BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

India rising

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 15:02 UK time, Monday, 5 February 2007

This week on the News website we take a wide-ranging look at the rapid changes taking place in contemporary India, a growing global economic power which is home to roughly one in six of the world’s people. Our series of online features is timed to coincide with a BBC World Service season of radio programmes called ‘India Rising’.

A graphic of the BBC News websiteThe theme is a familiar one to anyone who follows the day-to-day coverage on our South Asia news pages, for example the recent forecast that, although it still has to contend with extensive poverty, huge wealth disparities, skills shortages and poor infrastructure, India could overtake Britain and have the world's fifth largest economy within a decade.

Last week I was in India to launch our mobile photo competition for the region, talk to media students and visit our journalists in the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay) offices. While I was there, as if to illustrate the theme of India’s economic rise, Mumbai-based Tata Steel made its successful multi-billion dollar takeover bid for Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus.

tatasnews203.jpgOne of the things that struck me most was the pace of change in the Indian media. There’s an explosion in the number of TV news and financial channels (now more than 30, according to one report), a booming advertising market and 18 daily newspapers with a circulation of more than five million each. Again while I was there, a new business paper launched a local partnership with the Wall Street Journal.

Where, I was asked by some of the media students I spoke to, does the BBC fit into all this? What can we provide for the Indian audience that their own lively and prolific media can’t or doesn’t?

The reply I gave was that the BBC, with its long tradition of broadcasting to the region, is a familiar and trusted name for many, which counts for a lot in what is still a volatile part of the world. BBC World TV and our online services are building new audiences, especially among the young urban middle classes and, as an international news provider with an extensive reporting network and a broad agenda, we provide a different perspective and reflect back to Indian readers, viewers and listeners how their country is seen by others and where it fits into the wider regional and global picture.

If you are in India or read our South Asia coverage regularly, what do you think? How do international news broadcasters and websites compare with Indian ones? Do those sound like the things that mark us out amongst the stiff competition?


  • 1.
  • At 04:42 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sriharsh wrote:

You guys do a great job over all in allowing the world to understand that India is knocking on its door. As a whole India is indeed a strong force, but one can see it is weakened by the great disparity between rich and poor.

In its reporting on India, the BBC sometimes tackles a specific issue and interviews Indians on their perspectives, but I see that mostly these perspectives are from educated middle class people, and it paints a rosy picture.

In another article for another issue, BBC interviews mostly the poor and underpriveleged and deprecates the society.

I would like to see a whole picture for every issue and every article, where all kinds of people who are affected by the issue are interviewed.

  • 2.
  • At 04:47 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Chetana wrote:

I am an Indian who has lived in London for some years. I have enjoyed the very high quality of thought provoking documentries and history-based programs on the BBC TV immensly. That is one thing I miss a lot on Indian television in spite of the recent surge in channels in India. I am sure the Indian audience is hungry for serious programs and that would be a great void BBC could help fill with its experience and expertise in the field, perhaps in partnership with the Doordarshan channels in India.

  • 3.
  • At 05:05 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • naveen wrote:

I am living in Ireland for 15 months. I visit bbc website and watch news (TV)regularly(3 to 4 times per day). I am very much impressed with the BBC. I felt that bbc services are very reliable and most of the time they are unbiased. One thing that i like very much is their basic ethical values. I feel bbc has a very big role to play in India. Even though there are many news channels/papers in India most of them are relatively younger, for them bbc services can be a benchmark.

  • 4.
  • At 05:09 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Amit Lathia wrote:

I am a regular visitor to BBC News website for last 5 years. I am impressed by its integrity in reporting. It also helps that since I am residing in North America and there is little coverage of South Asia in this region.

Sometimes, I do subscribe to Newspapers such as India Abroad and Gujarat Samachar. Coverage they provide is good that it includes news about South Asian Community in North America too. However, some of news from India is in too much detail, that I don't have time to go into.

Michigan, USA

I think BBC is very important in India and I hope it is not planning to downsize its operations. Rather I hope the opposite is happening. The India urban media might be rising, but if you actually look at voices
it is representing, it is rather skewed and indulges more in 'feel good' stories rather than serious news.
The Urban Indian media, of which I belong to has created a private closed chamber, and only its narrow voices are echoed. Thus in times like these it is integral to have the BBC, an independent news service, playing a bigger role in the scheme of things in India.
Carry on the great work

  • 6.
  • At 05:34 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Dr.Harish wrote:

What BBC provides and others dont, is the western perspective of things in India. With so much Indian media around an average Indian, at times we do feel that we get innundated with self flagellation or rhetoric and then, logging on to BBC provides us the view from outside. However, I believe that BBC as a corporation should do more by making deeper inroads into India/South Asia, which is already a huge market for it. It should setup news channels for South Asia exclusively, or even in local languages, either alone or in partnership with a local group, where needed by law ( as in the case of India) and go the way that CNN seems to be going, if it wants to remain relavent to this region in the long term. With all its experience, BBC has a lot to offer in terms of investigative journalism and indepth analysis to the Indian public, which inspite of the huge quantity of local media, is in short supply.

