There was no across-the-board opposition to foreign direct investment in the country, but it should be introduced in an intelligent way, as there were apprehensions among the people regarding FDI in particular sectors, according to N. Ram, Director, Kasturi and Sons Ltd, publishers of The Hindu.
Speaking at a seminar here on ‘FDI in India – Issues and Challenges' organised by the Post Graduate Research Department of Commerce and Department of Corporate Secretaryship, The New College, on Wednesday, Mr Ram said nobody had opposed FDI across the board. In areas such as infrastructure, airports and in key or strategic areas, FDI had been welcomed with some regulations. The question, he said, was how to introduce FDI in an intelligent way. The risks involved in particular sectors such as retail, news media and education were due to apprehensions about foreign interventions.
Dwelling on FDI in print and broadcast media, Mr. Ram said a lot more data, clarity and transparency were required in the policy.
The first Press Commission report announced in 1954 clearly opposed foreign direct investment in the print media. In the next year, a government order said foreign newspapers and periodicals dealing with news and current affairs shall not be allowed to bring out their editions in the country, he recalled.
According to a press note issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in 2009, only facsimile editions of foreign newspapers would be permitted with prior approval. This was highly regulated. However, these editions were not tailored to the Indian markets, he said.
News media, according to him, was in crisis around the world. In this digital age, there was a question mark over the future of both print and television media and the situation in the developing nations was strikingly different, he said. Newspaper circulation and readership in both the United States and UK were steadily declining during recession and these newspapers went into serious trouble. The situation is better today, he said.
More and more people have started reading newspapers digitally. Many newspapers have interesting digital papers with multimedia contents and investigative articles. Several journalism schools have also taken up digital journalism very seriously, he added.
Tracing the concept of FDI in the country, M. Rafeeque Ahmed, Chairman, Council for Leather Exports (CLE) and President, Federation of Indian Export Organisations, said FDI in retail was under active consideration of the Government for well over a decade. Political parties took conflicting stands while in office and in opposition, he said.
As consumer demand and their capacity to spend were on the rise, the organised retail sector is dominated by large business groups. Large retail stores offered discount sale periodically not only to help the public but even the small retailer, he said.
U. Mohamed Khalilullah, Chairman, The New College Managing Committee and A. Mohamed Ashraf, Secretary and Correspondent, the New College were among those who spoke on the occasion.