Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rickshaws and Management

Last week, I was returning from Vile Parle from a meeting by a rickshaw. To avoid driving in the office rush, I kept my car parked near the office in Malad. Somewhere between Jogeshwari and Goregaon, the driver swerved to overtake a tempo, and the rear wheel went over an elevated drainage cover. 

I could feel the rickshaw tilting to the left. I threw my weight on the right and luckily, we stayed upright. It all happened very fast, and if I had not been alert, the rickshaw would have overturned. Needless to say, that got me thinking….

After 6 months at the helm of affairs as Director @Deviprasad Goenka Management College of Media Studies, I think it is like driving a rickshaw. Just listing a few management lessons I have learnt …

The wheels are my team mates, my colleagues with authority (learnt that today!) with whom I navigate the academic path. When they know the road better than me, I listen to them. I need to see that they have enough air, and deflate ones with too much of it! Sometimes, though, I have to replace the one's that do not function, or go out of shape. Better not to take the risk of toppling the rickshaw.

And while doing all this, I function as the fourth wheel, maintaining the critical balance.

Students are my passengers, they come and go, but I function solely for them. Without them I have nothing to do. If they say I am good, I get more passengers, and my institute grows. I need to care for them, play some music, keep the atmosphere lively, at the same time, see that they reach their destination, get to the right jobs. I have to make their journey comfortable, give them the best I can from my limited resources. I have to also ensure that each one has a pleasant journey, and occasionally offload an unruly passenger.

I may be driving a rickshaw, but I have to flaunt it like I am driving a Mercedes, and aspire to make it onto one. Its not about what I have, but how I show it. One of the most important lessons that I have learnt in the last 6 months is that I need to STOP thinking like a rickshaw walla and think like the owner a Mercedes. 

You know why? 

A rickshaw walla DREAMS of buying more rickshaws; a Mercedes owner PLANS to buy more Mercedes.

All comments, more insights welcome.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The high's and low's of videos

Everyone knows that a compressed image pixellates when enlarged, and that a compressed video doesn't look that good when seen on a larger screen. There is actually a very simple logic at play here. The reason is actually very simple...

(Image source:

When we shoot one hour of full HD video, the frame size is 1920 X 1080 pixels, and the space occupied on the hard disk after it is transferred is about 50 GB. With SD footage the frame size is 720 X 576 pixels for PAl video (Standard Definition - fast becoming outdated) the captured video on the hard disk is about 12 GB. Of course it all depends on the codec you use for capturing the video.

The HD video is vibrant, crisp, and beautiful looking on your editing screen. If we make a blu-ray disk after the edit, it is almost as good as the original raw format because you can tranfer the edited video almost in its original format. The capacity of the double layer blu-ray disk is about 50 GB. So you can have a 2 hour movie in high resolution, maintaining most of its original richness.

So what happens in other formats?

The capacity of a VCD is 700 MB. Imagine what must be happening to the HD data and hence, its quality when you compress 25 GB to 700 MB! You have reduced the data to less than 3% of the original! Its like eating a sweet with very very less sugar. Besides, the frame size of a VCD video is 352 X 288 which is again less than 1/4th of the original 1920 X 1080. A DVD has a capacity of 4.7 can fit in a 2 hour PAL format movie with the frame size of 720 X 576 pixels. Though the picture quality if a DVD is much better thatn that of a VCD, you are still getting only 1/10th of the data. A little more sugar than the VCD sweet, but still, not the full dose.

What about online videos? Well, with the technology advances, we can view very good quality videos online, but they are still compressed enough to allow for streaming on the Internet. For a mobile phone, they are still compressed and a 3GP format will look horrible if blown up on a larger screen.

It's simple then, isnt it? More compression - less data - smaller file size, and bad picture quality. Do watch out for my upcoming video on resolution.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sherlock Holmes - The Master

We see things, but can we listen to what they say? Can we read what they 'write'? I have copied a rather large text from a Sherlock Holmes' Story - The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan (I mean the books by Arthur Conan Doyle), you have possibly read this before... As always, I am amazed by his powers of deduction and visual analysis..... 

I took the tattered object in my hands and turned it over rather ruefully. It was a very ordinary black hat of the usual round shape, hard and much the worse for wear. The lining had been of red silk, but was a good deal discoloured. There was no maker’s name; but, as Holmes had remarked, the initials “H. B.” were scrawled upon one side. It was pierced in the brim for a hat-securer, but the elastic was missing. For the rest, it was cracked, exceedingly dusty, and spotted in several places, although there seemed to have been some attempt to hide the discoloured patches by smearing them with ink.
“I can see nothing,” said I, handing it back to my friend.

Watson sees nothing. Now see what Sherlock sees and deduces from it.....

“On the contrary, Watson, you can see everything. You fail, however, to reason from what you see. You are too timid in drawing your inferences.”
“Then, pray tell me what it is that you can infer from this hat?”
He picked it up and gazed at it in the peculiar introspective fashion which was characteristic of him. “It is perhaps less suggestive than it might have been,” he remarked, “and yet there are a few inferences which are very distinct, and a few others which represent at least a strong balance of probability. That the man was highly intellectual is of course obvious upon the face of it, and also that he was fairly well-to-do within the last three years, although he has now fallen upon evil days. He had foresight, but has less now than formerly, pointing to a moral retrogression, which, when taken with the decline of his fortunes, seems to indicate some evil influence, probably drink, at work upon him. This may account also for the obvious fact that his wife has ceased to love him. He has, however, retained some degree of self-respect,” he continued, disregarding my remonstrance. “He is a man who leads a sedentary life, goes out little, is out of training entirely, is middle-aged, has grizzled hair which he has had cut within the last few days, and which he anoints with lime-cream. These are the more patent facts which are to be deduced from his hat.”

This is how he deduces it all...

For answer Holmes clapped the hat upon his head. It came right over the forehead and settled upon the bridge of his nose. “It is a question of cubic capacity,” said he; “a man with so large a brain must have something in it.”
“The decline of his fortunes, then?”
“This hat is three years old. These flat brims curled at the edge came in then. It is a hat of the very best quality. Look at the band of ribbed silk and the excellent lining. If this man could afford to buy so expensive a hat three years ago, and has had no hat since, then he has assuredly gone down in the world.”
“Well, that is clear enough, certainly. But how about the foresight and the moral retrogression?”
Sherlock Holmes laughed. “Here is the foresight,” said he putting his finger upon the little disc and loop of the hat-securer. “They are never sold upon hats. If this man ordered one, it is a sign of a certain amount of foresight, since he went out of his way to take this precaution against the wind. But since we see that he has broken the elastic and has not troubled to replace it, it is obvious that he has less foresight now than formerly, which is a distinct proof of a weakening nature. On the other hand, he has endeavoured to conceal some of these stains upon the felt by daubing them with ink, which is a sign that he has not entirely lost his self-respect.”
“Your reasoning is certainly plausible.”
“The further points, that he is middle-aged, that his hair is grizzled, that it has been recently cut, and that he uses lime-cream, are all to be gathered from a close examination of the lower part of the lining. The lens discloses a large number of hair-ends, clean cut by the scissors of the barber. They all appear to be adhesive, and there is a distinct odour of lime-cream. This dust, you will observe, is not the gritty, grey dust of the street but the fluffy brown dust of the house, showing that it has been hung up indoors most of the time, while the marks of moisture upon the inside are proof positive that the wearer perspired very freely, and could therefore, hardly be in the best of training.”
“But his wife—you said that she had ceased to love him.”
“This hat has not been brushed for weeks. When I see you, my dear Watson, with a week’s accumulation of dust upon your hat, and when your wife allows you to go out in such a state, I shall fear that you also have been unfortunate enough to lose your wife’s affection.”
“You have an answer to everything. But how on earth do you deduce that the gas is not laid on in his house?”
“One tallow stain, or even two, might come by chance; but when I see no less than five, I think that there can be little doubt that the individual must be brought into frequent contact with burning tallow—walks upstairs at night probably with his hat in one hand and a guttering candle in the other. Anyhow, he never got tallow-stains from a gas-jet. Are you satisfied?”
“Well, it is very ingenious,” said I, laughing; “but since, as you said just now, there has been no crime committed, and no harm done save the loss of a goose, all this seems to be rather a waste of energy.”

