Saturday, September 03, 2005

So many magazines.... So little truth.

In the past few months magazines are being born at the rather alarming rate of fifteen hundred a month. As usual, I being overly dramatic, but the number of magazines coming out is mind-boggling, and for some strange reason they are all either freebie magazines - like India Today's Spice (at whose launch a certain editor was seen leering at Neha Dhupia and Koena Mitra) or Mumbai Mirror's Buzz. Strangely enough in Mumbai, I've noticed one thing, all these 'lifestyle magazines' seem to copy each other. The only two decent magazines - Man's World and TimeOut Mumbai - both excellent reading have their ideas rehashed by a bunch of other magazines. Bombay's rockstars - done by TimeOut is now all over the news. So basically, if you read those two magazines you get a decent idea of what is going on. And I have realised one other thing, the two 'national' news-magazines are so Delhi-centric it is not funny. Maybe a reason for that is because one particular national newsmagazine has a bunch of airheads working out of Mumbai. That is not saying that their employees in Delhi are not airheads. In fact, one can even call the magazine 'Airhead Central'.
Back to the point, in the last one year there have been some four auto magazines that have been launched. Once uipon a time there was Autocar India, Business Standard Motoring, Overdrive and the original Auto India where all these magazines spawned from. Now because I have covered the automotive sector for a few years, I know several of the people who work in these magazines and really other than a few guys whom I admire a lot - Hormazd (despite his Fiat fetish), Shahpur (despite the Bikaner episode) and Bijoy (despite my almost killing him in Chiplun). The others, well some I haven't met and many of them are blunderbusses who think they are gods gift to Motoring Journalism - one editor who has now started his own venture is not only corrupt, and this is not moral corruption we are talking about - thinks that he is India's Jeremy Clarkson.
Thankfully, there will never be an Indian Jeremy Clarkson, because the top selling car in India will never have an engine capacity of above 1000cc (which is a bit more than the top selling products in India for the last two decades which has had an engine capacity of 796cc) and the top selling bike will never be more powerful than 150cc. Nope, poor Mister Clarkson used to 0-60mph (0-100k's) times of 5-6 seconds would die in an Alto's 20+ plus seconds to touch 100k's. See, I think the Alto rocks because it hits hundred in under 13 seconds, but then again the VW Golf GTi I had driven in Germany in 2001 hit 100k's in under eight seconds and maxxed out at 250k's. The fastest I have driven in India is, well some showboating here, is also 250k's but that was also in a German car - the Audi A8 on my secret stretch of tarmac in the NCR. Otherwise, in a car that is made in India the fastest I have hit was 220k's in an Accord V6. Well and good, but my little Alto maxes out 120k's. Oh, sorry I have digressed as usual.
Um, I meant to say that there are some eight auto magazines in a country that barely sells a million passenger vehicles every year. By the way, every auto magazine gives the poor little Alto a 3/5 rating or a 5/10 rating, but the car is the best-selling car in the country, makes you wonder, especially since the same magazine gave the Fiat Palio 9/10 ratings month after month after month, but no-one bought any. All the magazines are in in English, again in a country where half the people who buy the cars can't understand the language and there are hardly any speciality tune-up or modification shops. The one modifier everyone knows is Dilip Chabria who claims he worked on an Aston Martin, but doesn't want Aston Martin to know that. Peculiar. Anyway, my point is all these magazines survive on advertising from the Auto companies - so they are a bit more beholden to advertisers than say a Times of India or DNA. For example, in one magazine, a page after the magazine gave The Bajaj Pulsar a 10/10 rating we see a Bajaj Pulsar advert.
