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Rise and fall of PVN... The rise and fall of the Madras Press Club Hand composing to desk top publishing… Salem steel waiting for its sheen Kurien visits Erode... Green Jubilee for agricultural research A culture of R&D... Major storms during the explosive years Takeover tycoons... From the very beginning The years of consolidation, second bomb, and hope When feedstock change worked havoc... The sea change Remembering SV He took public sector to commanding heights... Music, music everywhere… The slippery story of crude The green years Editorially reinforced and redesigned The rise, fall and rise of India Cements When cooperatives pushed out private dairies... Travails and thrills... Power progress The unreal estate Budgets through the years… How Chennai missed the bus? (rail!) Where a co-operative paid bonus; helped eradicate caste bias... MY LOVE FOR AGRICULTURE This foray into economic journalism... When fertilizer production shifted to North and West... The white trigger at Erode Birth of IE When Eicher bites the Bullet... When comes such another! Mrs Gandhi storms back, MGR unshaken in his fortress Hanuman jumps in auto, electronic technologies
 
This foray into economic journalism...
On 15 March 1968, this first economic journal of the south was launched. Snippets from the first five years of IE:

The beginning....

It was not the best of times; it was not the worst of times. A new leader, Indira Gandhi, was struggling to find her feet. Several states across the country, notably Kerala and Tamil Nadu, threw out the Congress. A populist mass leader, C N Annadurai, took reins in Madras and the first democratically-elected Communist government ruled Kerala. The nation suffered two successive years of drought when food production nose-dived. There was resort to massive imports of foodgrains @ 10 MT a year. The economy suffered a massive devaluation of the rupee. Planning over five years was given a holiday for three years. C Subramaniam triggered the green revolution. The public sector was just emerging out of its long gestation.

IE was launched on 15 March 1968. Several stalwarts of the city, business leaders, economists, academics, journalists and advertisers welcomed and lent whole-hearted support.

In the editorial of our first issue we enunciated the objective “to promote more precise understanding of the problems of the southern states and a keener appreciation of the development of recent times in this part of the country… To meet the expectations of different sections of the public generally and the business community in particular, on development economics.”

In the following five decades IE has endeavoured to focus on this mission.

Through the next eleven months we will travel down memory lane. We will reminisce in each issue on the past, in five year spans. In this issue we cover 1968-1972 providing excerpts from the 24 fortnightly issues and special supplements published during this period.

The size was bigger at 28” x 23” and the issues had four editorials covering local, state, national and international subjects. We presented special articles on fiscal issues, news letters from the southern states and Delhi, covered performance of corporates and sectors, banking, commodities, new issues, exports... In Business Briefs, the performance of over a dozen companies was reviewed. Illustrated by the famous cartoonists of those times - N Thanu and S Gopulu.     -Editor, IE


Having been raised in the era of a digital economy where one can access data and news with the tap of a finger, revisiting the older issues of the Industrial Economist excited me. It was a breathe of fresh air. While most changes that are visible directly in line with how print journalism has evolved in the past 50 years, the impeccable language, the witty, yet subtle political cartoons, the patiently drawn graphs and the tasteful advertisements opened my eyes to a different era of the written world. 

The years 1968 – 1972 witnessed a plethora of political and industrial changes. The demise of C N Annadurai in 1969, the launch of Ennore power plant in 1971 followed by the depressing power situation in 1972, Cauvery water disputes through the years, lessons from floods in Andhra Pradesh and trends in launch of new industries stand out. These issues stand out because 50 years on, the nation (particularly TN), grapples with similar issues! The parallels are undeniable and we are led to ponder over the root cause for the inability to come up with permanent solutions for recurring issues. Below encompasses a few standout issues from the 5 years.

 

Not a penny less...

When Britain sent shockwaves to the world by choosing to leave the EU in its Brexit vote, Pound Sterling, plummeted in value by 15 per cent. This phenomenon was not the first of its kind; Indian rupee went through its share of fluctuations, when it was massively devalued by14.3 per cent in 1966. Inflation raged and the dollar was more alluring.  The Sterling then played the role of being a ‘pompous reserve currency’ and Britain’s total liabilities in Sterling was a 9.6 billion USD as per the Industrial Economist bite, ‘Rescuing the Sterling.’ The article elaborates on the Czechoslovakian crises and the revaluation of the DM which could imply a greater loss in reserves for Britain. 

