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EDITORIALS

Right to ask
Supreme Court can’t escape RTI
C
ENTRAL Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah’s ruling on Tuesday that the Supreme Court cannot be exempted from the Right to Information Act will be lapped up by all those who expect transparency in public life. It reinforces the dictum that the legislature, the executive and the judiciary are all equal under the Constitution.

On wrong path
Strikers do not deserve any mercy
A
S if the ongoing truckers’ strike was not enough to cause avoidable pain to citizens, the oil sector officers, too, have stopped work to demand higher salaries. With the economy already facing a slowdown and employees in many sectors losing jobs, it is highly irresponsible on the part of those fortunate enough to be engaged in work to indulge in disruptive activities.



EARLIER STORIES

Chief Justice acts
January 7, 2009
Fund of goodwill
January 6, 2009
Painkillers, not a cure
January 5, 2009
Fight against terrorism
January 4, 2009
Warning from Assam
January 3, 2009
LeT’s admission
January 2, 2009
Hasina returns to power
January 1, 2009
Generational change
December 31, 2008
Sonrise
December 30, 2008
Voters’ victory
December 29, 2008


Lawless Noida
Proving to be an unlivable town
T
HE industrial township of Noida was supposed to develop into the pride of Uttar Pradesh, fully utilising its proximity to the national Capital. The infrastructure was of course there but the horrible law and order situation has turned it into a nightmare, instead. There is hardly a day when one violent incident or the other does not take place.

ARTICLE

Attack on Mumbai
Neither forgivable nor forgettable
by G. Parthasarathy
T
HE forthcoming visit of Home Minister P. Chidambaram to Washington, with evidence of Pakistani involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai carnage marks the end of the first phase of India's efforts to seek international understanding and support to compel Pakistan to irrevocably dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism, which it has built to "bleed" India.

MIDDLE

To err is woman
by Chetana Vaishnavi
O
NE of the unfortunate realities of life is that we are human and prone to making mistakes. And when it comes to women we make a lot of mistakes. To put it briefly — in a male dominated world — to err is woman. I shudder in my shoes every time a natural calamity hits our earth.

OPED

An ageing society
Longer life expectancy need not be a burden
by Mary Dejevsky
I
N the space of a week, the writer and long-time editor, Diana Athill, has notched up a brace of distinctions. She received an OBE in the New Year Honours List for services to literature, and last night she won the Biography category of the Costa Book Awards with her memoir, Somewhere Near the End, which makes her a contender for the Book of the Year prize when the results are announced later this month.

Sarkozy bans ads for state TV
by John Lichfield
O
NE of Nicolas Sarkozy’s most visible, and most controversial, attempts to transform the French way of life took effect on Tuesday night. Advertising vanished from prime-time on all state-owned television channels as part of an attempt by the President to create, in his own words, a public television service to “rival the quality of the BBC”.

Time to reposition media
by N. Bhaskara Rao
T
HE global recession of 2008 sweeping across sectors compels the mass media to tighten its belt. 2009 is going to be a year of consolidation and convergence rather than acquisitions and expansion as expected. Nevertheless, thanks to continued political uncertainty and buoyancy in regional language media, particularly rural India, the over-all growth momentum of the media sector will keep up.





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Right to ask
Supreme Court can’t escape RTI

CENTRAL Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah’s ruling on Tuesday that the Supreme Court cannot be exempted from the Right to Information Act will be lapped up by all those who expect transparency in public life. It reinforces the dictum that the legislature, the executive and the judiciary are all equal under the Constitution. The same principle holds good for all those holding constitutional posts, including the Chief Justice of India. A citizen does not have the right to question a judge about why he has given a particular ruling or judgement. But he, certainly, has the right to question the judge on his decisions on the administrative side. Clearly, the CJI or other judges of the apex court cannot hold the view that information regarding, say, declaration of assets by the judges, is “privileged information” and, hence, cannot be shared with the general public.

In response to a petition, the CIC has held that a citizen cannot be denied or deprived of information merely on the ground that it is available only with the CJI’s office and not with the court officials. The Supreme Court and the CJI are not two “distinct public authorities” but are “one” and the same information available with the CJI must be deemed to be available with the Supreme Court also, it ruled. Few can dispute the soundness of the ruling. The CIC has fixed a 10-day deadline for the court to provide information to the respondent whether the judges declare their assets regularly or not. If a citizen is entitled to know what the President of India owns in her personal capacity, why should he be kept uninformed about the assets of a judge?