I was talking to a major auto-industry company CEO the other day and asked him about the industry and he laughed. He said, the same publication which brings out the in-house magazine for the country's largest auto-manaufacturer also prints an auto magazine, so "Where is the Objectivity?" He also narrated a tale of how his Corporate Communications people are bullied by the auto magazines to give them 'long-term test' cars. These are vehicles that the magazines keep for a year or so and drive them to the ground and the auto-companies pay for. "I think the magazines should buy their own cars, and from now on I'll tell them to bugger off. In fact, I've already begun to cut-down advertising in those magazines, its not worth it." But then again, I have never seen a review that has given a product less than five stars out of ten, even the Ambassador gets five stars. They can never call a spade a spade in these magazines, I mean even the Indica gets good reviews in the magazines. And then there are the awards - in an attempt to keep everybody happy there are awards for 'Most Technologically Advanced Car sold in India', 'Most Improved small Diesel Car', 'Best Car in the big car that looks small segment', 'Best Indian car that compensates for small penis syndrome', etc etc. Heck, they even give themselves prizes. However, I really wonder who would win the 'Most Pompous Indian Auto Editor' prize?
Even if this manfacturer with a Rs 150-200 crore ad-budget chops auto-magazines from the loop, he knows that the magaiznes will still give them publicity and that buyers really don't give a shit about the magazines. So, will all eight of the magazines survive? Unlikely, but for the time being they are still suckling off the teat of three-four manufacturers with Rs 250 crore plus ad-budgets (barely 5-6 crores go to the magazines, India Today and Outlook get more advertising from these guys). But for the time being, there are some good steals to get to see nice pics at the newsstand. Me however, I get all my inetrnational auto gossip from Jalopnik.
Anyway, I don't sere the point of so many magazines because in a few years we won't be able to afford to drive cars anyway. I also kind of liked the way the government increased fuel prices - wait for Mani Aiyar who now I believe is hand in glove with the evil communists to ruin our oil companies - to leave and then increase the price. Even though oil prices might climb by around Rs 2-3 a litre, that still won't be sufficient to cover the Rs 7-8 shortfall that the oil companies are taking. The Indian oil basket today costs $62.50 a barrel, oil basket means all the sources we buy our oil from, some oil we buy is high quality light (or sweet crude) some is heavy crude, some is local crude from Bombay High and so on and so forth, all averaged out we pay Rs 2766 a barrel (at Rs 44.25 to a US Dollar). Now, one US barrel is around 159 litres, which means the price of unrefined crude is Rs 17.40 a litre. But refining is expensive and adds around Rs 10-12 to the price of a litre of petrol and taxes, transportation costs and dealer margins add another Rs 15-20 to the cost, and that is before places like Bombay add local sales taxes and all. So theoretically, we should pay around Rs 45-48 for a litre of fuel. So guys, enjoy the good times, build your underground bunkers to store the fuel. Somehow that Rs 1.25 lakh Mercedes bike doesn't seem like such a bad idea after all.
Back to College, this is really really interesting. It seems that good ol' Anal has resigned because his boss wanted him to change too many admission norms. I know I got into Stephen's on Daddy quota, but I met all the cut-off criteria. The Express Story. The HT Story. I never thought I would say this, but I mean despite Anal being a bit anal about everything is a decent chap and I know he goes batty during admission, but to change admission criteria for a daughter of a Chandni Chowk jeweller? I support the man, and I think the head of the governing council should be removed. (Thanks Shivam)
Plus, I apologize to all the people I have been mean to in this Blog - NOT!
EDIT : I will now add all sorts of weird links to all sorts of weird things.
For example, this is Miss Jism-Wism Bipasha Basu's Blog. But the point is not the Blog, the point is hundreds of horny desi men writing obscene comments.
This is a nice site which has great Cigar Label art from a long-long-long time ago.
Blogging from New Orleans.
Pictures from New Orleans - Set 1 Set 2 Set 3
More Flickr sets, this time Stamp Cartoons or should that be Cartoon Stamps.
This is a nice Flash Film on the rising oil price!

1 comment:

Bonatellis said...

the title of this particular post urged me to make a comment:
just saw in your latest edition that KG is writing on the markets ... guess it wouldn't take too long for the markets to crash now :-)