Needless to say, when the owner of the hat arrives, everything Sherlock deduces is true. Visual Analysis at its best. It is better that I don't say anything more... the Master has spoken.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Speaking Visuals

All visuals have a message. Some are created by us, some, by nature. The beholder/receiver of the message analyses the message, makes meaning out of it; the visual generates responses at several levels. There are several factors that have an effect on our perception of a visual.

According to Norman, there are three levels of design: visceral, behavior, and reflective.
  • At the visceral level, which is based on instinct, physical features like look, feel, and sound dominate. When we perceive something as “pretty”, that judgment comes directly from the visceral level. 
  • Behavior design concerns the use, or ease of use where appearance may not be significant. In most behavior design functionality gets the top priority. 
  • In a reflective design message, culture and the meaning of a product gets priority. 
However, today, consumers are more critical, prone to analyse a visual at the visceral and behavior level, so the designing is done to evoke emotion, arouse past experiences, create a great user experience to enable future recall of that design. An ideal design would first stimulate a consumer at the visceral level and later, at the reflective level. This means the design should not simply evoke emotions based on appearances alone, but give personal satisfaction, evoke memories that may arouse their emotions.

That is why, so much importance is given to presentation today, rather than the content. If the presentation is good, you have won half the battle. Just look at the book covers today. Many people pick up a book because the cover is well designed. Why just books, many go and watch a movie because the promo they watch on the TV or on YouTube promises a fantastic movie. I have fallen prey to this too.

What is the role of  the eye in all this? Actually, apart from receiving the light, almost nothing. But more of that in the next post.  Meanwhile, enjoy these pics. I am sure you must have seen many such paintings online. One last question... how many remember the Hastinapur story from Mahabharat?





Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Visuals speak. A thousand words, or even more.

Visuals speak. A thousand words, or even more.

But are we able to hear what they say? And do we really understand what they say? Rhetoric is the art of persuading the audience, with written or verbal arguments, or using any other means of communication. These other means of communication are non-verbal - using expressions, gestures, mannerisms, and images or visuals, and are sometimes more effective than verbal, textual, written communication. A gesture, a raised eyebrow, a wink, or a closed fist could be more effective than a lot of words.

In a previous post in this blog, I have written about how we form an opinion about an object or a person in a single glance. In that single glance, we perceive, recognize and also form an opinion. How fast is this process? Experiments have proven that it could be as fast as a fraction of a second. But otherwise, there is also a longer process, that of the cortical pathway in the brain, which recalls and matches images, and the meanings they convey from resident memory in the cortex. Though not directly related, it could be the sleeper effect that affects the way we treat the visual, and behave accordingly. The sleeper effect postulates that when exposed to a persuasive message, over time, we tend to forget the source, but start believing that the message was true.

The brain stores the visual which is seen just for a fraction of a second, and is recalled subconsciously. Advertisers have been using this technique to persuade us to buy a product, sometimes even when we don't need to. This is done by using subliminal advertising, sometimes subtle, and sometimes blatantly in-the-face. This technique was first described in 1957, and though it turned out to be a hoax at that time, it is in use very regularly in advertising.

I was channel surfing in the evening, and came across an Akshay Kumar film - Holiday - a soldier is never off duty. While trying to decipher a coded message from a paper he finds on a terrorist, he first uses an Apple Macbook Pro laptop - the Apple logo is shown clearly, and then uses Google Maps for Mobile (on his Mac Pro - not on his mobile!) to identify the locations on the map of Mumbai. Even AajTak and Times now is shown clearly. Ok, you could say that it is coincidental, that he does uses all this. But remember, when you spend crores when making a movie, every shot is PLANNED. Let's discuss this phenomenon in the next update.

I am sure you must have noticed such advertising several times in Hindi movies. Can you name a few?

Check out :

40.23 mins Apple and Google
1.05.52 AaajTak
1.07 Times Now

Friday, July 10, 2015

Radio - The Coolest One!

Radio - The Coolest One!

I am one of those people, who have actually seen a television set coming into their homes for the first time, a digital immigrant. I remember how excited we were when it was delivered. A black-and-white television, which we immediately fell in love with. But we did not have programmes for 24 hours; instead, we just had a few hours of TV in the beginning.

I remember, the time when we used to see a cricket match on TV. The cameramen were so untrained, that if a batsman hit a sixer, by the time the camera located the ball, it would be already in the crowd. We used to feel extremely bored by the commentary. We were used to a fast paced radio commentary, which gave continuous description of whatever went on on the field. It was full of so many words. On the other hand, on the TV, the commentator would just say, "Oh! What a shot!" and shut up, leaving the viewer to see the rest for themselves. We used to find that extremely boring! So we used to turn the TV volume down, place our beloved transistor on top the the TV, and watch the match with the commentary from the radio.

When we speak, many times, it is not our words that communicate, but the tone of our voice, the inflection in it, the volume, and the overall expression in the voice are more important. That is why, radio is an effective medium, because it helps us conjure images in our mind. I remember, we used to get a kit with Rasna (an instant fruit drink powder). The kit consisted of a cardboard depicting the cricket ground, and small card figurines of every player in both the teams. The commentary used to describe the placement of the fielders in detail, and we used to arrange the players' figurines accordingly. It was fun to watch the cricket match listening to the commentary that way. The radio commentary used to be thrilling, and I can vouch for anyone my age, that we used to live the excitement of the cricket match, with the radio in full volume, the sound of the crowd, and the commentators yelling over the noise!

Before the television came into our lives, our electronic media comprised of the radio, and at the most, a calculator, or the prized electronic watch. Despite the radio losing a little bit of its sheen now, it is still an important, and a powerful medium. It is powerful because it has a very wide reach, but it is also powerful because it helps in visual communication. Not that's a little far fetched, isn't it? Well, not really. When we listen to the radio, because we do not have the privilege of ay images, we conjure them from our memory. So when we listen to a moving song, a dialogue, a speech, or a narration, while we listen to it, our mind keeps searching for the relevant images. Radio involves us more than the television, because it forces us to think and fill the gaps created by the absence of images. That is why, Marshall McLuhan called the radio a 'cooler' medium over television, because it is much more engaging.

(Image source:

So don't write off radio just yet! You don't have to hold a radio in your hand to listen to it. You don't have to leave your chores for it. You don't even have to look at it. And yet, it keeps you engaged with itself. No wonder, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned to radio for his Mann Ki Baat!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Beautiful and Ugly - A Matter of Perception?

