Published On: Fri, Feb 3rd, 2017

With one feet in a past and a other in a future, India faces a digital paradox

Unlike a thespian decrease of a media in a west brought about by smartphones and a internet, a conditions in India could not be some-more different. Freddie Dawson records that a new investigate from a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Industry suggests a value of a Indian journal courtesy has in fact grown by two-thirds in a past 6 years, and, according to KPMG, is likely to vacillate absolutely between 12 and 14 percent for a subsequent several years.

The paradoxical expansion of imitation media is a ideal instance of a Indian digital paradox, an extraordinary materialisation where India — a nation of some-more than 1.2 billion people — is building in a clearly opposite demeanour than a west.

A story of dual Indias

Popular enlightenment references to India tend to concentration on a “developing” aspects, mostly trimming over a fact that a nation is a seventh largest economy in a world, a fourth largest IT and tech hub, a second largest race of English speakers after a U.S. and a chief and space power. However, that said, a discerning debate around bustling cities like Mumbai or Delhi will prominence a sheer differences between opposite socioeconomic groups vital usually meters from any other.

On one palm we see a “first India,” that is now competing to spin a world’s biggest Amazon, Facebook, Uber and Apple markets within a subsequent few years. The infancy of people advantageous adequate to live in higher-income demographics are on standard in any approach with their peers in a west: rarely educated, regulating a newest technology, smooth in English and mostly prepared in unfamiliar universities.

On a other palm we see a “second India,” that is still personification catch-up — people who live in a universe prolonged forgotten, with printed newspapers, precarious ride and houses and single-screen projector cinemas, yet whose preparation rates and GDP per capita is improving to a border that shortly hundreds of millions of tech-savvy consumers will be entering a market. With a ability to read, simple preparation and a GDP that has finally surpassed $1,500 comes an appetite for self-improvement and advancement.

But while these dual groups competence be clearly decades apart, advances in record and socioeconomic improvements competence shortly pierce them onto a some-more spin personification margin in a subsequent decade. For now, though, a extraordinary socioeconomic makeup of a nation provides a fruitful belligerent for certain industries to grow in a demeanour not seen anywhere else.

The media

According to Freddie Dawson, expansion in a Indian journal courtesy is essentially driven by a country’s fast expanding center class, and partially low internet invasion opposite a country.

However, while Dawson relates a strength of a courtesy to a expanding “middle class,” it is indeed a “second India” to that he refers. Literacy rates and a inhabitant GDP per capita are rising, yet this organisation is nowhere nearby as prepared or abundant as their western peers who are deliberate “middle class.” It is this group’s spin of amicable and mercantile course some-more than anything that keeps alive India’s 82,000 newspapers with a sum daily dissemination of 110 million.

Literacy rates have increasing in India — now sitting during around 75 percent — and some-more courtesy is being given to government-funded preparation programs for those underneath age 25. As immature people spin literate, one of a initial things they do is start reading in their possess informal languages.

“First India” has taken to digital media in a large way, and consumes their news on apps and digital sites opposite a operation of inclination and platforms. However, “second India” still consumes media in a normal manner, primarily by printed press. Reading newspapers and a clever protecting enlightenment for giveaway press dates behind some-more than 160 years to when India was underneath British colonial rule. India is home to a Times of India, one of a oldest newspapers in a world, and a world’s largest circulated newspaper, yet it is not English-language newspapers that are pulling imitation press growth, yet non-English vernacular papers.

This leaves India in a singular situation, in that TV, digital and journal are all building during a same time, distinct in a rest of a universe where digital has blown all else out of a water.

There are 3 kinds of companies in a Indian media sector:

  • Traditional old-school vernacular publications that support to informal districts. These newspapers are not focusing on digital and are in no rush to change since of their endless readerships and continued high circulation.
  • There are 20-25 incomparable companies widespread opposite nation — a Times of India, a Indian Express and Hindu to name a few — that are led by western-educated, English-speaking directors. These publications have witnessed a same media downturn as a rest of a world, and have their sights set on re-configuring for a imminent change — yet they still have outrageous readerships and essential business models.
  • There is a new propagandize of media startups, with no legacy, yet that are many some-more technologically agile, and aim to emanate a new totally digital media.

Unlike in a west, where a digital blast put even a biggest, best-funded bequest publications on a behind foot, a 3 opposite media groups in India are building side by side, flitting any other like ships in a night.

Each organisation has advantages and disadvantages. New startup players are operative with a newest record out there, they are well-funded, interest to “first India” and are not reason behind by aged mindsets. However, they miss a footprint, and are struggling to grow their audiences.

On a flip side, normal and informal newspapers have large and intent audiences and a solid income from sales and advertising, yet are reason behind from modernizing by bequest record and old-fashioned mindsets. Traditional newspapers acquire many from imitation media advertising, and have a readership used to reading earthy newspapers. While they competence commend a need for change — formed on what has happened to a media in a west — a journal is usually as good as a readers, and, as they say, it is formidable to spin around a supertanker.

However, distinct in a west, where media publications were forced to allege fast and try new things to strech audiences on a operation of inclination and mediums, Indian media companies seem to have a oppulance of time on their side.

The onslaught will substantially continue for a subsequent 5 to 10 years, until new digital players have gained a incomparable audience, and until a expanding “middle class” in India truly adopts smartphones and digital technology. In a same approach as immature people collect adult papers in their possess languages now, as smartphones spin cheaper and some-more accessible, they will collect them adult too.


While “first India” competence be on standard technologically with a rest of a world, “second India” is still lagging behind. However, with GDP per capita rising, and a cost of smartphones descending any year, a winds of change are blowing… usually a lot some-more gently than a whirly that strike a media in a west.

To date, media mutation is being slowed down by a fact that, notwithstanding carrying a top internet expansion rates for a nation of a size, India still has one of a world’s lowest levels of internet saturation. However, with initiatives such as Digital India, Google’s Project Loon, Microsoft’s White Space tech and Facebook’s worker project, internet could shortly be a existence in hundreds of millions of homes in India over a subsequent few years.

Unlike in a western world, where many users accessed a internet around mechanism before record modernized to a theatre of mobile devices, in India we are witnessing a record “leapfrog” in that a infancy of “second India” has skipped laptops and computers and are accessing a internet for a initial time around mobile devices. Recent studies envision there will be 249 million mobile internet users by a finish of 2016, and design expansion during some-more than 50 million people per year until 2020.

India has a world’s third biggest smartphone market, and Indians are approaching to buy roughly 139 million smartphones in 2016; however, a infancy of these will not be iPhone 7s, yet Android inclination costing reduction than $150. The accessibility of increasingly affordable new and used smartphones is opening a doors to potentially hundreds of “second India” digital media consumers over a subsequent decade.

Rather than observation this as a threat, Indian media companies have a oppulance of observation a delayed pierce toward digital as a intensity goldmine for that they have time to prepare.

As “second India” becomes some-more digital, they will fundamentally start to compensate some-more courtesy to digital media, and over time a media downturn will take reason in India as it did in a rest of a world. The disproportion is that India has about 3 to 10 years to ready for this, and can gaunt on certain examples and new monetization models from a U.S. and a west to navigate a duration of change.

A new digital landscape means increasing competition, yet with some-more than one billion intensity consumers, a advantages and gains to publications who make a transition should be value a tough work.

Featured Image: Nuk2013/Shutterstock

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