  • 7.
  • At 06:03 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Vijayakumar Arumugam wrote:


Though you’re perfectly right about the mushrooming of the electronic and print media in India, not all of them could match the time-tested authenticity of the BBC by any stretch of the imagination. Most of us still wait for the confirmation of any breaking news from the BBC before accepting its validity. On the other side, as an Indian, I’m a bit surprised to see many Indians donning the role of journalists for this website. Though we’re living on the 21st century flat world, I would still like to see more British journalists covering the reports from India even if they’ve to work from there.

  • 8.
  • At 06:51 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Abhilasha Sharma wrote:

I just read your editorial about the role of BBC in India...

I am an Indian living in US and personally, I find BBC to be the most reliable source of news about the country. Its just a non-biased report of what is happening back home.

My parents, who are in India, use BBC to find out about happenings in US.

  • 9.
  • At 06:53 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Robert Singh wrote:

I grew up in the US in the 70s, a child with mixed Irish and Italian heritage. Though it was hard to get BBC on AM band, I used to listen to my Dad's world radio and was a faithful listener of the BBC for years (and still am, though I now tend to watch BBC America).

You will probably wonder as to why is an American participating in this discussion. Well, the BBC opened my eyes to a rich and vibrant country, a giant democracy at a very young age. Not only did I develop an avid interest in India, but also converted to Sikhism, so deep was my awe of India, a country that is usually ignored or dismissed in US media, even now. For the past decade, hardly a year has gone by without my visiting India at least once, often twice.

However, over the years, I have noticed a shift in the tone of BBC's coverage of India. Maybe it has something to do with Mark Tully's exit, maybe it is a part of a bigger change at the BBC. The BBC, perhaps in an initially well-intentioned attempt to create a balance in its coverage of India vs any of its neighbors, has become, perhaps unwittingly, a naysayer on India. In everything that the BBC reports on India, and most of these stories are indubitably positive these days, there is a caveat, some half-hearted attempt to put India down. I do not see any such wierd reporting by BBC on any other country that I have an interest in.

I have travelled extensively in India, often hiking across some of the poorest parts of the country, so I am no stranger to some of the worst troubles that still mire India. However, the BBC should realize that its first duty is to truth, not some artificially created balance in its coverage vis a vis China or Pakistan (perhaps the worst case of BBC emphasizing balance over accuracy).

I have no idea what redeeming values does the BBC see its coverage of Pakistan, which is a failed state by almost all measures. Maybe it is due to the large, vocal and periodically violent Pakistani community in Britain, maybe it is some part of an unwritten orthodoxy of the European media that in a dispute between a Muslim and a non-Muslim state, thou shalt not speak ill of the Muslim state, even when richly deserved. I do not know. I just see a slant, and it makes me question things.

For instance, when the BBC reports on the Kashmir issue, or shows maps of northern Indian, it takes pains to somehow separate off Indian Kashmir from India (that it does the same for Pakistan has no relevance to this discussion). I have read extensively about Indian history, both from Indian and Western sources, and it is immediately apparent, that the will of the ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Kashmir was to join India (which according to the laws in force at the time - was the legal choice of Kashmir). Pakistan invaded and annexed a part of Kashmir that has seen genocide (in what it calls Northern Territories) massive influx of non-Kashmiris and demographic conquest. The Indians have, by contrast, studiously avoided any such thing, though population pressures in India are far greater.

There have been 11 elections in Indian Kashmir, while there have been no real ones in Pakistani Kashmir. To create a moral or factual equivalency over Indian and Pakistani claims to Kashmir is to fly in face of all journalistic ethics.

Further, this attitude does not confine itself to the reporting of the region - it does spill over in the domestic reporting. Whenever there are racial troubles in the UK, like Leeds a few years ago (I was in London at the time), there is a facile attempt to label it as troubles between "White nationalists" and "Asian youths". By any measure, the Asian community in the UK is fractured along multiple lines, but it is an open secret that the only Asian participants in these riots are Muslims, especially those from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Why the attempt to hide them behind the an imaginary monolith known as "Asian" and why the libel against millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, etc. of Indian origin, who have absolutely nothing to do with these periodical bouts of blood letting.

