Media Will face a crisis of existence in a decade

The world is going digital, and this is not just about changing reading habits , it is also about the changing business landscape . We need to look at this ‘digitization’ more deeply.

On June 5th 2016, we saw the news that, now the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) — an independent body that provides audited newspaper and magazine circulation — is foraying into the measurement of digital properties, to track audience in the online space.This is going to create the biggest shakeup in the media industry. If people are spending more time online, the money will follow there and so, print media will either have to evolve new business models or face crisis of existence. Also, it means that the advertisement spends will now be in the hands of American giants like Google , Facebook etc. This is cause of serious concern .

Let us look at some more facts about how this evolution is taking place

One of the top global magazines;Newsweek, after 80 years, ended its print edition in Dec 2012. This signaled the direction to where the print media is headed about three years ago

Also, Let us take the case of book stores; Barnes & Nobles, Borders and Amazon. Barnes & Nobles was the largest book store in the world in 1997 (19 years ago) and at one time,Barnes and Noble and Borders controlled 25 % of the book market. But now, Barnes & Nobles (which started in 1886-130 years ago), is making losses and the valuations have dropped to USD 719 million. Also, Borders went out of business last year after being in business for 45 years. Amazon which started as a book store in 1994, 22 years ago, is valued at USD 88 billion. The industry went upside down in the past two decades, and we even don’t need a publisher now…. times are changing andthe message is clear  .

Changing Role of Media – The Political dimension: Media is now not just a platform, it is a tool If you wish to fight an MLA election in Uttar Pradesh next year, you need to have 25000 followers online to seek an election ticket  .

Also, over the past few years, we have seen that the government policies were withdrawn due to the ‘hue and cry’ in social media. So, the online / digital media has a new veto power in politics

Politicians are now reaching out to the audience via twitter and providing relief.The online media is also personalized and interactive, and delivers on the target.This is flipping the power in the hands of the consumer

Social media is very important for politicians as not only,it connects them to their audience, it amplifies their reach, knowledge and impact

Old media could cover news and the new media has the power to create news. This makes it a great tool

My personal experience: How media has changed personally for me?  I stopped reading the print newspapers a few months ago,because;

1. During my travels , the news papers would pile up in my study and it was tough to catch up with the unread newspapers

2. With online newspapers ,I can forward ( email ) or save important news

3. I can read when I am traveling and news from any part of the world in any part of the world

4. Also, it is updated live … I don’t have to wait for my newspaper vendor to come late or bring a wet newspaper during rains,and wait for the magazine to come every fortnight or month, when I need and can read the news instantly

5. I can comment and put forth my views. So, the old media is passive media and the new media is active and interactive …. It makes sense to be using new media. Digital media has an edge over the traditional print media

6. Above all, It is free

The new age mediais bottoms up and not top down. You can ‘buy’ the new age media ..‘Trending’ will size you up  Also, the new media is smaller and crisper. I don’t have to read the entire news, I can read the headline and go into the content based on my interest

I believe that in the next few years, twitter will become a news-channel or newspaper, and so will your TV transition into live app on phone, or Youtube may make way for multiple TV channels.

The media world will change faster than we can think  Media has evolved from being a newsmaker to career maker and a policy maker  The flip side of the new media is same as old age media … it is getting over crowded too fast. Luckily, it is asset-light to withstand balance sheet pressures

Now, the  ‘virtual’ world Is the ‘real world’, and at this time, digital media is complementing the print media but in the near future, it has the potential to replace it, andwe cannot rule out its progression from prominence to dominance in the next few years Digital is successful because of ‘edge’ and not ‘age’ and those who do not take corrective steps, will face a crisis of relevance and existence both

(Rajendra Pratap Gupta is a leading public policy expert. Views are personal ) –

Media will face a crisis of existence in a decade

Packaging sells and also kills !

We heard the famous marketing quote that , ‘ packaging sells’, but the story for most of the India’s middle class, who eat on roadside eateries is somewhat different , and the new message is ‘packaging kills’ , and more so, when food gets garnished with lead and other hazardous chemicals !

India is a foodie nation, and with the rising middle class, our eating habits are changing. There is an increasing tendency to eat food outside, and India, predominantly being a middle class nation, our preference is for road side eateries and small or mid size restaurants. But what goes unnoticed is; the newspapers used in packing food items, or the printed material on tea bags, and the potential dangers associated with them.

It is a fact, that the newspapers are printed with ink that is dissolved on it with the help of chemical solvents. Studies have shown that printing ink from newspapers can easily gets into foods wrapped or served in them and this is dangerous for health. The solvents used in ink are potentially carcinogenic.

Also, newspapers and cardboard boxes used for packaged foods are made of recycled paper, which may be contaminated with harmful chemicals like di-isobutyl phthalate and di-n-butyl phthalate that can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity.

It is a fact that the recycled paper used has printing ink residues. These un-cleaned residues have found to contain hormone disruptors like benzophenones and mineral oils which can interfere with reproductive cycle of women.

