News and print media
Almost all industries come across a point where they have to decide between manufacturing inhouse or buying from outside. However, the print and news media doesn’t have that option and yet many news houses made a choice – “Why search for news when you can manufacture them?” and thus, began the Great Indian News Drama, something that we had never imagined a decade ago that the news and print media would touch such lows. Earlier opinions were labelled as opinions, distinguishing them from facts, however, now opinions are sold as fact to the point that it’s impossible to distinguish between real facts and fabricated ones. And what if you own or pay a news media house itself? Well, you can change the entire narrative surrounding you – just look back into the past ten years!
Journalism is a difficult job, collecting news, identifying the facts, verifying them and then reporting them in a manner that would grab people’s attention while also ensuring that a right message is reached to the public.All this happens in real-time and there’s a 24-hour live news cycle running. Besides, broadcasting or printing charges are fixed. Thus, the job of a news channel or newspaper is much difficult than other entertainment channels or magazines. And yet we get newspapers or news channels at penny prices or almost free of cost. How is this even possible? Well, because the audience is no more the client – the advertisers are. We are all an asset for the news houses, machinery installed to earn revenue from advertisers. As long as news channels are run by advertisers and for-profits, well, the news would never be trustworthy, because you don’t know who is paying (read as controlling) the news and the narratives.
A decade ago, we would have never thought social media would be such a big thing. Facebook, a website for fun, became such a huge thing that it’s now one of the largest companies in the world. Online dating was an option of last resort, now the mainstream form for the newest generations. Uploading videos on Youtube was for fun, however, now it’s a recognised profession – Youtuber, in fact, for that matter, Tiktoker as well.
Social media was for connecting, however, now our connections are a source of earning – more the connection, better the advertising price you receive. Modelling was once on a thing that happened on fashion shows and ramps, however, now enthusiasts can conduct photoshoot, upload photos, tag brands and earn money. All corporates are on social media – trying to build their space and connecting with customers, replying to their complaints and displaying how much they care about their consumers.
Everyone is on social media – right from the celebrities to politicians, trying to leave a mark on their target audience. Even the Enforcement Directorate (ED), CBIC, CBDT, Income Tax Department, Customs and all others are on social media – they run campaigns of their own. Surely, a decade ago, nobody would have imagined that the police officers would be replying through funny tweets, trying to build a brand image on the social media – Mumbai Police, Delhi Police, Bangalore Police, etc. the trend is rapidly on the rise, not sure how much it has helped in maintaining law and order.
A post, tweet or a story has become a powerful tool – a source of income as well as subject matter Supreme Court cases. News leaks faster on social media than the news channels. The news channels now present tweets as a piece of news. No doubt, like the news media, social media is full of paid trends and advertisers. While Facebook and Twitter boast of their increasing userbase, it’s not hidden from the public that there are lakhs and crores of ghost profiles on them who run campaigns and trends controlled by companies who provide the same as a service – to politicians, celebrities and corporates. This is a new era of marketing.
It’s amusing, however, not surprising that we have reached a stage where a sect has started demanding to link Aadhar to our social media profile, not something we would have imagined a decade ago. Social media is no more a platform for connecting with friends and family, it’s a business and a platform for advertisements.
Entertainment and technology
A decade ago buying music album was a thing, or downloading them from websites who illegally uploaded them without copyrights. However, now we stream them on various music apps. Watching movies in theatre now has a better option of streaming the same at home, with smart devices like firestick and smart televisions. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and many others have emerged not merely as content streaming apps, but also producing content and publishing them first hand on streaming apps directly, not the theatres. Their subscriptions have become common, thanks to bundled packages by telecom providers. And the pandemic came as a blessing as the online entertainment industry has received a huge boost. News channels can now be bought individually, thanks to the TRAI’s new regulations. However, whether this has resulted in lower costs is still unsure. With the end of 2020, cable television has also come to an end, with a mere lifetime of 25 years.
The times have changed – the preference for entertainment directly from the comfort at home, at choice, on-demand has increased, especially with audio and video devices on the rise. Smartphones, itself was a big thing in 2010. Now, we have smart homes and smartphone ecosystem where mobiles, television, audio devices, video devices, watches, fitness devices, etc. are all linked to each other, along with the software inside the devices, forcing consumers to buy more products from the same company for a hassle-free experience. Cameras are fastly becoming outdated with smartphones embedding higher resolution cameras and with the power of software even competing with digital cameras. There’s an ongoing war between who is a better smartphone assistant, speaks for itself how technology has improved drastically. Meanwhile, Elon Musk is working on breakthrough projects like tourism to Moon and brain-to-machine interface with computer chip installed on brains. Usage of artificial intelligence, machine learning and adaptive technologies is on the rise even tax authorities using the same for identifying tax evaders. This is one segment where the future is unpredictable, however, there’s a surety that what’s trending today, would be outdated by the end of the decade – so buy your products wisely.
Financial Industry and the Economy
The finance industry is no different from other industries and has suffered huge setbacks in the past decade. Fall of old and mighty banks became a common thing – the trust over co-operative banks has decreased substantially. While Government strived to add more and more people to the banking system, demonetisation has been the highlight of the decade which till date has been debatable about its need and impact. Surprisingly INR 2,000 notes were issued after demonetisation and strangely within five years there is a short circulation of the same, it is almost disappearing.