The Supreme Court will do well to open itself to public scrutiny and introduce greater transparency in its functioning. In fact, this is the essence of the people’s right to know which is a constitutional guarantee. There is no harm if judges declare their assets every year and the same information is made available to the people. Public scrutiny of the judges’ conduct will promote accountability and the judges will also command greater respect. In view of the increasing cases of misconduct in the higher judiciary, the apex court should willingly come forward to provide information under the RTI Act.

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On wrong path
Strikers do not deserve any mercy

AS if the ongoing truckers’ strike was not enough to cause avoidable pain to citizens, the oil sector officers, too, have stopped work to demand higher salaries. With the economy already facing a slowdown and employees in many sectors losing jobs, it is highly irresponsible on the part of those fortunate enough to be engaged in work to indulge in disruptive activities. The Oil Sector Officers Association has not only spurned the government offer for negotiations but also chosen to disregard the Delhi High Court directive against a strike until the next hearing of its case. The officers must be aware of the likely consequences of their unjustifiable action.

Under these circumstances, if the government invokes the Essential Supplies Maintenance Act or the National Security Act in states without ESMA to proceed against the oil executives, they will have only themselves to blame. The government need not show any leniency in dealing with the strikers. There may be little public sympathy for their cause. The immediate impact of the strikes by truckers and oil officers will be on the availability and prices of commodities of daily use, particularly petroleum products.

So far the truckers’ strike, which entered its third day on Wednesday, has had a limited impact on the supply of essential items. In some of the states the truck services are quite normal. The striking truckers are making some very irrational demands like an exemption from the toll tax and the service tax. If vehicle owners refuse to pay the toll tax, how will the condition of highways improve? The construction of new highways and a proper upkeep of the existing ones require money. Good roads reduce oil consumption, vehicle maintenance costs and travel time. The demand for diesel price reduction is genuine since global oil prices have slumped sharply and the government may respond to it favourably soon. Problems can be solved through dialogue and an extreme action like a strike only hardens attitudes.

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Lawless Noida
Proving to be an unlivable town

THE industrial township of Noida was supposed to develop into the pride of Uttar Pradesh, fully utilising its proximity to the national Capital. The infrastructure was of course there but the horrible law and order situation has turned it into a nightmare, instead. There is hardly a day when one violent incident or the other does not take place. Monday was a particularly horrifying day when an MBA student from Delhi was gangraped by 10 young men from a nearby village. That they could waylay the car-borne girl and her friend right at 5 pm shows how much the criminals are afraid of the police. This incident besmirches Noida’s record as much as the earlier chilling incidents like the Arushi-Hemraj murder and the Nithari case. Then there was also the Graziano murder case in which the CEO of the Italian company, Graziano, in Greater Noida was lynched by the workers of the factory.

Such exceptionally horrifying incidents come into the public eye all over the world. There are lesser incidents which may not make the national headlines, but still scare local residents no end. The graph of heinous crimes is consistently on the rise, be it murders, road hold-ups, thefts, dowry or rape. Lootings, dacoities and burglaries are a daily occurance in this part of Uttar Pradesh. The Arushi murder case was a perfect example of how inept the police can be.

Since 2006 when the Nithari case broke, three SSPs, five SPs and seven SHOs have been unceremoniously transferred but there has been no perceptible improvement in the situation. Petty crimes were pretty common in the Ghaziabad-Dadri-Bulandshahr belt earlier also. The rich people who moved to Noida have proved to be sitting ducks for them. Yet, the police has never really taken up the challenge. There are allegations that some notorious criminals enjoy political backing. Whatever be the reasons, Noida has come to be seen as a lawless town. Correctives have to be applied immediately. Does Chief Minister Mayawati listen?

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Thought for the Day

In my mind, there is nothing so illiberal and so ill-bred, as audible laughter.

— Lord Chesterfield

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Attack on Mumbai
Neither forgivable nor forgettable
by G. Parthasarathy

THE forthcoming visit of Home Minister P. Chidambaram to Washington, with evidence of Pakistani involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai carnage marks the end of the first phase of India's efforts to seek international understanding and support to compel Pakistan to irrevocably dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism, which it has built to "bleed" India. New Delhi's position initially seemed to endorse President Zardari's assertion that the terrorist attack was carried out by "non-state actors".