If I were to follow the BBC's modus operandi in reporting on Britain, I would probably pen a report describing the UK as a former colonial power and resurgent economy that is riven at home with racial and religious divides between majority whites and Muslims of mostly Asian origin. I would go further and describe the UK as a country with only partial press freedoms, where it is required to slander the peaceful non-Muslim Asians in order to maintain some patina of apparent religious harmony.

But then, I am not a BBC reporter, just a long suffering BBC listener for close to 30 years.

It is perhaps a vain hope but I do wish with that BBC will return to its roots and put truth before artificial even-handedness when reporting on that region.

  • 10.
  • At 06:58 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Abhishek Tripathi wrote:

Indian media sometimes appear to be over eager (even jingoistic at times) in portraying our successes. Even insignificant things are regularly overhyped, there is an overall lack of maturity.
BBC on the other hand comes across as a very mature and unbiased source of news. One whose integrity cannot be doubted. BBC is perhaps the most widely accessed source for international news and is therefore able to provide feedback from readers all over the world on issue which may be local to India. I dont think there is any other media house which has such extensive international coverage, not even close!
Also, the most irritating thing about the indian news websites is the absolutely poor quality of their websites. Unwanted, inane pop-ups and flashing commercials are a big turn off.

  • 11.
  • At 07:05 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sarat wrote:

I'm an Indian student (PhD) in the United States and regularly read BBC News. I found BBC news to be relevant, unbiased and insightful while I was in India and even more so after I came to the US.

Please keep up the good work. BBC is one of the few organizations which still maintains good journalistic standards.

  • 12.
  • At 07:05 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Vivek Khanna wrote:

Steve, a large number of Indians do not trust the BBC. That may come as a surprise to you. When we read BBC news, we always find that the negatives about India are highlighted and the positives mentioned in the fine print. Like the other day when BBC conducted a poll, to an Indian there were some big news like - 70% of citizens are proud to be Indian, economic progress. The BBC headline however, selected the poll numbers about the caste system that people think may hold India back.

Now, did racism in the US/ Britain (West in general) hold the west back? Then why highligh that and not the positives?

Indians believe that BBC's South Asia desk is controlled by people inimical to India and her progress.

Does the BBC ever report the true facts about say Kashmir? Like the fact that Lord Mountbatten authorized the use of force against Pakistani forces in 1947 to protect a territory that had aceded to India 'by his rules'? OR that subsequent UN resolutions required that the entire territory would be ceded to India by 1950 and India would then hold a plebscite in Kashmir? Or that Lord Mountabatten is on record as saying that he had total authority from the Government of India to solve the Kashmir issue and it was Pakistan that was complicating matters?

The West has used Pakistan all these years and one day a 'free Pakistan' will rise and shake of this yoke of slavery and sycophancy and hold the West accountable. By aiding in the spread of misinformation, the BBC does a grave injustice to Indians and to the poor Pakistanis who have never been given the chance to shape their destiny.

To have a presence in India, BBC News would have to present the truth about India and Pakistan.

  • 13.
  • At 07:08 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sarat wrote:

I'm an Indian student (PhD) in the United States and regularly read BBC News. I found BBC news to be relevant and insightful while I was in India and even more so after I came to the US.

Please keep up the good work. BBC is one of the few organizations which still maintains good journalistic standards.

  • 14.
  • At 07:17 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • umar tosheeb wrote:

When it comes to domestic news in India i think BBC doesn't have much potential, but it has huge potential for people who are intersted in international news.In international news the BBC coverage is wide variety and worth watching.In international news BBC certainly has huge potential in india, because with INDIA RISING more and more people are going to be intersted in what's going in the world, and BBC does a very good job of showing that.

  • 15.
  • At 07:31 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sonali wrote:

I think BBC is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to keep up with whats going on around the world. I live in the US now, but was brought up in India and BBC has always been around. Its still the first website that I go to when I get on the internet. Yes, even before my email!I like BBC's South Asia site because it lets me keep up with whats going on in India and the rest of S. Asia without having to read in detail about the latest exploits of Bollywood stars or the cricketers or something just as superfluous. Keep up the good work!

  • 16.
  • At 07:40 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Siddhart Syam wrote:

The first thing the BBC should do when discussing the relative size of India's economy (or that of any other developing nation for that matter) is to present it in alternative versions. Valuation at contemporary currency exchange rates tends to overstate the size of the economies of developed nations with 'stronger' currencies. That is why the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and other international organizations value developing economies using purchasing power parity (PPP) which, as the name suggests, provides a much more realistic indicator of the relative purchasing power (and therefore market size)of a developing nation (which tends to have a low relative cost of living). By this measure (PPP), India's economy is valued at about $4 trillion and already far larger than Britain's. British corporations should understand this as they strategize about their future involvement in India. Otherwise, they risk being left behind as U.S, Japanese and European companies begin to actively invest in India. The BBC needs to make this point clear.

