Sushma Swaraj opens for business

Sushma Swaraj does not cease to surprise you. The first statement she made after taking over as I&B minister was that she wanted TV to be programmed for the family, and vulgarity in programmes should be curbed. She reiterated this at the launch of Zed TV in Mumbai a fortnight later.

Yesterday speaking at the Economic Editors' Conference in New Delhi, she let loose a cannon. She told the scribes that the government was relooking foreign investment in print media - something which has been a sacred cow for every government in power - not to be touched, not to be relooked at since a cabinet decision was taken in 1955 to close the doors on foreign investment in publishing. Even her predecessor Arun Jaitley who is seen as more of a liberal had said the sacred cow will not be touched

"The scenario has changed with the arrival of the Internet," she told the hacks. "That is why we are reconsidering it."

She additionally told the journos that the group of ministers of DTH had almost finished their deliberations and a draft was ready. A decision of opening it up would be taken up in the next 10-15 days. Whether these are just empty promises or not only time will tell. Previous I&B ministers have made similar proclaimations only not to meet their commitments because of the various pulls and pressures.

She added that while a common regulator is needed for the information technology, communications and information and broadcasting ministries, there is no need to merge the three ministries into one. This would mean that she is headed for a clash with the Fali Nariman commmittee recommendation which is believed to have recommended that the three ministries be merged.

Another major development yesterday was the announcement that the entertainment sector (including films) had been notified as an industry, thus making it eligible to get loans from financial institutions.

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