There appeared to be a disinclination in New Delhi to make it clear that given the sophisticated nature of the operation, it could not have been undertaken without training, arms, ammunition, grenades, navigational equipment and logistical facilities being provided by the Pakistan Army and Navy. Such collaboration between the Pakistan Army and Navy would have required clearance at the highest levels of the Pakistan armed forces.

Shortly after the terrorist attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul and virtually on the day that Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani arrived on an official visit in Washington, the CIA leaked the details of the ISI’s involvement in the incident to The New York Times. The details indicated that such an attack could have been mounted not only with clearance of the ISI Director-General, Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, but also and evidently of Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani. It is, therefore, not clear why India chose to be so circumspect and did not draw attention to the Pakistan Army’s involvement in the Mumbai carnage.

Seeing New Delhi's ambivalence, the Americans and others have tacitly sought to absolve the Pakistani armed forces of any involvement. If such involvement was established in the killing of American nationals, they would have been forced to act against the ISI, causing huge embarrassment to a relationship with a "major non-NATO ally", whose assistance they require in their "war on terror". The US had substantial information of the ISI’s involvement in the Mumbai bomb blasts in 1993, but the Clinton Administration chose not to act on it. Similarly, there was no dearth of evidence of the involvement of the Pakistan armed forces in the proliferation of nuclear knowhow to Iran, Libya and North Korea. But the Bush administration accepted the Musharraf government's assertion that the entire proliferation was the work of Dr A.Q. Khan and the so-called "A.Q. Khan network".

The Pakistan Army appears determined to persist with its policy of "strategic denial and defiance" in dealing with its culpability in the Mumbai carnage. But it does appear to have a "fallback position". In case international pressure becomes stronger, the army seems to be prepared to allow the Lashkar-e-Taiyaba (LeT) communications chief Zarar Shah to take the rap. It would, however, not allow the LeT chief, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, to face trial despite the fact that by his many utterances of his involvement in terrorist attacks in India, including the January 2001 attack on the Red Fort, Saeed is a self-confessed terrorist.

Zarar Shah is known to play an important role in coordination and liaison between the ISI and the LeT. A quiet "deal" would be struck with Zarar Shah, involving a "confession" of his sins, a la A.Q. Khan, in return for a farcical and prolonged "trial" and eventual acquittal, once memory of the Mumbai carnage fades from international attention.

New Delhi should not overlook these realities. While there are said to be transcripts of conversations between serving and former ISI officers on the Mumbai carnage, India will now have to insist that as with the attack on our embassy in Kabul, the Mumbai outrage could not have been undertaken without the approval of General Kiyani. The US should be told that there should be no cover up, as in the past, on the Pakistan Army and ISI culpability. Pakistan will insist on legal proceedings, if any, being in Pakistani courts.

India, however, cannot ignore how Omar Sheikh, who was released during the Kandahar hijacking, was convicted of killing American journalist Daniel Pearl by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan and sentenced to death, but still remains a free man, in an evident conspiracy of silence between the US and Pakistan. India should insist that if Pakistan refuses to hand over to India those guilty, including past and present military officials, these individuals should be extradited to the US and tried according to US judicial processes, much in the way as Pakistani terrorist Aimal Kansai was extradited, tried and executed in the US.

At the same time, there is a wide range of actions, diplomatic, overt and covert, that India will have to take if it wants to be taken seriously and not regarded as a supplicant. Firstly, our High Commissioner to Pakistan should be recalled and the staff in the High Commissions reduced to a minimum level. The argument that the High Commissioner has useful contacts has little merit as contacts can be maintained, when needed, through other channels.

Secondly, we should quickly work out measures to ensure that the waters of the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej meant exclusively to be used in India do not flow into Pakistan. Cultural and sports contacts need to be restricted only to events to which we are internationally committed. Strategically, the Americans and others should be made aware that we may be compelled to take measures that would result in Pakistan moving its forces away from its borders with Afghanistan unless our concerns are seriously addressed.

Finally, we have to send a clear message that we are not insensitive to Afghan and Pashtun aspirations on the Durand Line, which in any case exists only notionally. All this has to be supplemented by wide-ranging and sustained covert action. Over the last decade successive governments have been guilty of undermining covert capabilities in the quest for a mythical "shared destiny" with Pakistan.

By stating that any future terrorist attack would have unimaginable consequences, New Delhi already appears to be suggesting that we would be prepared to "forget and forgive" in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage. The message instead should be that we will neither forget nor forgive. There also appears to be some illusions about China's role. We should never forget that if China had not blocked moves in the UN Security Council in 2006 and 2007 to declare the Jamat-ud-Dawa as an international terrorist organisation, which would have subjected it to international sanctions, the Mumbai carnage may not have occurred. China was thus an accessory to the Mumbai carnage.