  • 17.
  • At 07:41 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sunil Kumar wrote:


BBC World Service has a special place in Indian media landscape. I, personally, don’t think BBC as foreign media outlet anymore. It’s as Indian as Indians come. Its in-depth wide coverage and quality are standards setting. Having said that, BBC sometimes shows India in more positive light than it is in. Sometimes, it focuses too much on issues which are no more the burning issues, for example the Indian Caste system.

Having listened and watched the BBC for 25 years, I can say with some confidence that the BBC World Service is better than any other media outlet, Indian or International. Keep up the good work.


  • 18.
  • At 07:46 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Priya Ravichandran wrote:

What BBC can bring to an Indian audience is not just a global perspective but also an unbiased view of their own country. I am an Indian living in the US and I look to the BBC to give me news that matters from India. BBC stands apart because it is news without nonsense. We are in spite and because of the deluge of new channels given hype, fluff and entertainment for news. BBC gives news without cutting corners. That is what the Indian audience will receive from your channel and that is what we will be grateful for.

  • 19.
  • At 07:47 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Dinesh wrote:

I am Indian immigrant to the US, and have been here for nearly 25 years. I have always trusted the BBC to provide a fair and Balanced coverage, which the main stream media in the US is unable to deliver. Before the internet, I used to listen to BBC news on a short wave radio, which I purchased at a duty free store in Singapore, as SW radios were and are still not easily available in the US. I thnk it will be very hard for any company to come up to the standards of THE BBC.

  • 20.
  • At 07:48 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Ashima Gupta wrote:

Yes, I agree with you that BBC and international news channels provide different perspective and large coverage. Another important fact is that BBC can be trusted not be influenced by any particular political party or have any sly religious affiliations and therefore, it can be trusted to provide unbiased and true coverage.

  • 21.
  • At 07:51 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Vikram wrote:

I recently watched 2 BBC documentaries regarding India (Being Indian and another one about water coservation in Gujarat). I think that the BBC is a very professional, disciplined and most importantly objective news network. Certainly not only can many new Indian channels learn from the BBC, the BBC itself can become a major player in news broadcasting within India.

  • 22.
  • At 08:03 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Rajesh V wrote:

In the era of Fox News and company, most people have come to believe that there is no such thing as "reporting", leave alone fair and balanced.

Given that backrgound, the BBC tries to do a fair job of its coverage of India, but often I see preconceived western (particularly british colonial) ideas of India surface in the reporting. Even in this blog, you mention "volatile region". That might be your idea of where India is, but it is certainly not shared by the majority of your Indian readers.

Also, that's a huge turnoff. Unlike the Indians who were born under and lived under British rule, the current generation of Indians see India as a global power and one that demands your respect.

So, if you want to reach these readers in any meaningful way, don't patronize them, and also shed the colonial sunglasses.

  • 23.
  • At 08:05 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Ashesh Prasann wrote:

Growth in quantity does not always mean quality. The explosion of news channels and print media in India has been phenomenal but even a cursory glance at their coverage exposes the sheer sensationalism involved in news reporting. Too often the media simply reflects the public mood of the audience it targets. What is severely lacking is an independent, unbiased and critical view of things. This is where BBC coverage has excelled for many decades. Having a globally entrenched network, it is able to present a perspective which benefits from a worldview which few broadcasters can boast of. Do keep up the excellent work on your South Asia coverage - all the best!

  • 24.
  • At 08:12 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • R Iyer wrote:

I read the South Asia pages of BBC News regularly and I find the reporting much better than many sites for a variety of reasons. Among them are, less ads on the pages, pop-ups, ethno centric coverage and such. One complaint may be that the pages are not refreshed often enough. Also it would be interesting to see how GB is responding to changes in South Asia both economically and culturally.

  • 25.
  • At 08:19 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Ashish M. Abraham wrote:

I am a frequent reader of and its South Asian coverage. I feel that most of the media groups in India (the Times of India group, for example, operates the Times of India and Economic Times newspapers, as well as the website) do provide news and coverage that is on par with other international news websites, although they do offer more insight and analysis from an Indian perspective.

  • 26.
  • At 09:08 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sreejay S wrote:

Let me start off saying that the homepage on my browser is BBC. I am not exactly what you would call the new young breed of workers who power the BPO boom. I am someone who used to go to sleep with "Newsdesk" on BBC Radio. I cultivated my English pronunciation through it. I am one of the generation who grew up on Radio and alongwith Television.
Today, the tube is the medium of information and fast being overtaken by the internet. Perhaps I will see the day when it becomes the medium of entertainment too. The BBC is important for people like me - middle class, educated people. I remember the night in my last year at College when the news of Rajiv Gandhi's death broke - on the BBC.
Today, BBC among the young in India is seen as a more "traditional" channel. The glitz of Americanised channels are more popular. I prefer the BBC as I have come to trust it and its considerable independence.
If this trust has to be carried on to the present crop of young persons, I would say that BBC has to expand into a bit more entertainment/infotainment programmes. Perhaps even start beaming a couple of your UK channels over? I am sure you will find revenue from the expanding Indian industrial and commercial fields...