How does the mind receive and analyse information from a visual? It is a complex process involving the left and right hemispheres of the brain, together synchronising the logical and emotional intelligence, at the same time, involving learning through genetic evolution, and adding to it experiential learning.

I came across a Facebook update which described how some primary school textbooks, the meaning of beautiful and ugly were represented. Check the picture.... (Source: Unknown)

How many readers agree to this? No, don't give me an intelligent, sociologically relevant, politically correct answer. Truth is, we have all learnt the meaning of beautiful and ugly from this, or some other picture, or have been pointed out a beautiful woman and an ugly one during our childhood and in our college days. In the early stages of childhood, from birth to 3 years, the human brain is extremely vulnerable to external influences. A violent childhood, a traumatic experience, or visuals such as these can have profound effect on the way the left and the right hemispheres are wired, and decide how the brain will react to certain circumstances in the future.

So a visual itself communicates something to you, first from its evident characteristics. Add to it your personal influences. To complicate the matter further, you also have to consider your sense of smell and taste, which further influence how you analyse a visual. Rather complicated, isn't it?

Well, it is a matter of perception, cognition, resemblances, recognition and representation. There is also the concept of visual rhetoric, semiotics, and finally, aesthetics. Add to it your cultural influences, and you have utter chaos. But the mind works through all this, finds a way out of cognitive dissonances, and gives you an answer, whatever it might be.

We will keep exploring visual communication in future posts. Till then, here's food for thought... imagine an beautiful flower, which gives out a nasty smell, or cow dung on the road smelling like the best dish you have ever tasted!

Beautiful frog in the picture, isn't it? This is a poison dart frog. Meet the most poisonous frog in the world! One drop of toxin from a poison dart frog will kill you within 3 minutes. Unfortunately, there is no cure. Still find it beautiful? Right?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

An article by Sam Pitroda

I had written about Digital India and also about Sam Pitroda.  Here's an article from Sam Pitroda himself. 

Four critical things that make a Digital India possible today and challenges ahead 
By Sam Pitroda

This government's Digital India campaign is a welcome step in creating an India of the 21st century powered by connectivity, technology and the opportunity that such connectivity offers in terms of access, services and platforms for unleashing India's creative talent. 

However, it is imperative to understand what it means to create a 'Digital India'. Such an effort requires an entire ecosystem of support and an apparatus for implementation that has to be developed and matured over a period of time.

While the face of Digital India may be a website providing e-governance or connectivity between the citizen and the government, the thinking, vision and systems that produce this end product are implemented over several years. 

And the seeds of India's Digital vision were first laid by Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s when his government took the pioneering steps for creating the National Informatics Centre (NIC), the digital arm of the then very much 'manually operated' government. NIC laid the groundwork for computerising government systems by building a national network with data centres in Delhi. In essence, this was the first piece of the vision of a digital India — connectivity.

I would like to outline below the four critical pieces that make a Digital India possible today and which have been implemented over the last several years:

The first part is connectivity. The connectivity provided by NIC was the beginning of an effort to computerise government and digitise India for the 21st century. In the last 25 years, NIC has done a remarkable job of building human capacity, institutional frameworks and programmes for egovernance functionalities. 

Read more at:

Deadlines are deadlines, even if you are Dead!

Working in the media is certainly not for the faint hearted. There are deadlines. If you are dying, your boss would probably tell you to file the report and then die! The deadline remains.

I have been speaking about this in my class, and have been trying to live by it for so many years now. You cannot keep your client waiting, and neither your audiences. My students had painted this line on the door of the classroom, and some students still call it the 'Deadline Room'.

The news starts exactly at the time it is supposed to, a TV serial also starts when it is supposed to. No TV channel can show a screen asking the viewers to wait while a reporter is busy filing a report. A TV serial cannot wait till an edit is done. Its all done in clockwork precision. If you miss a deadline, you can be sure that you have lost your job.

There are several things tied to this. When there is news at nine, millions of viewers and listeners are glued to the television set, or their radio for the news. For a popular serial, people manage their daily chores to sit in front of the television. Considering how fickle the audiences are, a channel simply cannot take the risk of starting their programme late, because within seconds, they could lose their viewers to the remote control and to other channels.

The second important thing is the other audience, the advertisers. Revenue generation in media depends heavily on advertisements. Every second lost showing a blank screen, means the loss of a lot of revenue. That is why, every second on the television screen is planned. The only exception probably is Doordarshan and AIR, which actually show a screen saying 'The next programme in a short time' or there is simply nothing playing on the radio. Just in case you don't believe me, ask anyone in the media.

But you know, there is a certain thrill living by this philosophy. Just keeping it in mind helps you, and makes you more organised, makes you plan your assignments, your studies, preparing for  your examinations, and your work, so that you don't miss the deadline. It helps you develop a professional approach, and helps you also discipline your life generally. That does not mean you are not supposed to enjoy life. You can set a deadline for that too!

Conclusion? A deadline is a deadline, even if you are Dead.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Formula for a hit film?

It is naive to think that you can hit upon the perfect research topic at the first go. Research can be a piece of cake, and you can have it, but you may not really be able to eat it! That's exactly why, instead of starting to work on the concept of a formula for a hit film, I decided straightaway to search for research done on the subject. That's why we do literature review anyway. And look what I found....

Instead of paraphrasing any of the texts that I found, I am directly going to copy-paste the relevant sentences and give links at the end of this post - Wikipedia style...

Psychologist Professor James Cutting and his team from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, analyzed 150 high-grossing Hollywood  released from 1935 to 2005 and discovered the shot lengths in the more recent movies followed the same mathematical  that describes the human attention span. The pattern was derived by scientists at the University of Texas in Austin in the 1990s who studied the attention spans of subjects performing hundreds of trials. The team then converted the measurements of their attention spans into wave forms using a mathematical technique known as the Fourier transform. They found that the magnitude of the waves increased as their frequency decreased, a pattern known as pink noise, or 1/f fluctuation, which means that attention spans of the same lengths recurred at regular intervals. The same pattern has been found by Benoit Mandelbrot (the chaos theorist) in the annual flood levels of the Nile, and has been seen by others in air turbulence, and also in music.(1)
Forget zombies. The data crunchers are invading Hollywood. The same kind of numbers analysis that has reshaped areas like politics and online marketing is increasingly being used by the entertainment industry. Netflix tells customers what to rent based on algorithms that analyze previous selections, Pandora does the same with music, and studios have started using Facebook “likes” and online trailer views to mold advertising and even films.(2)
A group of researchers from Tottori University in Japan, have developed a math equation that can predict if a movie is going to be a success or a flop. The complicated formula takes into account various factors, including advertising, word-of-mouth, and social networks.(3)

Based on factors such as whether key stars are still on board, how long it has been since the last film and how that performed, the researchers say they can calculate what producers can expect to gross relative to a film in the same genre that is not a sequel. "It is the industry of dreams, an industry of illusions, and lots of people go bust. The idea here is to put some more analytical thinking into the process," says Professor Thorsten Hennig-Thurau, of Cass Business School in London.(4)
Common wisdom says that the box-office success of any particular movie is a crapshoot. Now NYU Stern Marketing Professor Sam K. Hui and colleagues have devised a formula to take some of the guesswork out of movie-making. In their paper, “Green-lighting Movie Scripts: Revenue Forecasting and Risk Management,” Hui and his co-authors studied 200 scripts over six years, examining features including genre, contents, semantics, and the use of specific words, then related their findings to box office revenues and production budgets.(5)
Google unveils formula to accurately predict box-office takings - a month before the film is released (6)
Scholars think they've found the key to predicting how much money a movie will make its opening weekend in North America, up to a month in advance of its release. And no, it's not social media buzz – those metrics are so five minutes ago. Rather, it's the activity surrounding the movie's Wikipedia entry.
Do my students spot a research topic here? Do enjoy reading these articles. You will find more on the Internet. Just Google it. 
More tomorrow .........

