Citizens' Issues
How the ‘Corridors of Power’ work in Delhi-Part 3

The liaison agent's role withdrew into the background. At the same time, the new media got busy with the business at hand - of mind-bending (PR), of influencing policy (policy groups), of influencing decisions (lobbying) and finally, of pre-empting future movements at and before the decision making stage in governance (espionage) 


Liaison work in Delhi of the "get foreign exchange released for business travel" while keeping in sync with the licence raj. The way it was, well distributed to just a few protected families in India were how things worked until around the late 1980s. This was extended to a sort of low-level public relations (PR) of the sort, where multiple global brands arriving in India needed not just visibility but also the ability to reach deep into the markets and was added on to the repertoire by the mid -1990s.
Obviously, this was not enough. There was the whole "Bombay Club" issue of "protecting" the Indian manufacturers for one, and the worry that India was really moving ahead of the rest of the world in brain capabilities for another. The lure of a "market" as different from a "country" pretty much sealed the fate of how things were going to move ahead for the global corporates moving in relentlessly, with the dye cast. Now all it needed was the tools.
It was at around this time in my life, after selling off my small shipping cargo clearance business, when I saw the writing on the wall. The big guys were going to swallow the small local punters up, that I got interested in "the media", and how it happened was in retrospect quite comical. I used to take part in amateur car rallies in those days, mainly a whole lot of us driving up and down back roads without much worry about rules and regulations, and in due course, I became part of the organisers, putting in solid efforts for route maps and safety as well as operational aspects. All this hard work, purely voluntary, was fine - but then, at the end, along would come some wet-behind-the-ears kind of "media-person" and totally destroy everything in her or his reportage-often because the food or the booze or the gift or the hospitality was not perfect.
The media had arrived in India, and it was clear as day to anybody who could keep their eyes open, that this was where the power rests. In a country starved of information for decades, what anybody said in front of a camera, was considered to be the absolute truth. You just had to say it with a straight face, preferably in perfect English, and get it repeated often enough.
Therefore, I joined the electronic media. Through a series of coincidences, I found myself as the motoring anchor, the first on TV in India actually, for Doordarshan, Star and NDTV - simultaneously.
To start with, there was no PR control, instructions were very clear - the viewer was the constituency, and the viewer wanted the truth. It took just about three years for this to change, which was about how long I lasted, as I simply could not go on TV and be a PR mouthpiece. Meanwhile, I also realised how the power factor of the new media, rapidly emerging into private news and entertainment channels on television were morphing together so quickly that often it was difficult to tell the difference. What anybody said on any screen was considered to be the truth by those choosing to watch that channel.
There was even a technology doing the rounds of the multiple new television channels emerging then, which actually quantified how credible a face and voice were or television. This incidentally was linked to early days of subliminal mind management using the then emerging internet also in addition to television. It did not take very long for the denizens of the corridors of power in Delhi (and elsewhere too) to realise this, and thus was truly matured the deep relationship between these two elements therein.
I grabbed this technology with both hands, left TV, and moved off into working on esoteric technologies of facial biometrics and subliminal mind management over the internet and elsewhere. With the world becoming an increasingly more dangerous place every day, these technologies, so closely related to electronic media, entered the realm of preventive defence for the larger Nations, of which an important subset was psychological warfare by espionage.
All well said and done until it was governments and militaries, which were playing these mind games. But the world was also increasingly populated by multi-national corporations (MNCs), which were way bigger than many countries put together. And they, too, needed espionage to stay alive as well as ahead.
Where were they to get their spies from?
The liaison agent's role, meanwhile, withdrew into the background of wheeling and dealing and evolved into serious business of the sort carried out in the old colonial clubs and private chambers of 5-star hotels. At the same time, the new media got busy with the business at hand - of mind-bending (PR), of influencing policy ("policy groups"), of influencing decisions (lobbying) and then finally, of pre-empting future movements at and before the decision making stage in governance (espionage). That is where the corporate spies emerged.
But they had to be technologically sound.
The new age corporate spies, often known as "commercial intelligence", were needed for this last activity. This was the most important, and it was seen that it was fulfilled by these practitioners of the new age media the most, because once aware of which way decision making was going, it was important to raise public opinion to sway the said decision making back in the directions of whoever was paying the said media persons.
And thus, was expanded the role of the paid main-stream media, as my friend Mediacrooks puts it, the Category 5 Morons. Nicely controlled by the tech-savvy commercial and corporate spies.
Espionage, which at one time was the sport of kings and the domain of countries, had now moved full-time into practice at corporates who were often larger than many Nations put together. And in this constantly boiling pot, jumped in Shantanu Saikia, who even in the early days of the internet, was way ahead of most other media-persons I knew in and around Delhi on his mastery of this brand new medium.
The number of "leading journalists" in Delhi who got their websites made and maintained by Shantanu Saikia would when revealed be of great interest as well as a pointer of the direction in which things were moving.
And the reality that the percentage of senior leading media-persons in and around Delhi who did not have the faintest clue of what was happening on the internet was something people like Shantanu picked up rapidly too.
Who, after all, knows most and best on what is going on in a client's life than his webmaster?
Read More
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.)



Ravindra Joshi

2 years ago

An excellent 'insight' piece that would help any Grade V moron, such as this retired fauji, make greater sense of what is going on in the nether world, only the tip of which (s)he gets to see.

