Vantage point

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

I may seem like an Englishman speaking about the weather all the time, but Lucknow has cooled down now. It rained yesterday and it felt grrrrrrrrrrreat. The mercury is dropping, and all's fine with the world. =-).

I have to make a presentation on "Intellectual Property Rights" and "TRIPS" next month. It has to be accompanied by a 5000 word report. What to do? It's post graduation na.

Something very funny I noticed in the past few days. About FDI in print media. For the uninitiated, there has been a big debate on about whether we should allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world of print media. There already is foreign control over TV, hence why not papers too, goes the logic.

Last week the government announced it raised the FDI limit to 26% and hence paved way for foreigners to own Indian newspapers. Right or wrong, we'll go into that later, but the funny thing is the attitude of the two big media groups in India- the Times group and the Express group. All Times editorials have been opposing the policy tooth and nail while all Express editorials have been welcoming it. Such diametrically opposite viewpoints are because of their basic composition. The Times group doesn't want competition, while the Express group, already in a tie up with the Wall Street Journal, sees it as an opportunity to get more foreign investment. Wonder where the days of objective reporting have gone?

My personal view is that let them in. We are not so frail a nation mentally that our collective psyches and consciences can be hijacked by foreign control papers. Even if they are the owners, remember who the readers are? If a paper starts saying "Let us give Kashmir to Pakistan", no one will listen. So let us be mature, and accept that globalisation is here to stay. After all, look at Star News. They aren't as right wing as AajTak but their reporting in quite India-supportive. Remember the part Star News played in the Kargil war of making the nation aware?

So let the firangs in. This is not the 1800s. Hail the arrival of a new age in reporting....