Tuesday, April 3, 2012


                    Lobbying and ‘Time’line of Media

       Two personalities. Ghulam Nabi Fai and Nira Radia. The last year jolts the common man of not only India but also other countries as the first exposed for his lobbying for J&K in USA and second exposed for his influence on top journalists of Indian media, corporates and Top politicians for vested interest of her PR Company and corporate group, she was associated with. Matter goes with wind but now wind is back with more speed and sound as Indian Army chief said that he was offered Rs. 14 Crore by an equipment lobbyist for a deal to have a horse trading of 600 sub-standard vehicles cleared for purchase. Surprisingly, the very last day of this expose, on behalf of Newspapers, Arvind Kejriwal, member of Core committee of Team Anna blams former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel for having a huge bribe against a deal with an American Company. These are few burning examples of lobbyist involved in big deal.
       India has a long list of scams now. According to data, 46 scams have been listed officially during the 2nd term of UPA including CWG, Coal mining scam, KG Basin Oil Scam, Indian Premier League scam etc. In this list minor scams have not been included. Undoubtedly saying, some scams have been exposed by Corporate Group or it won’t be exaggerated if said that it’s a war between companies and their loyyist. If one company gets benefit, his competitor exposes the black episode, interestingly. It is well know to all that horse trading on high scale have much stuff of other players i.e brokers, loyyists, immediater, personal contacts etc. After sum up of Nira Radia tape the power of lobbyist came on surface but these menace of unethical practice couldn’t publish as news items because of expected exposure of Corporate Media but after the last episode of Indian Army Chief now it’s a superlative question before a democratic nation that how much powerful Lobbyist are today! What’s their laxmanrekha and is it intact now! If no, then what’s the side effects and are we ready for that?  
       Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Professional lobbyists are people whose business is trying to influence legislation on behalf of a group or indivisuals who hires them. The ethics and morality of lobbying are dual-edged. For example, a medical association, or a trade association of health companies, may lobby a legislature in order to counteract the influence of tobacco companies, in which case the lobbying would be viewed by most people as justified(duly defending against others corruption). The difficulty in drawing objective lines between which lobbyist are “good lobbyist” and which ones are “bad ones” is compounded by the cleverness with which lobbyists or their clients can speciously argue that their own lobbying is of the “good” kind. At heart, the effort to influence legislation is a power struggle. As in other forms of power struggle, such as war or law enforcement, motives range from predation to self defence to fighting for justice, and the dividing line between predation and justice is subject to rationalization. 
     According to wikileaks, many important decisions of external affairs and of domestic issues sought a direct interfere and role of lobbyist. From Bofors scam to latest Coal scams, no need to say that lobbyist played a vital role. Lobbyist played role in India’s relation with Iran, Nepal, Israel and all other nations which are big players in world economic or political arena. Now the question comes that what is the power of a lobbyist and what is the structure of lobbying? And the another part of the same question is is lobbying limited to horse trading or has any political influence? The episode of Nira Radia pressurize us to raise this question, after all.
Basically, lobbying is a product of Corporate media now because the main purpose of lobbying, which is to influence anyone including MPs, MLAs, Ministers and even Cabinet, can’t be achieved without active support of media directly or indirectly. Media manufacture consent and people can’t hide themselves from media. Lobbying work comfortably in Propaganda Model, that is a conceptual  model in political economy advanced by Edward S Herman and Noam Chomsky that states how propaganda, including systemic biases, function in mass media. The model seeks to explain how populations are manipulated and how consent for economic, social, and political policies are “manufactured” in the public mind due to this propaganda.