Monday, June 29, 2015

Radiance of flowers + liquor = Love?

शोखियों में घोला जाये फूलों का शबाब
उस में फिर मिलाई जाये थोड़ीसी शराब
होगा यूँ नशा जो तैय्यार वो प्यार है

Mix the radiance of flowers.
Then add a small measure of liquor.
The state of giddy stupor
That you get from all the above
Is what we call love.

For a full and a beautiful translation of the whole song, you must visit 
by Shivani Mohan. Amazing translations of all those beautiful songs we are fond of)

These are the lyrics of a song from the Hindi film, Prem Pujari. But then we know that love is not so simple as that, isn't it? But why am I talking about love? Well, if love could have a formula, why not films? Just suppose there was a formula like H2 + O = H2O everyone would make a hit film. No one would be worried about giving a flop and losing a lot of money. This is exactly what a guest, a complete system's man, said the other day in my office. He was completely convinced that if he would be able to develop a formula which would help the producers to make a successful film every time.

Would this really work? I mean why don't we really develop a formula which will help producers and directors, with a hit every time? I'm sure no producer or director in the right frame of mind suddenly wake up one fine morning and say, "Hey! Let's make a flop today." But then, why do some films go on to become box office hits, while some turn out to be duds?

One reason could be polysemy. A simple meaning to polysemy is 'many meanings'. The meaning I derive out of a media content could be different than the meaning derived by you. However, the content that you and me see is exactly different. So a heavy rainfall in a scene might gladden one person's heart, whereas for another it might bring out feelings of horror of a flood. Not only there are different meaning derived, but it also depends on the mood a person is in.

So if I get a lot of traffic while driving to work, the vehicle moving at a snail's pace, honking and shouting all around, I would prefer to watch a Nat Geo, or a Discovery channel with pleasant visuals than the cacophony of a slapstick comedy when I get home. But if I enjoy my drive home, I might burst out laughing at the silliest of jokes.

How then, could a movie be made to please everyone in the audience? Even with a formula, can one guarantee a box office hit? Because a formula may work for one type of audience, but not other, and it may work depending the overall mood of the public.

But still, that discussion made me curious. I decided to explore if any such formula does exist. The results of my search are interesting. More tomorrow....

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 7 - Blame it on Sam Pitroda

Blame it on Sam Pitroda

We have all become isolated, independent units, hiding behind the cool, smooth glass surface of our monitors and mobile phones. We are connected to the society only when these devices are connected to a network. Otherwise, we are alone, lost in our own world, concerned with only the self, becoming narcissists. We are prone to exposing our thoughts, feelings, life events, loves, hates, and joys online, on social media sites. We measure our quality of living on how many 'likes' our Facebook status acquires, or how many 'hits' our websites get.We are exposing ourselves to the extreme, to the point of obscenity. We find ecstasy in communication. This is what Jean Baudrillard and other philosophers say. Neil Postman also says that we have become 'technophiles' and overdependent on technology to point of thinking that our day cannot start without reading whats on WhatsApp or other social media. Robin Jefferey call us the 'mobile nation'. Technology has deprived us of any sort of semblance of social capital, so necessary for a successful society.

Personally, I think we need not be so pessimistic. Please read my earlier post. But then, who is responsible for all this, especially in India? Well, let's go back a little in history.

The McBride Report, generated from the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO), a study sponsored by UNESCO failed to change the way the world communicates. That was because the two biggest sponsoring nations, US and UK backed out citing commercial reasons. Around the same time (1980s), several changes took place in the political and economic scenario in India.

Immediately after the Emergency, imposed by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was lifted in 1997, the Janata Government came into power, but lasted only for two years. Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1979. During this period she invited Sam Pitroda to develop the communication network in India. He was also advisor to Rajiv Gandhi following the death of Indira Gandhi. During this period of political turmoil, the country was also going through an economic crisis. 

India’s Economic Policy and the Communication Revolution 

In 1991, a Balance of Payments crisis brought India to the brink of bankruptcy. For obtaining a bailout from the International Monetary Fund or the IMF, India was forced to introduce several economic reforms (Not to take away any credit from Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister). Controls were dismantled, duties, tariffs and taxes were lowered, monopolistic state organizations were dismantled and the economy was opened to trade and investment. The private sector was encouraged by these reforms. As the ‘license raj’ partly ended, there was a surge in the businesses and India quickly entered the globalised world. Two of the biggest beneficiaries of these reforms were the Telecommunications and the Information Technology sectors.

The telecommunications infrastructure, which was wholly owned by the government, was opened to the private sector producing exemplary results. The regulatory constraints were eased in 2004 and now India boasts of the third largest telecommunications network in the world (OECD, 2007).  This was because of the steps taken by Mr. Sam Pitroda, widely known as the architect of the modern, state-of the art, communication telecommunication network that India possesses. The yellow coloured PCO (Public Call Offices) dotting the country are a result of the vision of Sam Pitroda. The electronic, and then the digital telephone exchanges, are a result of Mr. Sam Pitroda's meticulous planning and vision. The mobiles that you use everyday, are also a result of that.

Today, in 2015, India has the second largest population of mobile phone users in the world and has over 100 million Internet users (India Internet Usage). There are several Internet and mobile service providers in the country and their intense competition has resulted in cheaper mobile phone and Internet services. Though there is a difference in the speed of Internet connectivity between India and the western world, it is still much better than it was a decade ago.

During the last decade, India has become a hub for the world for outsourcing software services. This has resulted in faster transfer of not only technology, but manpower, media, and finance, from the western world to the country, creating millions of jobs and earning the country precious foreign exchange and at the same time enabling the country to have communication technology at par with the developed world.

Youth, who form a major chunk of India's population, have embraced the new media and produce content using their computers, laptops or their mobile phones, uploading it on video sharing platforms, blogs and social media networks. They prefer to read content online rather than read a book or newspapers. They prefer to interact with the medium rather than be passive receivers of information. This is the generation of tomorrow's global citizens.

Of course there are problems, but is technology to blame? Marshall McLuhan said that we shaped technology, and now technology is shaping us. Is it wrong? I am sure, we will be able to harness this very technology for the betterment of mankind. But then who is to blame for the problems we are facing? Sam Pitroda?

A footnote: I wonder if Mr. Sam Pitroda will ever read this. If he does, I am sure he will take it in the right spirit. This post is dedicated to him. Thank you, Mr. Pitroda.

Note: This series of posts is by no means a definitive guide about how it all happened. And I have also not resorted to documentation, or references. This is the story from my own eyes, as a witness and a participant in the evolution of communication in India.

