Friday, July 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Of swadeshi spirit and videshi money: disquieting developments in media

Hari Jaisingh’s article “Of swadeshi spirit and videshi money” (July 5) about the recent decision of the government to permit FDI in the print media has so many political, economic, cultural and security dimensions (not to speak of xenophobia) to the issue that the author has been constrained to give an encapsuled analysis whereas the coverage of full matrix of problems would have required a series of articles.

Let us start with some basic perceptions of the issue. The days when persons adopted journalism as a career imbued with a missionary zeal to work with sincerity of purpose and honesty of intentions can only be savoured in the spirit of nostalgia. Many would agree that the contemporary indices of qualitative journalism have undergone a sea change. In not too distant past, journalism laid more emphasis on dissemination of knowledge about public affairs than on material well being.

“The Economist” sometime back wrote pragmatically, “News business used to be a craft, but now it has turned into a manufacturing operation.” The accent now is on marketing. Hundreds of crores are known to have been budgeted by various newspaper groups to poach on circulation of its rivals by using marketing gimmicks like invitation prices, subscription rates with matching free goodies, offering package advertisement deals in concert with rivals as allies etc. The newspaper editors like to have prefixes like CEO. Press correspondents prefer to go to press conferences and briefings if arranged in starred ambience with culinary delights. So the bottomline for Indian journalism is to decide at this juncture whether it wants to carry on with perceptions of cost-benefit or on profitability-performance considerations. If the answer to it is found after introspection and deliberations, the issue of FDI will become relevant or non sequitur.


Lastly, it will be pertinent to relate here for the benefit of protagonists and antagonists of the FDI proposition that America did not let Rupert Murdoch get control of his American media corporations till he had relinquished his Australian citizenship and acquired American citizenship.

R. C. KHANNA, Amritsar

Foreign investment: Mr Hari Jaisingh’s well-argued article “Of swadeshi spirit and videshi money” (July 5) makes absolute mincemeat of the BJP-led NDA government’s policy of foreign direct investment (FDI) vis-a-vis the print media. I fully share and whole-heartedly endorse the points adumbrated in the article.

The “foreign investor” coming to India to invest in the newspaper industry pertinently reminds one of the historic East India Company and the company’s incredible exploits/antics. Thanks to the lure of foreign money, the company gained so much clout in the socio-political life of the country that too in a short span of time. It literally enslaved the country without encountering much difficulty/resistance and the aliens merrily ruled over it for centuries together. Is history going to repeat itself?

The powers that be would be well advised not to play into the hands of vested interests. Indeed, they (the powers that be) must pause and ponder over the grave implications of the potentially dangerous policy, as Mr Jaisingh has fervently pleaded. The time to act is right now; it may be late tomorrow.

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

Hasty decision: I have read Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article with interest. I fail to understand what prompted the Union Government to allow the 26 per cent FDI in the print media now, when earlier it was opposed to this. Even the parliamentary standing committee on print media, which tabled its report in the Lok Sabha, had rejected a review of the 1955 resolution of the Cabinet, which had banned FDI in the Indian media. Despite this, the Cabinet went ahead in allowing FDI in the print media. Moreover, the statutory watchdog of the Press, the Press Council of India, the Indian Newspaper Society, the Editors Guild of India and above all the vast majority of the people are opposed to the entry of FDI in the print media.

This hasty decision may compromise national interest and freedom of the Press. The print media should not be treated as a mere consumer item, but be seen in the larger national interests. You have very rightly said that 26 per cent is not a small sum. Who knows 26 per cent could one day become 62 per cent if the BJP’s present thinking takes a further nosedive.


The swadeshi & videshi business

It is unfortunate that in the last decade or so most of the editors of the national Press, particularly the English Press, have lost their swadeshi vision and values and have lost their direction with the result that they have often started indulging in what can be called double-speak, double standards, making confusion doubly confounded.

They criticise the introduction of foreign money in the print media on the plea that it would lead to polluting cultural life or changing the basic orientation of the Indian mind or the foreign money would “control the thought process and free swadeshi thinking from the grassroots upward”, but they have been encouraging all these years the imposition of a foreign language as a medium of instruction over helpless and hapless children. Why have they become mute, dumb and blind to this cultural and mental cruelty being daily inflicted on crores of innocent children? Is the English medium instruction not polluting the cultural life and changing the basic orientation of Indian mind or what you call controlling the thought or Indian thinking from the grassroots upwards.



Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |