Why this magazine?

THIS magazine is not the product of a desire to capture a share of the information market. It is the product of a need that we feel within us, of a desire to fill a critical information gap.

In the years ahead, India will have to seize every possible opportunity to grow and develop and at the same time it will have to make a bold effort to hold on to its soil and roots. This task is not going to be easy.

It can easily tear us apart. One effort forcing us to look way beyond our shores to face the global challenge and the other forcing us to look deep into our hinterland. How will we find for ourselves a process of sustainable and equitable development that will reconcile these apparent irreconcilables?

Information will of course be a critical determinant. The world is witnessing a technological revolution, which is increasing conveniences and outreach in every possible way, and powers to tabulate, calculate and analyse, control and govern. There is hardly a village today which is not linked into the globalisation process. Access to the new technologies is today a key source of economic and political power.

Keeping up with this revolution - whether we do this by developing the new technologies ourselves or importing them and adapting them to suit our needs - will require major investments in science, some of it only to keep up with the Joneses. This could easily become a drain on our resources and distort our priorities.

But we may not have many choices. In an increasingly integrated world market economy, ever more forceful in its embrace, it is going to be extremely difficult to isolate ourselves. The foreign wind will blow hard and strong.

We can deal with this storm only if we choose, and choose carefully. Our technological advancement ought to be determined by our own priorities and needs. The industrialised countries will flood us with information and technologies. What we choose will depend on our values and our intelligence. The rampant environmental degradation puts on us another set of responsibilities. India's Gross Nature Product is in deep trouble. Croplands, grasslands, forests, rivers, streams, ponds, tanks and wetlands, mountains and hills, deserts and floodplains are all stressed, polluted and degraded.

We have not yet reached a stage of development that can provide all people with water from a tap. A decline in water quality, like other forms of environmental degradation, can affect the poor very adversely. Ensuring that the Gross National Product grows, without a decline in - in fact with an enhancement of - the Gross Nature Product is important for India. This will require constant learning and mid-course corrections.

Since learning is best done by listening to others, this newsmagazine's uppermost objective will be to bring reports from our farms, fields, forests, factories and laboratories - where the struggle for survival and for progress is at its peak and at its best.

We intend to report all those things that a regular magazine or newspaper will report - finance, economics, Politics, markets, diplomacy, conflicts, development. But we will look at all this with two eyes, the eyes of science and of environment.

Journalism normally focuses on events, the high points of human endeavour and existence. We will try to bring to our reportage also an analysis of the underlying trends and processes - the slow erosion that ultimately produces a vast, barren landscape.

We hope to bring news and analyses of current events not just from India but also from abroad - from our neighbouring countries, from other developing countries and all that from industrialised countries that could be of interest to us. In this way, the magazine will have a global outlook but with a concern born out of Indian reality.

This issue itself reflects all the global and local tensions described above. The struggles to stop dams and the struggles to make them; alienated people burning their own heritage in protest; the struggle to become technologically self-reliant; the effort to control knowledge and resources, including the human genome, the basic block of human life; the refusal of the rich to control their consumption; and the commitment of two men, one to clean and the other to green his environment. The geographical canvas is wide -- from India, Pakistan and Nepal to the United States.

Information is useful only if it leads to action. We hope the information we provide will not just be used by individuals in their daily work but also provide opportunities for networking, by the concerned to get to know each other and build bridges and partnerships. This is an ambitious task and it will succeed only if we get everybody's help. Uptil now, we have been welcomed with open arms - from justice P N Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in India to Lester Brown of the WorldWatch Institute in the US: an immediate subscription in advance from the former and a massive, highly coveted mailing list from the latter.

Our costs are going to be high. Many of our stories are going to lie in the countryside, far away from the metropolitan centres. The task of information collection will be more expensive and difficult. Hence our differentiated subscription rates that are high for institutions and relatively cheaper for schools and individuals. Whether we survive or not will depend on how many institutional subscriptions we can get.

It is therefore our readers who will decide to make or break this magazine, whether the need we feel is indeed widely felt.

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