Monday, June 22, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 6 - Software


A Windows PC 386, with 120 MB Hard disk and 4 MB RAM. Even my mobile phone is at least 3 times faster than the first PC I owned. What software could possibly run on that ancient PC? Well, you will be surprised to know, a lot many.

I bought my first PC to start my own business in graphic designing. If I remember right, I used CorelDraw 3 and Pagemaker 4 for my designs. And I did not have a colour monitor. It was all done in black and white and we used to use a colour chart to specify the colours that had to be printed. I used to mostly deal with a lot of screen printers, so the designs required mostly spot colours. There was, of course no Internet, and we used to refer to design books for ideas and Pantone Colour charts for colour combos. Surprisingly, CorelDraw and Pagemaker, both used to run very smoothly on that PC with 4 MB RAM.

Then came something called AGP card - Accelerated Graphics Port, which changed everything. It was a card which had to be inserted into the PC, fixed on a slot on the mother board. It helped the computer render millions of colours. Today, that card has become a miniaturized chip on the mother board. By this time, we had colour monitors, and faster PCs, which could render the colours.

The computers and the software were still meant for people who were rather experts. Computers were still out of reach of a large section of the populations.But with the designers and printers, the usage was growing. Things started changing rapidly after 1995, when the Internet came in. I remember, at that time, along with graphic designing, I also used to take up printing jobs. Printing letter heads, envelopes and visiting cards was a major revenue earner for us. After the Internet came in, within a couple of years, this part of our business died down. Organizations either simply stopped ordering letter heads, of the quantities got too less.

But during these days, all the time, the PCs kept getting faster, the storage spaces kept getting bigger, and the software were available in more and more advanced versions. By the time I got into full time teaching in 2006 and quit my business, we were using CorelDraw 12, PageMaker 7 and Photoshop 5. I had also started making animations, and the last version of Flash I used was Flash MX 2004.Even now, most people use only the Microsoft Office software, and the ones that we used for designing, are still used only by professionals. However, there is one major change.....

Mobile telephony has not only made communication easier, but also put easy-to-use software/applications - or 'apps' as they are called into the hands of the common man. Today, once you click a photograph, or shoot a video on your mobile phone, you can easily edit it, also give effects and upload it to YouTube, or send it across using WhatsApp, Facebook, or any email app. Graphic designing and film making, blogging and making web pages and websites, is no longer the domain of a few. Anyone having a smartphone can do all this, and more.

Truly, we have turned from consumers to active producers of content. And the world of media is no more in the hands of a few. Who is to be given credit for all this? Do watch out for my next post... the final in this series.

Till then, keep reading, and please do comment. And all graduates, if you find this interesting, visit

Sunday, June 21, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 5 - Social Media

Social Media

When Facebook was launched in 2004, I had started teaching in the Department Communication and Journalism, at the University of Mumbai. I remember my first lecture. I was afraid that I would embarrass myself. I had never faced a bunch of 20 youngsters together in my life. But I suppose the lecture went off well, because the then Head of the Department, Dr. Sanjay Ranade, did ask me to continue!

My students and I used to communicate with each other using Yahoo Groups, and Orkut. Remember Orkut? I am sure at least some of you do. It was fun, being on Orkut, creating groups, and interacting with so many friends. I know my students used to gossip a lot about the faculty. It was a lot of fun, and the first social media that we really used, apart from the Yahoo Groups, usually for exchange of notes and announcements.

We were not used to blogging much. I did start a few blogs, but was never really consistent till I have started writing everyday on this blog for the last 2 weeks. MySpace, which was launched in 2003, never gained much popularity at least here, in India. When Facebook was launched in 2004, we all thought it was another fad. First Orkut, then Facebook, and then there would be probably something else later. But no, Facebook caught the fancy of the young, and became insanely popular. Social media is almost synonymous with Facebook now. The award winning YouTube arrived in 2005, and was quickly bought by Google in 2006. It also became hugely popular, because of its very original software, which allowed people to upload their videos and show them to anyone online.

LinkedIn was launched in 2002, but became popular a little later. If Facebook is a site for fun, LinkedIn gained status as a platform for professionals to seek jobs, exchange thoughts and ideas. Twitter was launched in 2006, and we all know how popular it is and how it works. We also have Pinterest and Instagram, and scores of apps online and on mobile phones. Social media really took off when Internet became accessible on the mobile phones and people became really addicted to social media. Today probably the most popular is WhatsApp. Almost everyone I know is on it... all the time.

It has changed the way we communicate, and hence, it has changed the way we live. Studies have shown how excessive use of social media has led to several problems, like Social Media Anxiety Disorder, Cyberbullying, extreme addiction, and even schizophrenic behaviour.

My personal view, as I have written in a previous post is that in a few generations, we will be able to handle media better, use it for productivity rather than just for fun. I am sure, the humankind will not allow itself to deteriorate to extinction! We are the greatest survivors after all.

But to keep with the theme of this series of posts, computers, Internet, cameras and social media, have evolved together. While the speed of PCs developed, the other supporting hardware and software developed too. And all this time, for the last 40 odd years, we have been progressively become content creators, becoming more and more independent of the traditional media to communicate with each other, and with the world. The Internet itself, according to me, was born out of this need to communicate, to enable two-way communication when the traditional media prevented us from doing so. There are so many connotations to this, but more in another post.

Till then, keep reading, and please do comment. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 4 - The Internet

The Internet

I remember, in 1996, in a meeting, a client showed me the Internet. We browsed through Yahoo, one of the most popular websites and search engines at that time. I was amazed that I could just search for any subject and get so much information. I immediately wanted get it on my computer at home, but the only service provider at that time was VSNL - Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited and the cost was Rs.15000 for 100 hours! But very soon, on demand, the rates were brought down to an affordable Rs.1500 per 100 hours of browsing. There was, of course, a catch here. First, you needed to buy an external modem (about Rs.4000/-) and connect it to the phone line to connect to the Internet. There were no schemes or data packages other than the one mentioned. So if you did 100 hours of browsing, it translated to 200 phone calls, which in turn meant a whopping telephone bill. And I did get a bill of about Rs.4000/- which is like getting a bill of about Rs.30000/- now!

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The best thing to do then, was to visit Internet Cafes, which had cropped up in a number of places in all localities. They allowed us to browse for about Rs.30 to Rs.40 per hour. This was much cheaper and we mostly used the Internet to exchange emails, or hunt for jobs.To save on time we spent on the Internet and also save money, we used to type our messages/content on a text file and carry it with us on a floppy, CD or a pen drive, so we got to browse more and spend less time typing. Sabeer Bhatia, who made Hotmail and then sold it to Microsoft was like God to many who had started living on the Internet. Almost everyone my age will have a Hotmail and a Yahoo ID.

The Internet used to 'come' in our computers through an external modem. To connect to the Internet, we had to double-click on the modem icon, and click on the 'Connect' button. Then after a series of clicks we used to get connected. We used a 56.6 Kbps (Kilo Bytes per second) modem, meaning, the maximum speed we could attain was 56.6 Kbps, but the maximum that I had ever got during that time was 44.1 Kbps. The art of designing websites was rather new, so people used heavy graphics randomly. I remember, I had waited almost an hour for the University of Mumbai's Home page to 'appear' on the screen. The logo used was 2 MB in file size!!!