  • 27.
  • At 09:20 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sulove wrote:

As an Indian who lives overseas, the BBC is a great source of internationally-important news from South Asia, but I have found myself trolling through the web sites of Indian newspapers for in-depth coverage and local stories.

Perhaps the BBC should expand its local bureaux in India to capture and report stories more timely. I've noticed that the op-ed-type articles frequently cover a lot of ground, but regular stories are sometimes too short and elemental to the point of not offering new analysis.

The BBC does have an advantage in other areas: it has maintained a unique style of writing that makes its reporting consistent and easy-to-follow. Plus, I've never had the need to fact-check information that I find on the BBC news website.

  • 28.
  • At 09:21 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • PeeVeeAh wrote:

I'm sorry Steve - this response isn't coming from one of your target demographic!....Pete (UK)

"India rising" ?

Into what?

An energy-strapped, raw-materials-plundered First World, perhaps? With 800 million more wannabes wanting to live the 20th century western dream! The teetering premise that another superconsumer nation of such 'upwardly mobile' aspirations and magnitude can thrive in perpetuity is frightening. This is no criticism of the competitive desires of any nation on what remains of the worlds dwindling natural bounty, but rather an ironic prediction of extinction of the last resources after just over one century of super-consuming orgy and plunder! :-/

I've digressed again!: The BBC will remain a valuable international news source - for as long as its agenda is squeaky-clean and free from international coloration! I'm sure the Indian News media engine will rival the BBC's traditional role and feel sure that the historical rank will change as independence and pride in national achievement eclipse the legacy values. It's business! But positive growth in all the world markets will track the resource levels we have left. Oops! Back on my hobbyhorse!

  • 29.
  • At 09:25 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Mrignayani wrote:

I read the South Asia coverage regularly, but mostly not for the news. I get my news from Indian news papers such as Times of India, Indian Express and Hindustan Times. I mostly read BBC to get your coverage of the news as well as know know your opinion and most of the time I feel that it does not represent the actual ground to earth reporting but quite superficial. still I can not stop myself at least to have a glance on this page daily.

  • 30.
  • At 09:44 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Mayank Mishra wrote:

I am a HUGE fan of your news network,be it online or offline.Must say that your network provides the best of everything one wishes to see in a news channel.The thing that I like the best about your channel is the dignified manner in which you present all the programs.
With India now occupying a more prominent role in the international arena,people here now want to know what's happening in the outside world.BBC can utilize this desire by focusing a little bit more on the sub-continent,not actually in terms of news coverage but in terms of news analysis.By adding just few lines about how a major news event will effect India(or the subcontinent) will make a huge difference.Airing few more opinions from the subcontinent on issues can also be done.
Indian news channels are now pushing hard to gather news from outside India but at present they are no where close to where you are positioned in this field.Just few modifications to reach out reach out to the public and you rule.

  • 31.
  • At 09:46 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Aravind wrote:

If I want to read news about India from a European perspective, I go to BBC. This might be just my opinion but I find some of the news articles about India have a slight negative overtones. Like there is always a mention about poverty, corruption or wars with Pakistan/China even in the most positive of the news articles. Even the so called 'developed countries have their own problems. I fail to see the rationale in highlighting India's problems.

  • 32.
  • At 09:46 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Aditya wrote:

BBC news has fair and true news. Its opinions are not biased. Generally Indian papers are very pro-India. Indians sitting in foreign countries generally want to hear true facts, not "masala" news. BBC can give more coverage in its website for India. Comparatively it has very little news in relation to India.

I am a regular reader of BBC South Asia. As an Indian living in US, I would say that BBC is my preffered source of news when it comes to India. I have found most Indian News papers, including Times of India and Hindustan Times more commercial in nature rather than really providing valuable news to visitors.

I hope that the print versions are still good on quality compared to the annoying online editions.

