It is difficult to think of business journalism as a 50-year-old vocation in India; before 1991, business journalists largely concerned themselves with covering economic policy (and not in the kind of detail that today’s journalists do), and state-owned companies and banks. There would be the rare article about a private sector firm but this would either be based on a press release or, at the other end of the spectrum, an investigation that showed the subject in poor light.

The prevailing belief (among journalists of the time) was that all business was bad and all businessmen crooked. This wasn’t entirely unjustified, especially given that the government had to sign off if a company wanted to order new stationery (I am overstating the case, but everything was regulated in those days).

Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint

By the mid-2000s, however, readers had begun to tire of such journalism. I’d like to think that this coincided with a liberal (and libertarian) wave around the world and, yes, even in India. Whatever be the reason, smart readers began demanding more from their news media of choice. It helped that a series of corporate frauds in the US in the early 2000s, and the collapse of Wall Street icons in 2008 pointed out the folly of the celebratory kind of business journalism.

I believe the success of Mint can be attributed to this trend.

Still, this column is less about Mint and more about The Economic Times. As someone who has always been a reporter at heart I can’t help but envy a paper that was around to cover the Green Revolution, the beginnings of Maruti, the sagas of the pioneering business families of the country, and the onset of economic reforms. One of our biggest failings as a people is our scant regard for history—a history that, interestingly enough, can explain why contemporary India is the way it is. In the year ahead, I am hoping to read more about this past in The Economic Times.

Write to acuteangle@livemint.com

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