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To err is woman
by Chetana Vaishnavi

ONE of the unfortunate realities of life is that we are human and prone to making mistakes. And when it comes to women we make a lot of mistakes. To put it briefly — in a male dominated world — to err is woman.

I shudder in my shoes every time a natural calamity hits our earth. I am sure to be held directly or indirectly responsible for it. Why should every fault be pinned to a woman and every credit assigned to a man? John Gray believes that men are from Mars. He says, “You cannot advice a man, because to offer a man unsolicited advice is to presume that he doesn’t know what to do or that he can’t do it on his own.” But because a woman is from Venus, and so to say an emotional fool, men can put all the blame on her for every wrong thing that is happening on earth. Sample some routine grind a woman undergoes.

When you are on the road driving cautiously to avoid a hit and run by your male counterparts, you will hear a man swearing at you almost everyday as though driving is only a man’s forte, however rash he may be. The bias is ingrained in men. In the U.S. a small girl was mowing her lawn one afternoon. An elderly man was walking by and happened to come in her way while she was busy with the work. Loudly, he swore, “Oh you women drivers!”

You must have read innumerable times in the newspapers how young mothers are tortured to death for bearing female children. It is high time social workers spread the awareness that the gender of the child depends on men and not women because of the XY chromosomes in the former.

Several years ago I was amused to read a question in a newspaper by a reader who asked why women think they are equal to men. Shocked by the question, I took respite in the wise answer, “Women are not equal to men; they are superior to men!”

It is true that the hand that rocks the cradle also rules the world. But only till such time the baby grows into an adult. And if the adult happens to be William Shakespeare he would just utter, “Frailty thy name is woman!”

How much a woman errs you must see through a man’s eyes. Some years ago a woman got a job in a newspaper office. Elated, she wrote the word “PRESS” across her T-shirt. I do not have to tell you how she spent the whole day in the office and what her male colleagues thought about the logo.

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An ageing society
Longer life expectancy need not be a burden
by Mary Dejevsky

IN the space of a week, the writer and long-time editor, Diana Athill, has notched up a brace of distinctions. She received an OBE in the New Year Honours List for services to literature, and last night she won the Biography category of the Costa Book Awards with her memoir, Somewhere Near the End, which makes her a contender for the Book of the Year prize when the results are announced later this month.

Still more remarkable is that Ms Athill recently turned 91. Energetic, appreciative, and – it goes without saying – in possession of all her faculties, she is a one-woman advertisement for Britain’s ageing society.

A brave and highly regarded editor, she started late as a writer, publishing her first book at the age of 43. She has used her long life to maximum, and enviable, advantage.

In so doing, Ms Athill offers a timely antidote to the doom-mongering consensus that regards an ageing society only as a problem, and an expensive one at that. In the UK, there are now more over-60s in the population than there are under-18s.

But I have never quite bought into the idea that longer life expectancy need be the burden that will bankrupt the state. (You could even argue the opposite, given the mayhem created by a younger generation of risk-taking bankers left to its own devices.)

To be sure, developments in medicine have enabled people to live longer, and the technology and drugs cost money.

The incidence of dementia, we are told, is set to increase; already far from adequate social services will be shamefully ill-equipped to cope. But it also remains true that most people cost the Health Service most in the very last year of their life – at whatever age that last year happens to be.

And the reasons why people live longer – including improved nutrition, better sanitation and the decline of heavy manual work – are invariably positive. To be 60 or 70 today is tantamount to being 50 or 60 a generation ago, in terms of health, capability and attitude.

There is surely no reason – except atrophied social thinking – why those now too often dismissed as “elderly” should not contribute far more to society than they do. Many would be only too delighted not to be excluded, as they see it, from the mainstream.

If raising the pensionable age again is too sensitive a nettle for any government to grasp at a time when joblessness is rising, why are there no more imaginative options for the “young” old to supplement their travel – and hobby – time with temporary or short-term work?

At the least imaginative end of the spectrum, why is there no encouragement for willing individuals to organise and staff civilised accommodation and care for the new generation of super-old?

Care assistants, so called, are currently at the very bottom of the salary pile; young, temporary and often from abroad. Anyone familiar with the world of old-age homes – which are closing by the week – knows that nothing short of a revolution is needed in this benighted sector.