Through the print based packaging, there is an exposure to organic chemicals called aryl amines, such as benzidine, Naphthylamine and 4-Aminobiphenyl, which are associated with high risks of bladder and lung cancer. Apart from these, printing inks also contain colorants, pigments, binders, additives and photo-initiators, which have harmful effects.
It is also believed, that the mineral oil-based printing inks for newspapers contain mineral oils, which consists of various types of hydrocarbon molecules that can exist as Mineral Oil Saturated Hydrocarbons (MOSH) and Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOAH). These hydrocarbons usually convert into gases by evaporation that eventually penetrates food items.
Newspapers are usually produced by a system called offset-web printing, which requires a certain consistency of the ink (it needs to be very thick) and a particular means of drying. For the former, mineral oils (petroleum-based) and solvents such as methanol, benzene and toluene are used; and for the latter, heavy metal (Cobalt)-based drying agents are used. None of these should be used in food packaging, as they are also classified as harmful and can be dangerous for health if consumed.
According to the FAO / WHO, Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, the safe upper limit for the MOSH in foodstuffs is 0.6mg/kg. Older people, teenagers, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune system are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer-related health complications.
Another problem lies in the plastic bags used in takeaways. These bags are made of polyethylene (polythene) and the principal potential ‘migrant’ agent is ethylene. There are a number of potential additives to polythene, such as anti-static agents, ultra-violet protection and flame-retardants. These additives can be very dangerous if they find way into the takeaway food, which usually happens.
According to an article in the British Medical Journal, ‘Food packaging and migration of food contact materials: will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge? J. Epidemiol’ by Muncke J, et al. (Feb 2014), scientists say that most food contact materials (FCMs) are not inert. Chemicals contained in the FCM, such as monomers, additives, processing aids or reaction by-products, can diffuse into foods and this chemical diffusion is accelerated by warm temperature, and in India, the temperatures can touch as high as 45 degrees Celsius.
The scientists believe that FCMs are a significant source of chemical food contamination. As a result, humans consuming packaged or processed foods are chronically exposed to synthetic chemicals throughout their lives.
Formaldehyde, another known carcinogen, is widely present at low levels in plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate. Other chemicals known to disrupt hormone production and used in food and drink packaging include; Bisphenol A, tributyltin, triclosan and phthalates.
There is an increase in the use of tea bags, and while using teabags, sometimes people squeeze the teabag using the label at the end of the loop. This can leak the ink from the label. I would recommend that the guidelines be framed and implemented to warn people of the same and prevent this practice
I also suggest that based on the facts available, it might be worthwhile banning the use of plastics, recycled materials and newspapers for food packing.

The FSSAI must act immediately and frame guidelines to control wrapping of fried foods in newspapers, banning the use of plastic bags for takeaways, and other practices that are harmful.
Further, it must mandate the use of ‘food packaging grade’ butter paper or aluminum foil for packaging food. We need to act on this without losing any further time
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily subscribe to it. shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.

About Rajendra Pratap Gupta

Rajendra Pratap Gupta is a global healthcare leader and a revered public policy expert, and is the author of the Healthcare best selling book,  ‘ Healthcare Reforms in India – Making up for the lost decades’ . @rajendragupta

Healthcare Reforms in India

Elsevier unveils landmark literature on India’s healthcare reforms – 10 Feb 2016

STM publisher Elsevier recently announced the launch of Health Care Reforms in India: Making Up for the Lost Decade, an authoritative and incisive look at India’s healthcare system from the perspective of Rajendra Pratap Gupta, an expert healthcare observer as well as an influential and respected voice on public policy, innovation and the economy.

A media report cited World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of 1:1000 as the minimum requirement for doctor-to-population ratio, but The Lancet puts India’s statistics at an average of less than 0.4 doctors per 1,000 population count. There is also a gaping disparity in healthcare support between India’s rural and urban areas, with a supply of only 0.12 doctors to every 1,000 population in rural communities when compared to an urban supply of 1.13 doctors to every 1,000 population.

Health Care Reforms in India: Making Up for the Lost Decade – launched on February 3 to about 200 key academic, pharmaceutical, hospital and government representatives at the Elsevier-hosted ‘State of Health Care Reforms in India’ seminar – documents the development of India’s healthcare sector over the last 65 years and seeks to minimise the disparity by making the case for political priority and policies for universal healthcare coverage as well as an upstream pre-emptive approach to health through technology deployment and enablement.

Book is available on Flipkart I Amazon I Kindle

Continue reading “Healthcare Reforms in India”

We are ignoring the signals , and this could be dangerous

On October 11, 2012, i wrote the blog ‘From Emerging to a Submerging Economy’

I read the story in the Economic Times today, titled ‘Feast of Burden’ ( Page 10, ET dated August 3-9, 2014). It is almost two years since i wrote my blog and this story on corporate debt. Things are still the same , rather have gone worse . For example ,

The cumulative debt of;

  • Tata Group is about Rs. 2.00 lac Crore
  • Reliance ADA Group is about Rs. 83,000 Crore
  • Jaypee Group is about Rs.66,000 Crore
  • Bharti Group is about Rs.60,541 Crore
  • GMR Group is about Rs.37,788 Crore
  • Lanco Group is about 34, 876 Crore
  • HCC is about Rs. 11,150 Crore

I am not mentioning the rest of the groups like ESSAR etc…. Small and mid-size companies would further make the situation scary .

It is time that the Government asked all these companies to come out with a clear statement of how they are going to service these debts, to ensure that these companies do not end up creating a ‘cloud burst’ for the Indian middle class and disturb the economic prospects of this developing country

Rajendra Pratap Gupta