'Fun Republic' recruiting in Mumbai, Ahmedabad

NEW DELHI: The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the banner under which the new coalition government has been formed in Delhi, today announced the adoption of a common minimum programme (CMP) that pledges to take the lead in introducing the Women's Reservation Bill, repeal a controversial anti-terrorist law, POTA, and encourage foreign investment in certain sectors. But, surprisingly, unlike its predecessor, the UPA is silent on media and entertainment.

The nearest that the CMP comes to media, if it can be called that, is a passing mention to information technology where it is stated, "UPA government will set up a National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council to provide a continuing forum for policy dialogue to energise and sustain the growth of manufacturing industry like food processing, textiles, engineering, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, capital goods, leather, and IT hardware."

At the beginning of its tenure, the National Democratic Alliance government, which was voted out of power in the recent general elections in India, had made its mind clear on the media industry in its common minimum agenda by stating that it was not in favour of permitting more than 20 per cent foreign investment in certain sectors of the media, including KU-band direct-to-home television services.

Though there was no mention of opening up the news sector in both the print and the electronic media to foreign investment, the previous government actually went ahead and formulated guidelines in this regard. In that way, the NDA government could be termed as having taken historic decisions by upturning a cabinet decision of 1956 that banned any foreign investment in the news sector of the print medium with the exception of Reader's Digest..

Though the UPA government's silence on media has taken the industry by surprise, by and large, political observers explain this as an indicator of the importance the present government attaches to the media and entertainment sector. However, the flip side of this criticism may be that since there are not very many important policy decisions to be taken in the field of media, the CMP has refrained from making any unnecessary mention of this sector.

Meanwhile, coming back to UPA's common minimum programme, it sticks mainly to the promises made before the elections. For example, on the key issue of disinvestment --- pursued aggressively by the previous government --- the ruling alliance made it clear that profit-making public sector undertakings would not be privatised. It has also resolved, amongst other things, to generate more employment and take steps to ensure growth of the economy by at least 7-8 per cent annually over a decade.

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