The New Yorker magazine has come out with a serious write-up on The Times of India’s survival strategy despite the fast eroding print medium in the West. Titled CITIZENS JAIN, elaborating the way TOI owners Samir and Vineet Jain brothers embarked upon innovative sales strategy undermining the ethics of journalism and the core values of this profession in India. Explaining “Why India’s newspaper industry is thriving” New Yorker’s writer Ken Auletta sums up some harsh comments from the opponents of Jains as well.
Essentially, Samir Jain and his business strategy was an outcome of his stint at Harvard and later his association with the NY Times. Applied to India in bare-all attitude, he has managed to arm-twist the half-baked journalists at his office into falling in line with his vision, nurtured mostly to sell ad space than what goes next to it. The insecure Indian journalist was more to blame for the downfall of journalistic standards than the owners.
Why did Samir Jain seek to undermine the journalist? He was beset with the prospect of losing ground with the omnipresent editors in the TOI building in Delhi, especially the likes of Girilal Jain. If he hadn’t acted, TOI would have been up for sale by now and the empire would not have emerged. But, what has emerged is a Frankenstein ready to swallow the entire media business in India and serve as a model in the future for a global market as well.
It is easy to blame it on capitalism where the companies mind profits first and consumers next. Here, we can say that Samir Jain was not directly involved in the system but is he turning blind to the fact that some of these companies, benefited by his new policy of neutrality, evaded bad publicity or public scrutiny of their misdeeds? So is the case with many public figures and private business magnates in the country where “adjustment” policy pervades our daily lives.
Even when Hitler’s anti-semitism began, some Jewish officials and insiders ignored it initially until the axe fell on them too. If we tolerate, we have to pay when it is our turn. So is the case with the powerful makers and unmakers in India and Jains are no exception. No money and no fame could get Ashok Jain out of the country for medical treatment for years in the 90s. Jains are blindly aping the negative side of capitalism in their tryst for media power but soon they will realise that inherent seeds of competition in the system will erode their suzerainty.
Print medium is unlikely to sustain into the next decade as they wish and advertising domain may turn worse than what it is now. But then capitalism has its own merits and it gives birth to its bitter opponents too when required. Until then, Jains will remain blind carriers of the phenomenon.