the government spends 10-20 Crore on a News channel will the news channel still be in a position to speak objectively about the government & its policies?

For the journalist it’s the real deal. Commercialism v/s journalism! Who will win?

For now, you will think, obviously journalism right!! What’s all the fuss about?

But it’s not all that simple & straight forward. News broadcasting today is more than just reporting News. It is a industry. Scores of people work with News channels, their lives and livelihood dependant on it. More so, scores of people INVEST in News channels. It is a business and like any other business they expect the money to flow back in, twofold!!!!!

In the Indian scenario where the only source of revenue is from Advertising (subscription revenue is non existent in India) the BIG advertiser becomes all important. The Money he brings to the table difficult to ignore!!

The last count says that there are close to 110 News channels in India (including National & various regional languages). Many of these News Channels are small & region centric. They will value the Government money so so much more!! What is important is that will they be able to ignore it? And give unbiased commentary

TELEVISION NEWS media is one of the most important catalysts that have an invariably important role to play in shaping up public opinions, sentiments, and dogmas. Due to its vast intrusion in public life, it has the power of creating an enduring impact on society and culture of a region & also to SHAPE SOCIETY & ITS OPINION.

It is hence immensely important that the Media remain neutral and detached as they have a colossal responsibility to shoulder. The future of a potentially prosperous country is in their hands!

The road ahead will not be easy. How successful they will be in their endeavor, only time will tell…

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mayawati, the enigma!

The freshest news of the hour as I write this is that the CBI has ordered a probe into the NOTE Garland episodes of Shree Mayawatiji ! (& I don’t blame them really)

Very few women in recent times have been able to capture the type of media frenzy & footage or time spent on TV as Mayawati has been able to achieve.

So, why does she get all this adulation & attention? & is it warranted?

What’s important is we understand who “MW” (short for her from here onward) is and infinitely more importantly what she REPRESENTS
She represents the poorest section of the Indian Economy or Caste structure, the Dalits. Dalits are a mixed population of numerous caste groups all over India & indeed South Asia, and speak various languages.
While the caste system has been abolished under the Indian constitution there is still discrimination and prejudice against Dalits. Since Indian independence, significant steps have been taken to provide opportunities in jobs and education. Many social organizations have encouraged proactive provisions to better the conditions of dalits through improved education, health and employment.
Quota systems have been made, to give this backward community a fair chance {Although I am truly against the quota system (for Dalits or even RESERVATION FOR WOMEN..and that is a discussion for another time) } Colleges with exclusive inclusion of Dalits have been formulated…MNC’s have been literally ordered to provide these Castes with added privileges but through all of this MW stands as a beacon of DALIT hope & pride. Being pampered as the ‘Dalit Queen,’ Mayawati has carved her own place in not only Uttar Pradesh politics but also in Indian polity. Stakes are that she might turn out to be first Dalit woman prime minister for the country.
Enjoying her fourth stint as chief minister of a state that was notorious for the worst treatment of the untouchables and Dalits, she has very candidly assumed the role of a state maker. Today, she enjoys Z plus security cover and a huge bank balance that has led to a lot of uproar in the opposition circles.
It is exactly this topic that I would like to touch upon? Is there an elite disdain of Mayawati? I think there is! And I think there should be!!
Don’t get me wrong here…I don’t intent to put her down, she stands for the right cause, & maybe at some point her motives and means were also pure, but they cannot be anymore. In the process of standing up for Dalit rights she has made so much money!!

That aside, the show of money in a way that has been done is ridiculous! What are we (as the rich or NON DALIT) supposed to think about the dalits then and what are we supposed to think of their representing party & party leader?

Where did they get so much money from? What do they intend to do with all that money other than their own uplifting? And if they do have their own resources to look after themselves (as is evident) then why do they need us or our support in terms of discounts/exemptions & reservations?

It is easy to see where she has made this money from … Indian politics, for the last 50 years has witnessed that Uttar Pradesh decides the party or coalition at the center. Mayawati being the chief minister of the state and her party becoming the single largest in the state assembly holds sway to what happens in the Center.
In crude terms she holds larger national parties “with their balls” and in return the national parties shower her with more and more money (I don’t matter if its black o white)

In this all conquering situation she has all the power she needs to really do some “GOOD” work & some serious uplifting! She can take these people forward, along with her. She can provide them with a rare and genuine chance to live a fair life, earn a fair wage and give their children’s future a fair & just chance

But she chooses to make more & more statues of herself, she chooses the NOTED garlands and she chooses to spend 250 CRORES of the states fund for BSP celebrations!

For the 1st time in a long time, after Mr. BR Ambedkar there is somebody who can really do something for these people & that is her truest achievement…

Will it be glory? or will it be "TERA MUU KAAALA" like it has been for the millions of other dalits before her....
only this time....SHE MAKES HER OWN CHOICE!

How history will take her name is now entirely upto her & her alone, Ms. Mayawatiji…the true enigma of Indian politics, GENDER & CASTE.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Most awe inspiring.. everyone should be aquainted

Off late I have been exposed to a tremendous Marxist personality from our History Called Pash

Pash for those of us who don’t know him was a REVOLUTIONARY PUNJABI MARXIST POET.

“He published his first book of revolutionary poems, Loh-Katha (Iron Tale) in 1970; his militant and provocative tone raised the ire of the establishment and a murder charge was hastily brought against him. He spent nearly two years in jail, before being finally acquitted.
On acquittal, he became involved in Punjab's maoist front, editing a literary maga, and was awarded a fellowship at the Punjabi Academy of Letters in 1985. He toured the United Kingdom and the United States the following year; while in the U.S., he became involved with the Anti-47 Front, opposing Sikh extremist violence.
The brilliant journey of poetry was cut short in the year 1988 when Paash who was in Punjab for a holiday from the US was shot dead by a group of Khalistani terrorists”

His most amazing work below....

Sabse Khatarnak
Mehnat ki loot sabse khatarnak nahi hoti,
Police ki maar sabse khatarnak nahi hoti,
Gaddari, lobh ki mutthi sabse khatarnak nahi hoti.
Baithe bithaye pakde jana bura to hai,
Sahmi si chhup me jakde jana bura to hai,
Par sabse khatarnak nahi hoti.
Sabse khatarnak hota hai murda shanti se bhar jana,
Na hona tadap ka, sab kuch sahan kar jana,
Ghar se nikalna kaam par, aur kaam se loutkar ghar aana,
Sabse khatarnak hota hai,
Hamare sapno ka mar jana.