Stealth Reform

September 20, 2008

The fact that I’ve posted in one day about two separate reforms that aren’t getting noticed suddenly reminds me of Ravikiran’s thesis that the only time the UPA can carry out reform is when the Left is distracted with other things (follow-up 1) like privatising airports when everyone is concentrating on the Tsunami.

The thing is that the Left has now been replaced by the SP, so I’m not sure how far this idea is still valid. But maybe the UPA is now so used to doing stuff by stealth that by sheer force of habit they announced the (limited) liberalisation of foreign media when everyone was distracted by the Delhi blasts, the Delhi encounter, and the I-banking crisis. Again, it’s slightly depressing that carnage and loss of life and livelihood is required before something happens.

Another Unbottled Genie

September 20, 2008

Along with mobile banking, another sector got a little freer this week. Foreign news magazines can now publish Indian editions:

In a significant further opening up of the print media, the Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a revised policy that would allow Indian editions of foreign magazines in the news and current affairs category.

The review of print media policy permits Indian publishers entering into such agreements to include local content and carry domestic advertisements, both of which were forbidden under previous guidelines.

(Financial Express)

Because I am an impractical libertarian I will now find fault even with this welcome opening up. As the Financial Express also points out, FDI is restricted to 26%, which means that the true benefits of foreign money coming in and setting up professional news organisations will be limited. (At this point, my skeptical alter-ego intervenes and points out that what with the currrent financial crisis, and foreign media organisations not exactly sitting on mountains of cash, there wasn’t going to be a huge amount of money coming in anyway.)

Also, the requirement of five years of prior circulation of at least ten thousand copies means that if News Corp decides to launch a new magazine worldwide, they can’t do a simultaneous launch in India. Oy vey.

It’s a start, though.

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