offers rich fare in a range of areas from politics to music. It publishes detailed field reports from across the country. It carries extensive extracts from books, covers sports, focusses on health and is particularly strong in cinema. It seems as if there is nothing lacking in the spread and depth of its coverage.

There is: in economics and business.

Even as all publications – print and online – are ramping up their writing in this area, seems to be falling behind. All the important issues and news are not always covered and when they are, the quality and depth varies. Sometimes tries to supplement its coverage by material drawn from syndicated services like IndiaSpend and India Climate Dialogue; but the quality therein too varies.

I tried to look at how looked at the most important events/issues in economics and business of the past fortnight.

The Tata affair

The biggest news has undoubtedly been the turmoil at the Tatas. News of the event was immediately reported and over the next fortnight, a number of reports and stories were competently put together as staff write-ups, based on news agency reports and what had appeared elsewhere. But have we got anything else? Staff writers and contributors have written five by-lined pieces. A couple have been tangential to the issue such as one that asks whether Indian industry really is a CEO factory for the world and one on why the warring parties in the Tata affair are seeking the government’s ear. But if we wanted insights into why what happened did happen and what the future holds for the Tatas, did not provide it. Admittedly, the entire media was floored by the news from Bombay House; but many publications were soon able to offer the occasional interesting insight. There was some analysis on which by and large told us the same things that had appeared elsewhere. The most informative piece in this publication was the one piece from Quartz, the sister publication, on Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry and how his family came to acquire an 18% stake in Tata and Sons.

The second major event of the past fortnight has been the tussle over the Goods and Services Tax GST – its structure, rates and administration. GST is a very important topic but also very dense and difficult to deal with. One is hard put to think of any set of articles anywhere which has explained simply and clearly what it means and what it will do for the person on the street. The subject is not easy but publications do keep trying. On I could find only one by-lined article the past fortnight (there were news reports, again based on news agencies) and that too seemed to only summarise the news.

To my mind the third most important piece of news has been the revelation in Business Standard that the government has been using unofficial discussions on WhatsApp to keep down work in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) programme. had one follow-up, a report from a village in Muzaffurpur District of Bihar about how people without MGNREGA work were being forced to migrate. Interesting as the piece was, it seemed to cry out for a greater degree of substantiation with secondary village-level material and information from local and district officials about the slow-down.

Turning to syndicated services to supplement coverage can be tricky. Like this story from India Climate Dialogue that was published last week on cotton growers in Raichur District of Karnataka. This was on organic cotton, an idea to be supported and campaigned for. However, articles like this one will not give campaigns much traction. The heading says it is about farmers switching to organic cotton, the larger part of the article though is a mishmash about the problems with Bt cotton and also of the impact of climate change. And there is an interview with exactly one farmer who has just shifted to organic cotton.

Facing the challenges

It is easy to find gaps in coverage but one must simultaneously acknowledge that a rapidly growing publication will struggle to maintain a uniformity of quality in all areas. The challenge is all the greater when there is a shortage of staff and the current staff have to cover everything in sight. But it looks like the weaknesses in Economics and Business will soon change for the better. Naresh Fernandes, Editor of, tells me that he plans to increase the staff covering this area and also expand the pool of regular contributors. So we should see a change soon.

It is not as if’s writing in this particular area is never up to the mark. A recent excellent contribution caught my eye. The World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” indicators are spoken about ad nauseum by governments, business associations and the media about where India is internationally and where the individual states stand with respect to each other. Nobody has interrogated this index and asked whether it really has any operational meaning and usefulness. In his article, Akshat Khandelwal, an entrepreneur and clearly no ordinary commentator, has given a very good analysis of the irrelevance of this particular indicator and goes on to outline what we should really be concerned about in Indian manufacturing.

There is another reason why this column should not end with criticism. has won two of the Ramnath Goenka Awards in journalism this year. This is one more indication that the publication has been working to offer the best in journalism. Congratulations and not carping are in order.

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