We also had a service provider for some time called Caltiger (Ever heard of this one?) which offered FREE Internet services. The Kolkata based organisation shut down in 2003 because their free Internet services did not really work out. The only hitch with Caltiger was that the top of the screen had advertisements; but still, you could at least get the Internet free.

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The rest, of course is history. The telephone network became digital, we got DSL modems allowing much higher speeds. Within a short time, from 44 Kbps, we could get Internet speeds of 1 Mbps at home, and much faster in organisations which could afford better hardware. Then of course came the WiFi routers, and we are no longer confined to the chair at the computer for accessing the Internet. The services too became cheaper and affordable, with so many data plans to choose from.

Internet on the mobile telephone appeared much later, and with 2G and then 3G services, everyone could connect to the Internet. (Do read my earlier post about Reliance Mobiles by going to this link: In India, more than 40% of those having mobile phones connect to the Internet exclusively using mobiles! This itself has been a major factor in us the consumers, becoming producers of content. In fact, though the computers became common in the 90's they still did not reach a large section of the population, because even though the computers became much cheaper and faster, computers still remained expensive enough to many. Moreover, you needed electricity to run a computer, which was not a luxury many had.

But more of that in my next post. Till then, happy surfing.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 3 - Storage Devices

I used to do a lot of graphic designing and make films for various corporates. One day, I went to show the first cut of a film that I had made for an organization. I went with the film to the concerned brand manager, and when he asked me for a CD, and I said I didn't have one, he thought I was joking. I put my hand in the pocket and brought out my brand new pen-drive and said, that his film was in it. Most people in the office thought I had gone crazy, or I had probably hit my head on something. I made him pull out his computer and put the pen-drive in the USB port, and viola! We had the film copied on to his PC in a few minutes! They did not even know the USB port. Of course it was entirely new to everyone including me at that time. But more about pen-drives later.

When we speak of storage devices, the first thing we think of is the hard disk drive or the HDD. As I said in my first post in this series, my first PC had a hard disk of a whopping 120 MB and the second one 1.2 GB. Then of course, the memory capacity of HDDs went on increasing rapidly, and now having a 500 GB or a 1 TB HDD is quite common. Have you ever opened a broken HDD? Do it, really. All it contains is a lot of circuits, and a small, thin plastic disk.

We used to be amazed by the amount of data these disks used to hold. We were always at our wits end when it came to transferring data. I am talking of the early 90's when we did not have the Internet. We used 5.25 inch floppy drives, which could get corrupted for no reason. Then we had the 3.5 inch floppy drives, a little bit sturdier, but still risky. I used to carry at least 2 copies of the data in different floppies just to be sure. Moreover, the data these floppies could hold was very limited.  The standard 5.25 inch floppy could hold only 1.2 MB data and the 3.5 inch floppy, 1.44 MB of data. Remember, our files also used to be much smaller than today.

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Then came something called the Zip Drive, which was like the 3.5 inch floppy, but was much sturdier and came in two variants - 100 MB and 250 MB. But the real change came when Phillips and Sony together developed the CD, or the compact disk. Suddenly, we had a capacity to transfer 600 to 750 MB of data. The CDs were safer, had less chances of getting corrupt, and also had a long shelf life. I still have some of the older CDs with me, and they still work fine. How significant was this?

In 1995, when Bill Gates gave Windows 95 to the world (in an extremely embarrassing ceremony, when the PC crashed during inauguration), the operating system came in 15 floppies! By 1998, the CDs had come in, and Windows 98 could be installed using just one CD. And why not, because a CD could hold data of 500 floppies!

The next big thing was the DVD - the Digital Video Drive, with a capacity of 4.37 GB or 8.5 GB, ones that we use today. The DVD changed a lot of things for us. One, it could carry a LOT of data. Second, we could watch films in a much better quality than the CDs. Why was that? Why was the movies in a DVD better than those on a CD? And today, we have the BluRay disk, with a storage capacity of 25 GB, with still higher quality of picture quality of movies. More about the movie quality and CD-BluRay in a later blog. Promise...

Along with these developments, the USB drive was also developed and we got two important devices. External HDDs and Pen Drives. External HDDs are a godsend to many, especially for those who have to transfer huge amounts of data. And I don't have to speak about how important the pen drive is to us, common humans!

But back to the story in the beginning. That first pen drive that I amazed my clients with, the one that gave me the status of being the only designer who was also techno savvy, cost me a whopping Rs.2900/- (yes, it did) and the capacity of that pen drive? 128 MB!

Let's link the three posts in this series. These are all parallel evolutions, ultimately leading to us, the consumers of content, consumers of media, turn into producers. The PC, Cameras, and Storage devices, all kept developing and complementing each other. I will deal with another interesting parallel evolution in the next post.

Here are the links to the first two in this series:

Do enjoy the rain, but protect your storage devices. Don't allow them to get wet. Nothing is more irritating and sometimes devastating than losing precious data.

#mediastudies #MediaEconomics #DigitalMedia

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 2

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 2

I wrote about computers in my last post in this series. Let's look at another technology that evolved along with computers and changed the way we communicate.

Still Cameras

I remember, when I was in school, we had a box camera, with which we could take black and white photographs. I used it for a long time, at least till 1983. I still have some of those pictures. From 1979 to mid-1980's the price of silver shot up more than 10 times, making silver nitrate, an important ingredient in photographic film and processing very expensive. This in turn, shot up the price of film rolls and photography as a hobby, simply went out of reach of many people.

The next camera (Rs.5000) I bought was for my wife the day my son, Tejas was born. December 01, 1994. This one also was a film based camera and by this time, we had colour film commonly available. The first photograph from this camera was of my son, taken by my wife, with me holding him in one hand, just about the length of my forearm. Well, now my son will easily be able to pick me up, probably with one hand! Still, photography was not something you did frequently. One postcard size print cost about Rs.6, so for one roll of the film, you ended up spending about 200 - 300 rupees. And there was no guarantee that all your photographs would come good. You couldn't just delete a bad photograph. There were of course expensive cameras always available, but only photography professionals used them.

Digital cameras arrived in the late 90's, but became commonly available and affordable in the 90's. This brought about a major change. Suddenly, we could preview the photographs, and more than that, click as many photographs as our memory card allowed. From being an expensive hobby, photography suddenly became very very affordable. There were also a wide range of cameras to choose from, higher the megapixels, higher the price. But still, photography became affordable to the general public.

Video Cameras

The evolution of video cameras was more interesting. In the late 80's we had those large VCR cameras, used by wedding photographers, recording on those huge, book sized video cassettes. The quality was just OK, but that was the best we had. While this was going on, Sony made the Beta Camcorder, or Betacam, in 1982 and later, in 1993, Digital Betacam. These were professional cameras used only by the television industry, giving high resolution images for good broadcast quality. Then in rapid succession, Sony also introduced Digital8/Hi8, cameras, and then DV (Digital Video) and MiniDV cameras. The most important thing was they were handycams - cameras that you could hold in your hands to record videos. They also got cheaper as the demand increased.

The technology inside the camera too kept developing. From a single CCDs, we got 3 CCD cameras. These Charged Coupled Devices were responsible to give the the best possible colour quality. Many other manufacturers too started making these cameras. My first 3CCD camera was a Panasonic and it gave amazing quality of skin colour and cost me Rs.64000/-. After using it for a couple of years, I actually lost it in a local train.

