Specials

An overview of business news channels ahead of general elections

Business TV channels miss nuances that emerge out of political debates

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The world’s largest democracy is witnessing one of the most fiercely fought elections in recent times. On the one hand, the incumbent prime minister- a cult figure in the country- is fighting to retain a turf that he won in 2014. On the other, there are a number of challengers from myriad political parties trying to reclaim the ground they lost five years ago.

Who gets the chance to rule India till 2024 will be known on 23 May. Will there be a clear mandate for one party? Or will there be several claimants to the Prime Minister’s post? The structure of the 17th Lok Sabha will have a long-lasting impact on the economic policies, which will shape the future of over 1.3 billion people.

The sixth largest economy of the world - in the opinion of the World Bank - is a bright spot in the global economy.

For this reason, the ongoing political fervour in the country, the U-turns by politicians, everyday shifting of goal-posts and the emerging narratives on the ground cannot remain limited to over-the-surface-coverage of general news channels.

The dance of democracy in the $2.5 trillion economy needs an analysis from the mind of those who track and decode the economy day in and day out.

The business television channels usually miss the nuances that emerge out of political debates, speeches and coalitions during the unfolding dance of democracy. The general habit of these channels has been to treat elections as a two-month affair, without realising how the smallest announcement can have large scale impact on the future of investors in the country.

For example, the impact of Congress party’s promise to give Rs 72,000 per year under the ‘Nyay Scheme’ cannot be explained only in terms of the fiscal deficit numbers. The viewers must be explained the impact that scheme will have on the voting behaviour of people residing in 115 aspirational (poorest) districts of India that constitute 123 Lok Sabha constituencies in the country.

Similarly, the BJP manifesto’s stress on national security, zero tolerance against terrorism and the creation of sustainable job opportunities, keeping competitive populism limited to extending its scheme of Rs 6,000 per year to cover all farmers in the country, too has implications far beyond the simple numbers that will be declared on the counting day.

Realising this gap in the business news genre, Business Television India (BTVI) has made an effort to tap the demand of nuanced analysis of Indian politics that will shape its economy. Much before the elections to the regional assemblies of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, BTVI had started a programme Rajneeti, devoted to the manner in which politics intersects policy. With wider coverage planned, BTVI has shifted gears and unveiled new programmes—Big Story and Newsroom. The response has been encouraging as the channel’s programmes and reach continue to grow.

Interestingly, the rivals seem to have left this untapped field almost unchallenged.

It would be interesting to see how in the coming days, BTVI maintains its lead in this newly discovered genre.  For the viewers, interesting times lay ahead as policy changes impact the Indian economy and the future of every seventh person in this world.

(Siddharth Zarabi is executive editor, BTVI. The views expressed here are his own and Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to them)

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