Network18 took an early bet on India’s global destiny. We were in the womb when India began to liberalise its economy in the early 90s. We were an alert child when foreign capital and brands began to trek in. We were in our teens when Indian companies began to scout for growth beyond local shores. We understood the itinerant ambition of our core audience. We had to create content that was locally relevant, but globally muscled —from Obama to Singh, Geithner to Chidambaram, Hu to Karat, Davos to Delhi, G20 to RBI — all bases had to be covered. Network18 did that by creating a distinctive array of hyphenated, Indian-global media brands: CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz, CNN-IBN… And today, to that unique pantheon, we add the iconic Forbes brand!
Why invest in a magazine when readership is dwindling all over the globe? Because India is in a transformational phase unmatched in human history. Demographic mobility is creating a huge generation of first-time readers, who will simultaneously watch TV and begin to surf the Net. This demographic push is so wide and deep that many will not skip the “touch and feel paper-reading phase” of their advancement into newly literate adults. But the magazines for this “digital and paper” generation will have to morph and evolve. They will have to go beyond the first information reports screaming on television and web sites. Magazine editorial will have to become like second-skin analysis, get closer to the bone, display more shades, investigate deeper, be more sensitive, deal with ambiguities, explain the greys and tell it with new-age chutzpah and design. Magazines will have to become like Forbes India!
We will report objectively, but hold a strong editorial brief. India needs to wed itself to a well-regulated but unapologetically free enterprise economy. Indian entrepreneurs need to be unleashed, with the State playing the role of a tough, unforgiving, but fair and nurturing parent. On its own, the State has a huge role in bolstering social infrastructure and investing massively in education, health and welfare. But the State should leave the “means of production” in private hands; it should not — to use colourful language — “run hotels and airlines”.
Finally, we hope to make Forbes India an evocative example of our core belief in emerging, integrated media. Network18 has been a pioneer in using common content to create audiences and applications on television, print, Internet, mobile and all other emerging media. So get ready to read, see, surf and feel Forbes India!
(This article is excerpted from the latest Forbes India 05 June, 2009 issue which is now available at news stands and book stores. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com)