  • 34.
  • At 09:51 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Ravindra Kumar wrote:

I would suggest BBC should increase its presence in the Indian market especially the rural areas. I still remember listening BBC on radio everynight as a young kid back in late 80s and everyone in my village was kind of using it as a test of truth and gold standard. Even though there is a huge lot of news channels and papers that are coming these days in India, they really lack the credibility and unbiased nature of reporting that BBC provides on wide-ranging subjects. Even today, if I find a news on NDTV, CNN-IBN or anything about India, I make sure to go to BBC for a fact check. I think BBC should not lose this opportunity to expand its presence in Indian market, obviously without compromising on the quality like most the news channels operating these days in India. Now I live in US and most of my friends that I know still keep complaining about the lack of quality of news. The expansion of BBC in India would be a welcome addition.

  • 35.
  • At 09:53 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Anil Kumar Batchu wrote:

I do follow the south asia news coverage from the international broadcasters and from local media. One good advantage for international media is they report the news from a neutral point of view, where as most of the local news agencies are a bit biased. I feel BBC shouldn't change its course for the India, rather stay on their path which is good already.

Quite an interesting blog post. I'm a 21 year old final year college student from New Delhi, and I always watched international channels like BBC and CNN to see how the international media covered news related to India. While BBC was way better than CNN in that respect, I still felt that some of the news items were slightly prejudiced (probably due to ignorance?). I mean its like only now you've recognized India thanks to its economy and I see BBC covering Indian news in its proper form.

I think that BBC is truly a world class channel, but it gets stiff competition from an Indian English language news channel called "NDTV 24/7" when you talk of English news viewership in India. The programming,, graphics. music, news anchors are all quite good at NDTV.

One word of advice: Its not necessary that you focus more on Indian news to attain mass viewership here. There are many English things that we love to hear about, especially anything related to J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter (at least those love reading are crazy about HP here), the royal family, late princess Diana, education in UK (Oxford, Cambridge and LSE are not anonymous here) and a lot more things.

Hope I was clear

  • 37.
  • At 11:00 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • VJ Raghav wrote:

India raising,
Yes ofcourse in poverty, corruption.
A revolution will surely make india a Good rasing nation. Strong rules and laws should be enforced. The recent growth is a good sign but at the same time one should not forget the Evils eyes on it.

As a regular BBC viewer i appreciate its coverage over India. Still many areas can be covered that will benefit the millions of common man. India needs lots attention on the day to day issues like pollution, Infrastructure and ofcourse water.
By which you can win the millions of hearts and souls.
More hours can be alloted for news based on India on a day, atleast for Indian coverage.

  • 38.
  • At 11:06 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sajal Sahay wrote:

I have grown up as a child in India listening to BBC radio (usually cricket games), and then when living in the UK, and now in the US, as an avid watcher of both the BBC UK news and now the World Service. I also read your website every I do several of the reputable Indian newspapers. That should be the answer in itself -- I find the Indian news organizations as reputable as the BBC, and I think you will rightly find an appropriate place for Indian consumers. You will never be the only news source for the educated Indian, but one of the trusted few. Keep doing what keeps you differentiated -- an extensive global coverage that more and more Indians are realizing is important to their livelihood.

  • 39.
  • At 11:07 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sher wrote:

The main thing that the BBC offers in south asia and around the world is nonpartisan news , information without corporate or political censorship( i'm sure it does happen, but tooo a much lower extent than what the others offer).
This "Integrity" is what puts the BBC a notch above its rivals and gives it that respected name.
oh and really good grammer and writers, it really is a pleasure reading or listening to a bit of an international persepective on the english language.

  • 40.
  • At 11:10 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Prashant Kumar wrote:

I agree completely with the last comment. BBC news has been a part of our family time for more years than i can remember. It is probably one of the few un biased fact based news service, which doesnt only focus on one region. It gives a larger picture of the world around us, and allows everyone to be fully informed about current affairs. There is no chance of BBC ever failing in India, no matter what competition arises.
News services will not be the same if BBC isnt operating in such a place, especially India, as with each passing moment, news channels seem in India are seeming to become like the ones in the United States...Too involved in domestic issues, and less in what the international world is going through everyday.
I agree with sunil whole-heartedly in saying, Good work, keep it up.

  • 41.
  • At 11:11 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sher wrote:

The main thing that the BBC offers in south asia and around the world is, nonpartisan news . information without corporate or political censorship( i'm sure it does happen, but it isnt as transperant or 'in your face' compared to others).
This "Integrity" and a truly "international" news coverage is what puts the BBC wolrd service, a notch above its rivals and gives it that respected name.
oh and really good grammer and professional writing skills, it really is a pleasure reading or listening to a bit of 'international english' .

  • 42.
  • At 11:13 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Guru Bhat wrote:

Indians have always viewed the BBC as the standard-bearer for fair and balanced reporting/commentary. This is something few, if any, of the newer channels can lay claim to. With India's power and clout rising in almost all spheres, guaging the rest of the world's attitude towards India will be important to many young Indians who have thus far been accustomed to India not being accorded too much respect on the international stage. If the BBC can deliver this perspective during this growing phase when Indians coming to terms with their economic and political might, it will certainly set itself apart from the competition.