     In USA, 6 media giants now control a ataggering 90% of what American read, watch, or listen. The first giant is General Electric, who owned COMCAST, NBC(National Broadcasting Company), UNIVERSAL PICTURES and FOCUS PICTURES, the second is NEWS CORP, that owned FOX, Wall Street Journal and New York Post, the third is DISNEY that owned ABC, ESPN, PIXAR, MIRAMEX, MARVEL STUDIOS, the fourth is VIACOM that owned MTV, NICK JR, BET(Black Entertainment Television), CMT(Country music television), Paramount Pictures, the fifth is TIME WARNER that owned CNN(Cable News Network), HBO(Home Box Office), TIME, WARNER BROS and the last but not least CBS group that owned SHOWTIME, SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL, NFL.COM, JEOPARDY, 60 MINUTES. Hard to believe but its fact that 232 Media Executives control the information diet of 277 Million Americans. It means if any corporate company want to promote its product even in the cost of public interest, what the thing he has to do is simply hypnotize to people with the help of these media groups. Surprisingly, most of Media houses have mining plants, textile industries, printing, fast moving consumer goods, oil, solvents and internet services, too. For example, GE(General Electric) is the biggest Media company in the world but media is not the ultimate source of income of this company, actually, this group has other initiatives in technology, infrastructure, Energy sector etc except media. Therefore, its very easy for GE to lobby for the policy which can award profit to its other product with the help of its media channel. Simply, it’s a violation for of audience’s right to know, that is superior duty of media. The superlative condition of this menace is seen in world media often and no need to say this is the biggest challenge of democracy, whether it would be America or India.
      In India, the nexus between Corporate owned media houses and lobbyist badly exposed in Nira Radia tape controversy. Have a look of conversation between Media house and Lobbyist: “Barkha Dutt, group editor of NDTV: The stalemate(between Congress and DMK) continues, Nira Radia: My honest advice is that tell them(Congress) that they need to tell him(Karunanidhi), Barkha Dutt:OK, let me talk to them” similarly, the same lobbyist had close relation with Anant Kumar, the then minister of aviation, according to R K Anand. Anand says Nira Radia always thought big. She was not satisfied with piddling assignments. Her ultimate ambition was to start her own airline. To achieve this target she needed the help of the new aviation minister, Ananth Kumar, who was a member of Parliament from Karnataka. She also had an added advantage. She knew more about the aviation industry than half of Ananth Kumar’s own top bureaucrats. Ananth Kumar, himself a neophyte, a roorkie minister in the NDA government, found in Nira a good teacher about in the NDA government, found in Nira a good teacher about the intricacies, pitfalls and vicissitudes of the powerful aviation sector, “Needless to say, he was also smitten by the femme fatale who was now so sure of her music with men”. 
     The latest example of media lobbying is Narendra Modi episode of Time Magazine. Time is the world’s largest circulation weekly news magazine with a readership of 25 million, of which 20 million are in the US. Time has a very special reputation in Indian higher class and higher middle class. It can be understood by the fact that the personality selected for cover page of magazine makes a big personality in Indian media, too. The infrastructure of Indian media is not too much different from western media. Latest horse trading between Mukesh Ambani led Corporate company and Network 18 group proves it. The latest edition of Time magazine published Narendra Modi on cover. The tag line is “Modi means Business”. It is well known to all that the assembly election of Gujrat is at hand and the growth of Gujrat is totally an industry based growth. The infrastructural question is still unanswered. India Human Development Report 2011 points out that Gujrat fares the worst in terms of overall hunger and malnutrition in the country. The performance of Gujarat on the HDI is lower as compared to many smaller states like Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and North-East(excluding Assam) still Gujrat is the best and Modi is on the cover page of Time! Vibrent Gujarat has been successfully marketed as a major global business event- so much so that Modi’s American lobbying and public relation firm, APCO Worldwide, recently won two international awards for its work promoting the project. The five summits since 2003 have generated investment pledges worth $920  billion for Gujrat, but their value for Modi can’t be measured by mere numbers. In fact, the figures themselves may be misleading: an analysis of data from the state industry department suggests that only 25 percent of the promised investments have actually been made. While one-quarter of a trillion dollars is hardly small change, the considerable disparity between the image and the reality actually highlights the tactical genius behind the investment summits, which are the crowding achievement is one of the most extraordinary acts of reinvention in Indian politics.
     The above examples prove the that definition of not only journalism but also an state are changed now. Undoubtedly saying, after globalization and sustaining in free market economy “Govt of India”has changed into “Govt of India Pvt Ltd” and the designation of PM must be “CEO” because “Modi means business” and Media means Business, too!

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