Industrial economist has had the opportunity to look from the ringside seat at the spectacular transformation of the Indian polity and economy for 50 years. We covered the legislative assembly in Tamil Nadu. We travelled extensively looking at projects in places as far away as Udaipur, Aizwal, Singarauli and oil platforms at Bombay High. For an economic journal, such visits and interactions were incredibly precious and helped expand its knowledge horizons.
We have also been fortunate in looking at projects in several countries including France, Germany, Japan, UK and the USA, on invitations from the respective governments. These inspired us to dream/advocate for such projects for our country.
We were singular in launching an economic journal that was neither industry-owned nor endowed with substantial financial resources. We received rich support from a wide range of advertisers, especially from business houses in Tamil Nadu. We were also the beneficiaries of the social orientation of banks post-nationalisation. We availed of term loans in a continuous stream for expanding our business: acquiring equipment and factory space, constructing building, purchasing vehicles, etc.
Small, yet specialised
For a small, specialised publication with modest reach, we set our mission as the expansion of awareness on economic issues. We actively involved ourselves in consumer protection issues. Decades before CSR, we suggested business houses adopting slums and public-private participation for the upgradation of corporation schools. We sought to bring about productivity improvements in agriculture promoting the Agriculture Consultancy Management Foundation (ACMF). We applauded the performance of southern corporates through the IE Business Excellence Awards. We conducted public lectures and seminars on current and emerging issues with strong advocacy of projects like a gas pipeline for the south, a dedicated rail corridor from Chennai to Bengaluru and underground metro rail systems.
Our participation in the Economic Editors Conferences for 44 continuous years provided the opportunity to interact with policymakers in Delhi and with other economic journalists of the country. We expanded this further by looking closely at the economies of several states, interacting with the concerned chief ministers and traveling extensively to understand India better.
In all these, we have been fortunate in getting the attention and support of renowned public and business leaders like R Venkataraman, C Subramaniam, Verghese Kurien, Dr Manmohan Singh,F C Kohli, V Krishnamurthy, M S Ahluwalia, etc. While the list is extensive we would like to make special mention of the continued support we have been receiving from the business houses of L&T, Murugappas, New India Assurance, Saint Gobain, Shriram Group, Star Health and Tatas. These have been incredibly vital to maintain our independence and for our continued focus on development issues.
While celebrating our silver jubilee, we announced converting our business into a public incorporated company. Vallabh Bhansali of Enam Financial Services followed it up visiting us at Chennai and helping us expand our paid up capital to Rs 10 million. Our board of eminent leaders has imparted considerable strength and credibility to our business as also helped our following ethical principles of economic journalism.
Such small, specialised publications are becoming endangered. The illustrious contemporaries at our birth – Capital, Commerce and Eastern Economist – owned by large industrial
houses, folded up decades ago. Despite the Centre’s policy of allocating a portion of government’s advertising budget for small publications, these do not reach distant Chennai. Strangely, the Tamil Nadu government doesn’t have any such allocation for periodicals.
With news instantly reaching through the mobile phone, Internet and TV, newspapers have lost their relevance for news. Decades ago we decided to focus on research and analyses, which have helped us survive. Possibly, the next phase points to converting the business into a not-profitable trust with support from like-minded leaders. It should be easy to build on our five decades of experience to continue the focus on expanding awareness of economic issues.
I have reminisced further on the evolution of IE (Page 90). We are proud to bring you this special collectors issue with contributions by several renowned experts on macro and micro economic issues. Happy reading!