  • 43.
  • At 11:20 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Sreeparna wrote:

I love reading the BBC! I am an Indian living in America and am fairly disappointed by the American media's coverage of anything which is not the Middle East or the United States. I also like the BBC's balanced potrayal of South Asia in particular and the world in general. I only have one request i.e. to remove columns of people like Preity Zinta from the website. She never has anything relevant or important to say and I do not see how she contributes in any meaningful way to an Indian perspective.

  • 44.
  • At 11:24 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Anshu wrote:


Completely agree with Sunil's post.

Though we have so many media outlets in India, your coverage seems more balanced and reliable.

I live in United States and am always puzzled by lack of a 24hour BBC new channel on TV here!? I consider your news coverage much better than any of the media here too.

Only thing I would like to see is a bit more comprehensive coverage of India (including the local issues) on your website, if possible.


Here at UC Berkeley, there is a little tradition of having the main pages of selected daily newspapers on a library wall. There are six slots, two of which are fixed: The Washington Post, The Guardian. Two of the other four slots are most often (9/10 times) taken by the Jerusalem Post and the Arab News. The final two slots are more generic, usually taken by South China Post, The Asahi Shimbun, The New Anatolian, Irish Independent and rarely (i mean rarely) there is The Times of India. So everyday when I look at that wall, I tell myself "Well, Middle East is definitely important. But is it worth 9/10 times when there are two giant countries China and India rising ??". I get a similar feeling when I watch BBC in India. BBC is of course outstanding in its coverage, analysis etc. etc...but does it cover enough of India when it does Indian programming? Most of the times, it is not enough to compete with NDTV and its ilk.

  • 46.
  • At 12:06 AM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Santosh wrote:

The BBC is definitely the most trusted source in India for "World" News, not so much for "Indian" news. And I think most international channels make a mistake in assuming that they must localize their coverage. Not so! That's what local Indian news outlets are for and just like a foreign channel cannot hold a candle to the local channels in covering Indian news, neither can the local channels even begin to compete with the BBC for international news.

If the BBC sticks to covering international news as professionally as it has done all these years and without the crass commercialization of news apparent in other channels, it will remain at the top in India. You are right in saying that the beeb is a trusted name for many!

  • 47.
  • At 12:13 AM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Dilip wrote:

Hi Steve,
I am a regular reader of BBC online and also the South Asia section. I think you and your team have done a good job of covering India and South Asia, definitely better than your other International competition, especially the US media. BBC is definitely a trusted media site. However, I truly think there is an opportunity for you to expand your coverage and truely become "the India experts", especially at a time when India and Indian companies are coming out on the global stage and flexing their muscles. I think, inspite of the coverage you provide, there is a dearth of in-depth coverage of events related to India and Indian business.

In spite of the hype you are trying to create about India, you have little understanding of a former British colony, not too long ago.

Other day I heard a debate where a former corporate executive defended the industrial India and a lady presented the case of Peasant Bharat.
It is the point: do you understand that Bharat is different than India? If not then he debate is of no value.

  • 50.
  • At 09:28 AM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Arun Philip wrote:

I'm an Indian who has grown up listening to BBC Radio, and then graduated to BBC World/News with the advent of satellite TV. I still use BBC as my #1 source of news (hey, I'm here, aren't I!).

My 2nd source of news (especially India-specific) is NDTV which gives good local news coverage.

As you've rightly stated, BBC is a trusted source to me. CNN ranks near the bottom. On the paper front, it is The Hindu.


  • 51.
  • At 11:56 AM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Jai Khosla wrote:

I do not expect this comment to be posted by BBC because BBC is a biased media outlet. It is anti-India, anti-US, pro-Muslim(perhaps because the son of its chief became a Muslim), afraid of the truth being published, and is too politically correct.

99.9% of Iraq is peaceful and prospering because of US intervention and yet BBC focuses on Baghdad.

Almost a million Hindus have been ethically cleansed from Kashmir, an integral part of India and yet BBC refuses to write the story of this ethnic cleansing by Muslims, insisting on calling Kashmir India-Administered Kashmir. Kashmir is an integral part of India and became part of India according to the rules set at partition.

Is London with its majority non-whites a UK administered state?

How about writing about the 3 million Hindus who were massacred in East Pakistan by Muslims?

  • 52.
  • At 01:49 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Prashanth wrote:


For starters, BBC provides an outsiders perspective to news in India, which is very useful when you live in a media environment that is fast approaching saturation. However my only complaint is that in a crunch situation political correctness seems to triumph over opinion in the reportage of certain contentious issues.