Fall of Laxmivilas Bank, PMC Bank, Yes Bank, NBFCs like IL&FS, DHFL collapsed, public sector banks were merged, etc. it all happened in the past year. Insurance sector experienced a boom with National Stock Exchange recognising the same with the addition of HDFC Life into Nifty 50. On the other hand, UPI would probably be the biggest success story of the decade, with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) already taking every effort to avoid its monopoly and dominance by few. Cheque systems have improved and NEFT and RTGS are now a common thing for businesses, with the same gradually becoming available 24×7.
The economy is closely aligned with the performance of the financial industry. While other sectors are capable of boosting the economy or slowing it down, the financial industry can make overnight changes in the economy with some good or bad moves. India aimed at becoming one of the largest economies in the world, however, with pandemic the already far-fetched dream now seems nearly impossible. The negative GDP has been the biggest highlight of the decade, probably in the past century. On the hand, bitcoin became the representative of the cryptocurrency world and ending the decade with a boom similar to its earlier rising. The cryptocurrencies are a rebellion of the financial system – yes, we have them too, not something we would have imagined, especially with no person to take credits for the development.
The industry that witnessed the biggest shift in dynamics has been the telecom industry. With Reliance entering into telecom market with Jio and quashing all existing competitors with low pricing, we witnessed how a powerful corporate house can overtake an entire market. Thankfully, Airtel competed, Vodafone Idea merged and survived and BSNL, well, it still exists. There’s no other competition and probably there won’t be unless another major corporate house decides to enter the industry. With the rising preference of streaming online or let’s be truthful, with the rising forced addiction of streaming online through cheaper internet data packages and free voice calls, and a bunch of other free subscriptions, we have been lured by one or the other company and gradually, each of them would try to make the most of their consumer-base. In the end, we must be thankful that telecom is at least oligopolistic market, else at one point, it seemed Reliance Jio would emerge as the monopoly. Meanwhile, the saga of two Ambani brothers – the rise of one and the fall of the other, is a story worth telling the future generation.
E-commerce and Education
The rise of e-commerce hasn’t been surprising and with pandemic adding further to its growth trend, the e-commerce industry has sustained its growth of which we had seen a glimpse in 2010. Now, we have everything available online – clothes, medicines, food, electronic appliances, household products, grocery, baby products, footwear, cosmetics etc. Inside the e-commerce industry, there’s another set of sub-industries which depict challenges and growth patterns different from the physical world. Now we have sales online, almost every month of the year, with a different name. Discounts and offers are available all the time with banks and other financial apps contributing through cashback, no-cost EMIs, discounts, etc. At the beginning of the decade, we had physical stores going online, and by the end of the decade, we are now witnessing giant e-commerce platforms heading towards physical stores as expansion. The way we shop has changed over the past 10 years.
Towards the end of 2020, what came as a huge surprise was the rise of educational apps – it almost felt that the pandemic was perfect for their business growth. All they needed for a reason and boom! The educational platforms like BYJUs, Udemy, Unacademy, Vedantu, Toppr, etc. have received an unprecedented response from the new age parents. India is now a leading country when it comes to successful educational startups around the world. However, how effective they are going to be in long run, is still a question mark as traditional education in classrooms shall resume with pandemic subsidising.
We witnessed a government in a completely different mode – service provider! Unlike the previous governments who focussed more infrastructure development, the current government has been acting like a service provider to its citizen and has revived certain aspects instead of developing new. While economists haven’t been much happy with government moves, we have seen some unprecedented moves over the past few years – Demonetisation, Article 370 Amendment, Citizenship Amendment Act, New Farm Laws and of course, the most talked about, Goods and Services Tax. However, none of them has been free of controversies or rather full of protests and endless debates everywhere, which people gradually disremembered once the news media stopped reporting about it – our memories have become so fickle! We finally have a New Education Policy in place. Aadhar cards and linking aadhar to literally everything has been a highlight. Property cards are being talked about and various other moves have been game-changer – well, at least that’s what the media said. The increase in foreign collaboration and the rise in the ongoing tussle with China on the military and economic front kept the news channels busy, with social media adding more fuel to it.
Taxation and Litigations
We have never seen judiciary been so active and in breaking news before – whether it’s Ram mandir, freedom of speech, the Vodafone case, Triple talaq, and many other cases – there were PILs, Writ Petitions, Suo-moto cases picked by courts, Courts running overtime and even Chief Justice of India crying over the plight of judges. The courts have been everywhere – religions, political, crime, sports, entertainment, geographical, historical, constitutional crisis etc. we have seen it all in the past decade and courts have never been in such limelight before. On the other hand, taxation laws saw a major change. Under late Arun Jaitley, the Government tried to minimise and simplify the taxation laws, however, Nirmala Sitharaman had ulterior motives. We now have faceless assessments, however, at the same time, Goods and Services Tax law provides for the suspension of registration without the opportunity of being heard – in short, the Government wants quicker resolutions of things, however, will justice survive alongside is questionable.