By then, the High Definition cameras had arrived. I now have a HD camera made by Canon. This tiny camera can record full HD video for one hour and gives me crystal clear images even on a large screen. But more about resolution and picture quality in another post.

If you have read my previous post, you will realise that computers and cameras, but evolved hand-in-hand. From 1980's to present, computers have evolved from 286 Mhz to more than 3 GHz processing speeds, and cameras from a VCR recorder to HD (handy) cams. More importantly, both now fit into the palm of your hand, and most of the times, they are built together, and they are affordable and can be easily used by anyone.

More in the next post.... click

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 1

I call myself a successful digital immigrant. Marc Prensky defined Digital Natives as the ones who have been born with digital technology, digital devices, for whom the digital devices is not a new phenomenon, today's young population. Digital Immigrants are those who saw digital technology developing and evolving and adapted to the digital world - people like me!

I have been very lucky to have been not only a witness, but a participant in the evolution of the digital age. In this series, I am going to share the story(s) of how several technologies evolved over the last 35 years in India and across the world, slowly but surely turning us, passive consumers of media content, into active producers. How technology - both hardware and software, and skill-sets developed over the years, especially in India, and how it has affected the way we communicate, and hence the way we live and go about our lives.

My students (at least the one's who have attended my New Media lectures) might find it repetitive, and some content will indeed be repeated from my earlier posts. Also, the posts in this series may appear to have loose ends, which I will tie up in the last post of the series. So here goes....

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 1


I first touched a computer when I was 28 years old. I was extremely scared, thinking I might break something, or something might just explode! Please bear with me, but I had seen a computer only in science fiction and James Bond films. It was a 286 MHz machine. I am unaware of its configuration, but I used it as a word processor with only 'Wordstar' as the software.

I bought my first computer in 1992 for Rs.35000/-. Many will be surprised by the configuration. It had a 386(40386)  processor, meaning it had a processing power of 386 MHz, much lesser than many mobile phones available today (My cell phone has a processor of 1.8 GHz!). The computer had a whopping 120MB (Yes, no typo here. Its MB and not GB) and 4 MB of RAM! It was the best PC in the neighbourhood. If you have seen the film 'Matrix', the screen was identical - black, with green characters. There was no mouse. To start Windows, I had to boot up the computer, and type 'Win' at eh C:\> prompt.

In 1995, I upgraded by PC to a 486 with 16 MB RAM and a 1.2 GB Hard disk, and a white screen instead of a green one. I thought it could not get better than that. How wrong I was! Within months of upgrading my PC, there came a 586 Mhz machine. I went ahead and took a crash course in assembling computers and started upgrading my own PCs. I remember making my first video using a PC with a 533 MHz processor and 512 MB RAM.

The rest is history, folks. Computers kept getting faster and cheaper. Almost everyone I know has a computer now. The speeds at which these computers work are mind boggling. My mobile now has a processor about 3 times faster than my first PC. I am not going into any more technical details. They are just too many.

But what is the significance of this? Today, instead of only a few people, anyone can do word processing. Anyone can print a document at home, write a book and also do the layout, send an email or a fax, watch a movie or even make a movie at home. What was once the privilege of very few with very deep pockets, is within the reach of the common man.

But more about that in the next post.

An end note: I am proud of the fact that my father was one the first people in this country to use a computer. He managed the EDP (Electronic Data Processing) centre in LIC, where he used to work, waaay back in 1969! The one that he used was HUGE, with data tapes and data cards, cards with holes in them to detect data from the tapes. Here's a pic of one:

#mediastudies #MediaEconomics #DigitalMedia

Monday, June 15, 2015

Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein - Part 3

The Internet was launched in India in 1995. Interestingly, India's mobile services were also launched in the same year. When I got my first mobile phone in 1997, it was a heavy walkie-talkie like machine, which, had to be held in the hand, for the fear of tearing away my pocket.!

The outgoing call rate, when I got my mobile was about Rs.12 outgoing and Rs.6 incoming! We had a second-to-second billing plan too. It used to be very funny, with people making as short a call as possible to avoid hefty phone bills. I remember, I had a client who would ask me if I was calling from my mobile, and if I answered yes, would immediately cut the line and call be back from his landline. It was convenient to own a mobile, and it was also a status symbol, but it was damned expensive.

In 2003, Reliance launched its CDMA technology based mobile services, after laying out 80000 kms. of fibre cables across the length and breadth of the country. Everywhere you went, you could see the Reliance workers digging by the roadside and laying the blue coloured cables.

Why was this a game changer? Because at that time, the outgoing rates for all mobile services were in the range of Rs. 4 - 6 per minute and incoming calls were still charged. Overnight, Reliance changed the game, turned the market upside-down by charging 40 paise for Reliance-to-Reliance calls and FREE incoming. The other operators were forced to come to an agreement to make the incoming calls free.

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One fine morning, we all woke up to the 'Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein' campaign for the launch of Reliance Infocomm. "Ek soch thi, ek sapna tha bole har koi, badhe har koi" campaign was launched with a scheme with mobile phones at Rs.500/-. Overnight the elitist mobile phone reached the hands of the common man. All credit goes to Reliance for placing the mobile phone into the hands of your local bhajiwala (vegetable vendor) and the local chaiwala.

The rest, my friends, is history. When mobile services were launched in 1995, for five years, the mobile subscriber base barely reached 5 million. Today, India boasts of the largest mobile subscriber base, and we have not even covered half the population yet! Reliance not only brought about a communication revolution, but paved way for faster growth of mobile telephony across India, and in turn, for the status of media as of now. I wrote about Gulshan Kumar and Moser Baer in the previous two posts. There are several other game changers, people and organizations which made media what it is today.

Mukesh Ambani, while addressing the stock holders meeting 2 days back announced the the Reliance Jio 4G services will be launched in December. The other mobile operators are shrugging it off, making several comments in the media about how the technology used by Reliance is not tested, and how they were ready to face the challenge. However, I am sure everyone is gearing up towards this event, because, Reliance is the only operator which has won the license to provide 4G across India (Someone please correct me if I am wrong). Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, who owns Reliance Communication, with 3G services, have already signed an agreement, under which, Reliance Communication will lease out its towers to Reliance Jio.

So get ready for Reliance Jio folks, the next game changer is about to be launched.

Here's are links to the famous, and game changing Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein Campaigns

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein - Part 2

When I bought my first CD Writer, it cost me a whopping Rs.16000. Again, when I bought my first DVD Writer, it cost me Rs.8000/-. The cost of blank CDs used to be about Rs.125/- when CD Writers came into the hardware market. The blank DVDs used to cost about Rs.50/- for the 4.3 GB capacity.

What is a CD or a DVD? A piece of plastic? Today they are cheap, and if you buy in bulk, you may get CDs/DVDs for as low as Rs.5. Then why do the audio and video DVDs and VCDs cost more than a 100 bucks? Since I was in the business of content creation, I do know that it is not the blank CDs or DVDs, but the content that goes into them. I also understand the distress of original content developers when they see their content getting pirated. But more about piracy and media economics in another post on another day.