To us Indians living in India, it just appears to be a reflection of the western 'OMG how can these guys be so bad and so good at the same time!!' attitude, we find that slightly patronizing to say the least.


  • 53.
  • At 02:14 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • dipesh wrote:

I am an avid reader of the South Asian section of BBC website. I also participate in the HYS debates. I find BBC to be miles ahead than any other news agency in providing us with unbiased news. I come to the BBC to get a western perspective on news events in India. Although the coverage can be patronising sometimes, I would rather read that than some overtly nationalistic and sensational news items in the Indian media. I would also urge the BBC to start a 24/7 news channel in India, maybe through a partnership with an Indian company. It would surely rival NDTV for the top spot.

  • 54.
  • At 02:51 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Ajay wrote:

BBC is one of the trusted news outlet for me. I read BBC news daily online and watch its program on TV at least a few days a week. What I like about it is that it presents fairly balanced view of most of the events. I also like "Have your say" section on its website.

As per coverage of events from my motherland India is concerned, I think BBC is doing an incredible job. Almost all the articles I have read so far has a mention of the fact that India has so many poor people and that the rosy picture stated in the rest of the section of the article does not necessarily apply to majority of Indians.

BBC! keep up the good work!

  • 55.
  • At 03:23 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • m.srinath reddy wrote:

Objectivity is a chimera. and worst sins are committed in the name of 'balancing a report'. That said, BBC remains by and large a credible source. One can even find occasionally some interesting insights and perspectives in its features. In the burgeoning media mostly dishing out trivia, many indians do look up to bbc for some serious content. The Indian media passes the muster in its coverage of national and regional issues, it is abysmally inadequate in its coverage of international news, particularly South Asia. This explains why BBC Urdu and BBC Hindi broadcasts are popular in the subcontinent. Is it not worthwhile to include the contents of these broadcasts BBC (English) website? For, there are many who can understand these languages, but not their scripts.

  • 56.
  • At 04:41 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • rama wrote:

I have been an avid reader of bbc as long as I can remember.
Mainly I browse through south asia section, Business and Technology and even sports - mainly cricket.
I must agree that BBC is very unbiased, professional and balanced. The news reports are transparent and there is coverage from all of south asia.
Though there are many indian websites available. Many are filled with little pop-ups and flash media screaming for attention and seem very immature. Useless articles from bollywood forms the core of the Indian websites.

BBC website has a classic look. I congratulate the team for the good work and I hope to see more.

  • 57.
  • At 05:39 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Anand Seshadri wrote:

There is no other. Not in India nor elsewhere. There may be a million TV channels in India but, lets be honest, most of it is junk TV just as most channels in the US are junk. Like many, I grew up in the early seventies listening to BBC world service radio on my trusted Zenith shortwave world radio and then later on opted for that cable channel package that had BBC world TV and now visit your website everyday.

The BBC is a bit like the New York Times newspaper in the US. Castigated by many, it nevertheless is the standard bearer for all. The BBC is not always so balanced as it claims to be and its British biases do come through, but thats a small price to pay for the gravitas it brings to our perception of events around the world.

Is there a place for the BBC in India? Heck yes. Where would we go otherwise? CNN? Fox News? You have to ggive us more credit.

  • 58.
  • At 07:07 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Ramesh wrote:

I listened to the India Rising program with interest. BBC does a decent job of reporting on India, but to an Indian born in the post colonial era, your colonialist bias shows through if one listens carefully to the opinions expressed in BBC.

I listen to BBC because it is the only channel that comes closest to objective worldwide coverage (king among the blind) on radio in North America.

I don't believe BBC can shake this bias off on its own. This bias is after all a few hundred years old. However, if you really want to make a difference in a place like India, you need to assiduously cultivate native Indian business/media alliances that reflect the opinions, aspirations and cultural nuances of India and Indians.

The Indian media is still young but is rapidly maturing. So if you want to stay relevant, partner with one or more of Indian media companies to help BBC transform into an objective 21st century communication organization rather than the traditional colonialist pseudo-objective(from India's perspective) institution it has been during the 20th century.

Thanks for all the comments – lots to ponder. On the plus side you pick out the international perspective of the BBC, “a view from the outside”, analysis and insight, the website’s Have your Say pages, unbiased news and wide coverage. Some of the criticisms: not all agree we’re fair in our coverage, we’ve focused too much on the caste issue recently, we’re patronising and we don’t report India in enough depth or detail. I think it’s interesting how many of you are in the habit of combining and contrasting news sources, so keeping track of our coverage on the region but looking at Indian media too. In any case I can assure you we’re fully committed to continuing to cover India well and looking for new ways to do it even better - and it’s clear there’s plenty of competition for your attention.

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.