In continuation with my earlier mail about you speech in
Chennai, you spoke about the corporatisation of media and
reduction of free press now. But the following points need to
be discussed :
1. In the heydays of socialism in India, esp under Indira
Gandhi, when corporate taxes were raised to confiscatory
rates of 98 % (for highest marginal rate), all media house
and other corporates were under the mercy of govt ministers
and bureaucrats. As it was impossible to operate honestly,
tax evasions was rampant and hence the threat of income
tax raids were always hanging over the heads of media
houses. There was acute shortage of news print and foreign
exchange (due to closed economic polices and license raaj).
Hence the print media was totally under the thumb of the
govt, unlike today. Moreover as there was not much private
sector (like today), in those days the major part of advertisement
revenue was from ad from govt and govt run companies. Hence
there was less freedom for media then when compared to now.
No wonder the quip about media during the emergence of
1975-77 :'When they were asked to bend, they crawled' !!
2. There was total govt monopoly in electronic media then.
only doordarshan and AIR. No private channels were permitted
until 'neo liberalsim' in 90s. and no private telecom and airlines
too. Hence communication was restricted while the govt run
TV was totally a propaganda instrument of the govt. Today,
with hundreds of channels, we get all kinds of news and views.
Certainly current situation is much much better than the 70s.
3. Poverty levels were terrible until the 90s due to stagnant
economy. In spite of doubling of population levels to 1.25 billion
today, poverty ration is reducing fast due to the much maligned
'growth'. Pls refer to the front page report from The Hindu :
Poverty levels down by 15% in eight years
And this rapid change is due to implementation of 'neo-liberal'
polices. Hence sweeping generalisations about neo-liberalism is
wrong, esp in Indian context.
And finally a word about your tirade against Montek Singh
Ahluwaliah. He and Manmohan Singh saved India during the
1991 balance of payments crisis. But for their vision and hard
work in those critical years, India would have become bankrupt
(like Zimbawae recently) with soaring hyper inflation and hunger.
History will record their contribution more accurately. You may
disagree with them, but to label them as 'conservatives' is
Sir, you mentioned about the misuse of the term 'reforms'
whenever economic issues are mentioned. But more misused
are the terms 'progressive' and 'conservative' ; these are mere
labels which assume a lot. And the term 'conservative' is
unfairly stuck on many idealists right simply because the are
pro-market. Conservative means to conserve the status quo
and against any change, esp of standard of living of the poor.
Nothing can be farther from truth. The present neo liberal
polcies of the 'conservatives' are applied in most parts of the
world, not because of any 'imperialistic' conspiracy, but simply
because they are now deemed as rational and better than old
polices of statism. And these conservatives are more
'progressive' in their outlook than the real 'progressives'.