Britain’s changing age structure should bring positive change, if not an actual revolution, within the bounds of possibility. Technology helps. Internet shopping, home deliveries, electric trikes and subsidised taxi arrangements have already made life easier for those who find it difficult to get out. Some construction companies are building in aids to mobility and use that benefit people of all ages.

Experiments in France and elsewhere team care homes with schools and nurseries on the same site; work, services and facilities can be pooled. In countries such as Japan, where the ageing society is more acute and further down the line than in Britain, scientific researchers, designers and advertisers are applying vast amounts of ingenuity to chasing the “grey” yen . I see no reason to despair quite yet.

But there is another, quite different, reason, why the ageing society may not prove to be the “ticking social time bomb” that pessimists fear. Even 60 years ago, the very idea that women would ever have routine control of their fertility would have been dismissed as impossible outside the world of medical researchers. It is something that is now taken for granted in most countries of the developed world.

In large part, the pill – and to a lesser extent legalised abortion – may be responsible for the changed demographics of Europe today. Quite simply, many children were not born who might have been.

But the social effects of the pill – a cheap, easy and reliable form of contraception – have reached far beyond the prevention of pregnancy. It is widely assumed that pregnancy is a matter of choice – the woman’s choice. Hence the additional opprobrium attached to “feckless” mothers.

Bearing a child is now seen less as something that just happens – a byproduct, welcome or not, of a relationship – but as a deliberate choice. A decision not to have children can still carry a social stigma of sorts: you are deemed to be selfish, for instance, by not doing your bit for the pensioners of the future. But the choice exists, where once it did not, and it has become the social norm within half a century.

Which is why I cannot help wondering whether my contemporaries and I – the second pill generation – might be the last generation unable to control how and when we end our lives.

The demand for such power is growing. More people are writing “living wills” – to decline aggressive treatment – and more would surely seek assisted suicide if it did not entail a trip to Switzerland. Baroness Warnock has mooted euthanasia for dementia-sufferers.

The instinct to survive remains strong. But for some – not only those who have seen in close relatives what it means to be old and incapacitated, or who know of some adverse genetic predisposition – the choice could prove attractive.

What if you could live your life to its physical and financial full, and then simply switch yourself off?

The social consequences of being able to choose when to die – legally and reliably – could be far greater than those associated with choosing whether to beget another life.

And the very idea would be fought by the same churches that denounce abortion. But in a mostly secular society, where – even as life expectancy rises – not all can live lives as long or as full as Diana Athill’s, the choice of when to call it a day must be the next medical and demographic frontier.

— By arrangement with The Independent

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Sarkozy bans ads for state TV
by John Lichfield

Nicolas SarkozyONE of Nicolas Sarkozy’s most visible, and most controversial, attempts to transform the French way of life took effect on Tuesday night. Advertising vanished from prime-time on all state-owned television channels as part of an attempt by the President to create, in his own words, a public television service to “rival the quality of the BBC”.

The abolition of prime-time commercials – part of a much bigger revolution in the French broadcast landscape – has provoked strikes by television journalists and a torrent of insults and allegations which transcend the usual political boundaries of right and left.

M. Sarkozy’s critics allege that his true motive is to transfer part of the shrinking pot of advertising revenue to the privately-owned television channels. They also claim another part of his reform – the direct nomination of the boss of state-owned France Télévisions by the Elysée Palace – is a reversion to the bad, and dreary, old days of politically controlled French television.

Journalists at France 3 went on strike on Tuesday and their colleagues at France 2 stopped work on Wednesday in protest against what they see as an attempt to undermine the quality and independence of news gathering on the state-owned channels.

M. Sarkozy’s attempt to shake-up French broadcasting – first announced a year ago – has been energetically resisted by centre-left and centre parties. A long parliamentary filibuster by the Socialist Party prevented the law from being passed in time for today’s deadline.

The head of France Télévisions, Patrick de Carolis, had originally denounced the changes as “stupid and unjust” but agreed last month to give up prime-time advertising voluntarily until the legislation was complete.

Like many Sarkozy policies, the broadcasting reform defies the normal categories and prejudices of French politics. Advertising of all kinds is regarded as wicked or spiritually demeaning by many people on the bourgeois-bohemian left. The idea of a ban on advertising on public channels was originally floated by left-wing politicians.

It is also widely accepted that French television – both state-owned and private – is a creative desert compared to the best efforts of Britain, the US and other countries. An inexplicable gulf in quality lies between French cinema and French television.