It confirms what the said moron vaguely suspected but was too dumb to fully understand, even when the murky business has been going on for so long.

So, many thanks to the former 'army brat'and kind regards. To him I'd say: Keep spilling the beans, thick and fast!

Nifty, Sensex, Bank Nifty turn around on Economic Survey – Friday closing report

Nifty’s bullishness will stall if it closes below 8,760


We had mentioned in Thursday’s closing report that the move on NSE’s CNX Nifty maybe weak but it may regain strength on a close above 8,750. The 50-share benchmark opened Friday in the positive and made a gradual upmove throughout the session. At the end of the session, it hit its day’s high and closed near to it. The market was waiting for the Economic Survey for 2014-15 to be tabled in the Parliament. The Survey was welcomed by the market.
S&P BSE Sensex opened at 28,865 while Nifty opened at 8,730. After hitting a low at 28,837 and 8,717, the benchmarks moved higher to hit a high at 29,254 and 8,857, respectively. Sensex closed at 29,220 (up 473 points or 1.65%) while Nifty closed at 8,845 (up 161 points or 1.85%). Bank Nifty too followed similar pattern of trading. It opened at 18,660 and moved from the low of 18,655 to a high of 19,114 and closed at 19,075 (up 536 points or 2.89%). NSE recorded a higher volume of 126.82 crore shares. India VIX fell 4.91% to close at 19.5700.
The stock exchanges will be open on Saturday as the Finance Minister presents the first full-fledged budget of the Narendra Modi government.
While tabling the Economic Survey 2014-15, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stated that the government remains committed to fiscal consolidation and that the deficit target of 4.1% as envisaged in the Budget 2014-15 will be met. As per a medium-term fiscal strategy, there is a need to reduce fiscal deficit to the established target of 3% of GDP.
Annual GDP growth was seen at over 8% for 2015-16 and double-digit economic growth trajectory maybe possible in future, hoped the survey.
According to the Economic Survey the e-commerce sector in the country is likely to witness a growth of over 50% in the next five years.
Coming back to Indian stock markets, Unitech (17.07%) was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE, despite the fact that a police probe was ordered for Unitech allegedly cheating its buyers. However, the upcoming budget and anticipation of sops for the sector moved the stock higher. Hathway Cable & Datacom (8.49%) was the top loser in ‘A’ group on the BSE.
Tata Power (5.43%) was the top gainer in the Sensex 30 pack. Tata Power SED in consortium with L&T is one of the two selected development agencies for prestigious “MAKE” program Battlefield Management System for the Indian Army. L&T (4.67%) was among the top two gainers in the pack.
Gail (1.07%) was the top loser in the Sensex 30 stock. The board of directors have approved payment of interim dividend for the FY 2014-15 @ 30% (Rs3 per equity share) on the paid-up equity share capital.
On Thursday, US indices had a mixed closing. The consumer-price index fell 0.7% in January 2015 from December 2014, the Labor Department said yesterday. Prices slipped 0.1% from a year earlier, marking the first year-over-year decline since October 2009. Weekly jobless claims rose to 313,000 last week, above the 283,000 in the previous week. Durable goods orders figures for January increased 2.8%, after a 3.4% decline in the prior month.
Asian indices had mixed closing. Shanghai Composite (0.36%) was the top gainer while Straits Times (0.68%) was the top loser. Japanese industrial production rose 4% in January 2015 -the second straight on-month increase, following the 0.8% increase in December 2014, data showed today. European indices were showing mixed trading. US Futures were trading marginally in the red.
German lawmakers reportedly signalled that they will approve an extension of Greece's bailout with an overwhelming majority in parliament today, although many will do so reluctantly amid fears that Athens will not deliver on its reform promises.


Economic Survey sees eCommerce growing 50% in next five years

Inventory management, logistics planning and resource availability are important hurdles for online retail in India, the Survey says


As Internet penetration in India is on the rise, the eCommerce sector in the country is likely to witness a growth of over 50% over the next five years, says the Economic Survey.
The Survey, however, raised concerns over consumer safeguards and proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Act.
"India's eCommerce market is expected to grow by more than 50% in the next five years," the Economic Survey 2014-15, tabled in Parliament today by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, said.
As per industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), as of October 2014 India had 278 million internet users.
On the hurdles being faced by the sector, the Economic Survey said: "Inventory management, logistics planning and resource availability are important hurdles for online retail in India."
It further said: "Consumer safeguards being another concern for consumers of eCommerce, the government proposes including sufficient provisions in the ongoing amendment to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set up a Task Force last year to give suggestions to drive up revenues of India Post in with various services including eCommerce.
The Task Force, which submitted its report in January this year, recommended setting up a holding company under the Department of Posts to roll out of banking, insurance and e-commerce services by the world's largest postal network.
The task force added that rural India should be the main target area. India has a postal network of over 1,55,015 post offices of which (89.76%) are in the rural areas.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has on several occasions said India Post with its unparalleled rural, urban and semi-urban reach is best suited to offer delivery services to e-commerce players.
According to consultancy firm PwC, the eCommerce sector has grown by 34% (CAGR) since 2009 to touch $16.4 billion in 2014 and is further expected to touch $22 billion in 2015.


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