In March 2007, when the MRP of movie CDs and DVDs were above Rs.100 at least, Moser Baer launched 101 film titles. The cost of VCDs was Rs.28, and that of DVDs was Rs.34! This was quite revolutionary. Though most titles in the collection were of older films, there were many which I had heard or read of, but never had a chance to see. I remember, I got a good scolding from my wife, when one day, I picked up 20 DVDs to watch. Frankly, I have still not watched 3 of them yet!

But this move was revolutionary. The market penetration was well planned, with about 100000 outlets. A very important thing happened. Instead of trying to watch movies online on slow network connections, people started to buy movies. The revenues started flowing back into the movie industry through Moser Baer. The Moser Baer DVDs cheaper even now. But what is significant is that people understood that the cost of DVDs is actually so low, and they were paying a premium for even lousy movies. Just look at the mathematics - you have to pay about 60 to 100 bucks even to get a movie on rent. Instead, why now own a DVD?

Well, just a short story today, but Moser Baer's move into the entertainment market through DVDs was certainly a game changer. Enjoy your remaining weekend.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein - Part 1

I was working for a pharmaceutical company and posted as Manager in Ahmedabad for two years - 1989 to 1991. Those days were quite turbulent, one, on my professional front, because I was trying to make inroads into a very tough pharmaceutical market, and second on the political front. Those days were of unrest, and riots during the time of Lalkrishna Advani's Ram Rath Yatra. I saw the horrors of mindless killing, and mob fury first-hand. During Diwali, rarely now, but I still wake up from deep sleep in the middle of the night thinking there is police firing going on somewhere.

This was also a period of turmoil in the music industry. In July 1990, the film Aashiqui was released and became a super duper hit. But the credit for its success goes to its music, which was released in 1989 by Gulshan Kumar. This is a story in itself.

Coming from a humble background, Gulshan Kumar began his career in the music industry by producing cheap cassettes of music of older hit films. With no clearly defined Intellectual Property Rights, Gulshan Kumar rose quickly and made millions. In 1990, film music was very expensive to buy. If I remember right, an original music cassette used to cost anywhere between Rs.75 to Rs.150 and was not affordable to many. So the pirated music cassettes industry flourished. We used to get a C60 or a C90 cassettes of pre-recorded songs, for about Rs.100, and could get a customized cassettes with a choice of our songs for about Rs.150.

This was the time when Gulshan Kumar's T-Series exploded on the scene. He sold the cassettes of Aashiqui to consumers at Rs.28! You went anywhere, you could hear Aashiqui songs played, just like the Qurbani music earlier in 1980. Remember, there was no Internet from where you could download music, and computers were not common at all. An original cassette at Rs.28 turned the music industry upside-down, disrupted the existing market. But it did bring music to the common man at a much much cheaper price.

This is one of the game changers in the music industry, and hence the media world too. It is an important lesson in Media Economics. You never know when the river of revenue will change its path, creating a new course to flow, flooding everything existing.

I can't end this blog post without Aashiqui, which gave us affordable music. Here's a link to the song on YouTube.

Meri umar ke naujavanon, relive your past. Enjoy.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Colour of Love - Part 2

What is the colour of love? Red? So when you give a red rose to someone, it communicates your love, right? It's yellow for friendship, and black for hate! Well, here's some food for thought.

The festival of Vasant Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day of the Indian month of Magh - or the spring season. Vasant Panchami is celebrated as Goddess Saraswati's birthday. Her statues are dressed in yellow and worshipped. The yellow colour has importance as it is the predominant colour of blooms in nature, especially of the mustard flowers.

("Mustard Fields" by Nitin Das - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Vasant Panchami is also associated with Shingar Rasa, and Kamadev, the God of love and desire, along with his wife, Rati, and friend Vasant . A story from the Puranas says that Lord Shiva burnt Kamadev to ashes for disturbing his penace. Devotees apply sandalwood paste to ease the pain from the stinging burns. Since it is related to Kamadev, yellow colour is considered the colour of love.

So, apart from celebrating Valentine's day, will you also celebrate Vasant Panchami, and give a yellow rose to the one you love?

Media Economics with Mallika Sherawat

No. I haven't gone crazy. Before you form your first impressions on 'seeing' those words, wait. Do read on before you make any assumptions.

Let me continue with what I wrote before. The first glance - pehli nazar is so important, because you tend to immediately form an opinion about someone, or some thing. This has also been researched in the context of websites. A study by Lindgaard in 2006 showed that a visitor could take less than 500 milliseconds to decide whether to stay on a website or simply move on. The more aesthetically pleasing your website is, better the stickiness (tendency of the viewer to remain glued to the website) of the website.

So isn't it natural that the sexy, and beautiful Mallika Sherawat's website would not only attract viewers, but also keep them on the website for a longer time? What's that got to do with Media Economics? A LOT, my freinds, a lot.

(Picture source:

Do visit her website. Here's the link:

On the home page, you have a photograph, and the caption clearly says that the website is hosted in association with Enter the website and you see a video on the left, a sexy picture of the beautiful actress standing on the right, and links to several sections/pages of the website. That's Visual Communication!

But Whoa! What's there on the top? Google Ads - Barbie dolls!!!. And then beside Mallika's standing picture? Advertisement by Amul! Utterly Butterly Delicious? Mallika? And at the bottom of the page? Another Google ad - this one of - hold your breath - Zee Institute of Media. Now that's very, very intelligent.

Agreed, that they are all Google Ads, but then, people who handle these brands/products might be specifying the sites on which their ad should appear? And even if they don't directly specify, look at the revenue flows. The advertisers are charged by several methods including pay-per-click method. Now that's Media Planning and Buying (credit goes to my friend and colleague Mr. Kamal Bhagtani for this - he does not exist - he is not on Facebook!). Look where the advertising revenue is going. Now that's Media Economics.

Need I really say more? This is how you learn Media Economics, apart from the books. See the practical application of the concepts you learn about marketing, product placement, advertising, and promotions. This is how you learn the practical application of Visual Communication and how can it be used to attract the target audience.

This is the list of companies/products/brands that have advertised on Mallika Sherawat's website:

Barbie - Barbie in Princess Power
Zee Institute of Media
Acme Oasis - Construction Company
Microsoft Azure
Official Dubai Ad for vacations- Plan you Dubai vacation today
Coke Studio@MTV
Go Daddy - Dainik Bhaskar
Amul Butter
Fashion and You - Exclusive Shopping for Women
Ask Me Bazaar
Hiba Party Suits
Saarthi Group
Sobha Developers
Facebook Page on the film Politics of Love
Marriot Hotel
Godrej Properties
Bharti Axa Life Insurance
Sheltrex Group
The First Group Dubai
Khemani Group
Portea Medical
Runwal MyCity
Wadhwa Group

Talk about Media Economics now!

Lastly, you have to give credit to Mallika Sherawat. Not only has she made optimum use of her website, right from associating with, but she also sells space on her website. She, or her consultant does space selling - media selling very intelligently. An actress who 'literally exploded on the Indian screen', has successfully made inroads in Hollywood, and whose famous quotes include

"I am single. Waiting for a man who has more balls than me."

or has this to say about the media,

"Whew! Did I say too much? Will I offend these linguistically challenged gossip columnists posing as Journalists whose writing is pathetic than my acting."

she certainly knows how to use the media and make money. Whew, I wish I was sexy too!!! Could have made some money through my website.

Mallika, are you listening?