M. Sarkozy’s abrupt conversion to the idea of a French BBC has caused deep suspicion, however. The President argues that the two terrestrial, state-owned channels, France 2 and France 3, spend too much money and energy chasing ratings and copying the lowest-common-denominator quiz shows and police serials on the main, private channel, TF1.

By lifting them out of the ratings and advertising game, they will, he argues, be freed to produce more cultural programmes, documentaries and higher-brow television drama (as if to please the President, the main prime-time offering on France 2 tonight will be a documentary about the Dogon people of Mali).

At present, the state-owned channels – including three new cable channels – are funded partly by advertising and partly by a redevance or television licence. This costs €116 (£111), rising to €118 or €119 this year, compared to £139.50 for a colour television licence in Britain.

From Tuesday – or when the legislation is complete – the €450m a year lost by the state channels in prime-time advertising will be refunded in its entirety by a tax on the ad revenue of private channels and a small levy on mobile phone calls. From the end of 2011, the state channels will also have to give up advertising in the morning, afternoon and early evenings.

M. Sarkozy’s critics ask why this reform was so urgent when so many other of his promised social and economic changes have yet to be delivered. They claim that – despite the new tax on ad revenue – the real beneficiaries will be the large, privately-owned channels which are struggling to keep up ratings and revenues in the face of competition from cable channels and the internet. TF1 is controlled by Martin Bouygues, the billionaire businessman who is the godfather of M. Sarkozy’s youngest son, Louis.

Another part of the reform, the critics point out, will allow the big private channels to introduce more advertising breaks and up to nine minutes of advertising an hour instead of the present six.

The shake-up in French broadcasting has, however, won the support of some film-makers and television programme makers who would not necessarily be fans of the President.

Pascal Thomas, a film director, said that freeing state television from the tyranny of advertising could free French audio-visual talent from the present “stifling” mixture of bureaucracy and commercialism.

“It is incredible that, for so many years, television has created so little,” he said. “This reform could produce a real modernisation of state broadcasting which could unleash a spiritual revolution.”

— By arrangement with The Independent

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Time to reposition media
by N. Bhaskara Rao

THE global recession of 2008 sweeping across sectors compels the mass media to tighten its belt. 2009 is going to be a year of consolidation and convergence rather than acquisitions and expansion as expected.

Nevertheless, thanks to continued political uncertainty and buoyancy in regional language media, particularly rural India, the over-all growth momentum of the media sector will keep up.

However, it will see more optimising moves and squeezing of flap. Newer and least cost alternatives will be explored more rather than the multiplication of the same type channels and newspapers.

More important, 2009 will witness a relook and repositioning of channels, newspapers and their priorities.

Differentiation is going to be the key driver. But that is not possible without getting out of the shackles of TRP and the like. Only then the best of Indian TV and media will unfold.

The craze to launch channels, particularly news channels, regionally will make sense only when they carve out an altogether new/TRP — free model. There is so much scope to expand horizontally.

The more the news channels, the better it is going to be for newspapers both in terms of their revival and credibility. Convergence in the content priorities
of the two media is not in the interest of either. More focussed content strategies and need-based priorities will better the news media. In 2009 they should set their priorities right and take IT advantage far more.

There will be a squeeze in advertising flows in 2009. This will affect the smaller size media more. The bigger ones will not be much affected. The share of local advertising outlays needs a shot in 2009.

Competition is not bringing the much-needed paradigm shift in the media content priorities and strategies. Instead it is furthering “more of the same”.

The Indian media scene needs a break from such a syndrome. The news media need to defuse the credibility crisis with visible evidence of self-regulation initiatives.

With political parties and factions taking to the news media more and more, 2009 will see more media wars as was witnessed in Andhra Pradesh in 2008.

Media education programmes need an urgent review. 2008 had seen the mushrooming of schools.

We need more thinkers in media operations, not merely more operators, punchers, anchors and the like. A talent crunch is too obvious.

We need a “think big and beyond” oriented convergence model of media education that is imbedded and driven by research. Media research in 2009 should go beyond TRP types. TRP and IRS/NRS have outlived and, in fact, constrained the emergence of a more responsible and inclusive media.

In 2009 media establishments need to be more transparent of their operations and address the “conflict of interest” issue. 2009 should be a year of sleek and smart media rather than of the fat and bigger. And be sensitive to public anguish gaining ground in 2008. The media need to up their antennas to be part of the “rethink” that India will go through in 2009.

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