 

A new era in Tamil Nadu politics...

In 1969, C N Annadurai, founder of the DMK, passed away, resulting in a bitter battle for the party’s leadership. The IE article echoed the thousands of Tamils’ minds. Majority of the population, whose votes mattered, belonged to the bottom of the pyramid that demanded increase in wages for farmers and industrial workers, subsidised rice and numerous other immediate tangible benefits. These formed the base for the welfare approach of the Dravidian parties. It is interesting that Tamil Nadu is undergoing similar political turmoil, 50 years on. Will there be any other successful parties that emerge from the current situation? Only time will tell. 

On the occasion of the birth centenary of the nation’s greatest son, Mahatma Gandhi, a homage was compiled in 1969. 

 

Will we ever learn a lesson? 

The summer of 1969 brought with it destructive floods to Andhra Pradesh. Authorities unprepared had to face loss of lives that demanded immediate relief and rehabilitation. Natural disasters strike us year on end and with technology advancements, nations are aware well in advance of the impact of the same. Yet, we underestimate nature’s fury. The root cause could lie in faults with basic infrastructure and urban planning; but state facilitated precaution to prevent further damage could go a long way in protecting lives, homes and nature! 

 

New era of power in Tamil Nadu

IE pioneered dedicated supplements with comprehensive industry-specific news and analyses. One can delve into depths of the then state of an industry by merely reading these pages. One such supplement that stood out was the April 1971 supplement on power plants in Tamil Nadu released at the dedication of the Ennore thermal plant with BHEL’s  first set of indigenous boilers and turbines. What makes this particular supplement unique is guest articles by the then chief minister, power minister and the chairman of the TNEB. The chief minister elaborates on how industries in the state are leading with 50 per cent of the power generated utilised by industries. Further, he notes that rural areas have become more industry-conscious with increase in textile, sugar and other small scale industries. 

The DMK, new to power, was in hurry to expand its hold on the labour unions. The battle for capturing the Simpson and General Workers Union that employed over 16,000 paralysed the metro for weeks. Standard Motors, TI Cycles and other large companies also suffered long lock-outs in such a tussle.  IE covered these in detail. 

 

Renaissance of Indian tourism

With the invasion of jets, tourism as an economic activity boomed in the 1970s. A market-oriented strategy that included invitation of travel agents, writers, photographers and TV producers from across the globe to India paved way for improvement of India’s  image abroad. This was also the year  when Air India added to its fleet Boeing 707s to meet increasing air traffic! 

The state  still maintains its lead: for three years in a row Tamil Nadu has been accounting for the largest number of domestic and foreign tourists. 

 

Celebrating 25 years of Madras

A truly special event celebrating 25 years of Madras was put up in  August 1972. Amidst the artfully decorated and lit up Ripon building, rich poetic speeches and announcements were made. These included schemes to nationalise the bus transport system over the next five years and to include participation of workers in state undertakings - the purpose for both were questioned. The lack of presence of private industrialists and the press was a surprise given the usual grandeur and pomp of such events!

The last ditch effort of TVS’ T S Santhanam, who convened a meeting of bus operators and presented their views at a meeting with M Karunanidhi as the chief guest at the SGS Sabhal Hall could not change the DMK leader’s ‘communist at heart’ belief!

“The DMK government exploits to its full advantage what Machiavelli described as the awe of the people in grandiose schemes,” the article claims.

Peppered with cartoons and comic strips by great cartoonists N Thanu and S Gopulu, innovatively tagged advertisements, short news bites called ‘Glimpses’ and elaborate Editor’s Notes, the magazine catered to a wide range of interests.  

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IE, the business magazine from south was launched in 1968 and pioneered business journalism in south. Through the 45 years IE has been focusing on well-presented and well-researched articles. When giants in the industry stumbled to keep pace with the digital revolution, IE stayed affixed embracing technology.
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