All posts in the Magazines category

The Facebook & Fake News Issues

Published April 15, 2017 by vishalvkale

The title of this article just about says it all… The Facebook Issue. This article is coming after a long self-examination and Facebook feed examination, with the explicit purpose of putting Facebook and its contemporary utility in Social Media with relevance to me as an individual. This deep introspective examination has lead to startling revelations to myself, which is what I am attempting place here, with an intent to support my decision to move my Social Media content away from Facebook due to issues arising out of the feed and the interaction that happens on it.
But first, the background. I came onto Facebook as a means to get in daily touch with family, find old friends, and keep connected with them. It then grew into a method of chronicling important events in my life through Photographs & Posts, that I could visit later. Both the above have given excellent results, and shall continue as important aspects of my digital profile with added security features, like sharing in Secret Groups, and strong personal security options.
Facebook then developed into a News Feed, as I liked the home-pages of all the publications I follow; it became an easy way for me to access the news as it happens. This has given superb results as well as  many, many discoveries and learnings through pointed articles. Not only that, it has also lead to my discovering other great Media Vehicles for topics of my interests. This is now becoming a major issue, and the most significant reason for my hunt for other options.
However, there has been a significant change in past few months, maybe an year or two, which has increasingly caused me to wonder how to manage my feed. The problem was it wasn’t as simple as cutting a few people – whose views I may not agree with, but with whom I am close. In other words, I place a greater value on my relationship with them, than disagree with their views. One doesn’t stop interacting just because you don’t agree; true relations thrive despite differences.
The other, bigger problem was the contamination of my feed with POVs which are rather disturbing, things which  are too close to my Value-Belief Matrix for me to ignore. Being mature, one can ignore once, twice, thrice… but there comes a time when your defences drop, and you end up responding to the views, which is not the way forward. However, this is again related to POVs of my circle, one which can be managed by the simple measure of disengaging, like I have done on Politics totally. This has helped preserve some relationships – indeed deepen them.
By far the biggest issue is the scepter of Fake News, which is rampant, and appears regularly on my News Feed. The reason is that Facebook is by far the most popular Social Media Vehicle. This is compounded by the belief systems of my circle, some of whom tend to believe in these fake news articles. What is more disturbing is that even I have fallen to these articles and, on occasion, believed in them – despite my rather excellent repertoire of reading on a wide variety of subjects as documented on my blog quite faithfully over the past 5 years and more. This complex of Fake News + Belief Systems amplifies this Fake News, making it appear all over my News Feed.

While I can disengage with my circle; that is easy to do – it is not so easy to disengage with these articles which keep popping up with disturbing regularity. That increases the risk of I myself falling prey to them exponentially, as quite a few people in my circle also read and circulate them. And that is what is not acceptable to me as a person. My primary usage of Facebook was as a News Feed and as a means to keep in touch with family. Now, there are options available that can fill some of my needs…

Whatsapp has filled a major gap; now it is easier than ever to remain in daily touch far more effectively. That apart, one can access Facebook once every day just to see what is happening with Friends and Family, achieved by cutting off all Social Media Engagements & Likes, which will purify my feed instantaneously. Sure, FF feeds will still appear, but, over time as my Facebook time falls, the quality of my feed will improve automatically, leaving all of us the happier in the bargain.
I cant disengage with Facebook totally; that would be stupid. I am just stating a smarter more strategic usage of the same. My blog still gets good readership from Facebook just to take another exampe, meaning it is valuable resource. All I am saying or rather advocating is the full usage of the other emergent technologies that are coming – like RSS Feeds, Email Subscriptions, Paid Subscriptions to content – and most of all Twitter. A judicious combination of these will fill the gap, give me a relatively clean and pure feed of news of my choice, keep me engaged socially as well.

Reason is that these vehicles are relatively uncontaminated as of now, especially Twitter, which is virgin pure almost. There is a near-total absence of disturbing nonsense as of now on Twitter, as it is not as populated and popular as Facebook. Likewise, RSS Feeds and Email Subscriptions, Paid content can be managed easily by regular monitoring. This will ensure the purity of my news feed, free from Fake News and disturbing content which is increasing by leaps and bounds on Facebook. And if Facebook’s attempt to clean up Fake News works, then maybe, some day, I can start re-engaging in the old fashion… 

The Screen As A Strategy : Understanding The Internet

Published April 29, 2015 by vishalvkale

I closed the previous article {found here : Understanding The Internet : Reaching Into The Gut Of Existing Systems} with a statement that few organizations truly understand how to use the 5-21” space of the screen;  this article looks at this aspect in a little more detail. A great many companies use the customer-facing aspects of the internet as merely another tool to communicate and connect, completely ignoring the full power of the internet ecosystem.
The Screen, first of all, is mistakenly defined as just a mere device that displays, or acts as a window, disseminating information to your prospects and customers, and the general audience. The screen is more of a doorway, a portal that transports – or has the ability to – transport your customer into a world of constantly interacting stakeholders in your product, your company and your addressable market segment. If that doesn’t scare you as a Brand Manager, as a Marketer, and as a Sales Professional, high time it did.
Before the internet ecosystem evolved, the touchpoints a customer had for interfacing with your products were limited – The Shop, Company Offices, Other Customers who were limited to those who were met personally, Media, Competitors and a few more. But cut to today and that has undergone a sea-change, with the potential ability of the customer connect having increased to almost infinity, with the feasibility of getting exposed to and influenced by a much larger array of touchpoints, viewpoints, opinions – as well as both positive and negative customer feedback and experiences
It stands to reason that in the changed environment of freer flow of information & increased touchpoints, the customer communication has to change from a one-sided monologue to more of an engagement with the customer. The reason is straightforward – a greater number of touchpoints mean larger information volume and interactions, contrarian opinions, noise and greater scope for replaceable products to engage with prospective customers, as well as greater potential of the medium to enhance audience experiences.
Thus far, we are on established management jargon, which is spouted by a good number of companies. Only a select few organizations manage to actually convert the monologue with an active engagement; very very few, in fact. For, a large majority of the sites I visit, at least in India, still adhere to the old style of communication; little effort is made to enhance the customer experience, and make it more rewarding and meaningful. In some cases, the customer experience is actually negative in many ways. The reason this is not showing in sales is either due to the price differential; products are cheaper on the Ecommerce sites, or due to other attendant disadvantages.
Let me illustrate with 2 examples : one B2C and one B2B. The internet is so vast, that it is not feasible for me to cover more in a blog post; neither is it advisable. In B2C, let us take books. Why does a customer buy a book online? There are two reasons : Price, and Convenience, which has lead to galloping sales at online book stores. But halt a moment, and analyse in depth. And, instead of asking what does the internet give you, ask what does a book stall give you? Reverse your viewpoint for a minute!
In a book store, you can get a feel of the book, you can flip its pages – which is pretty damned important if you are reading a new author, or a serious topic; you can easily compare similar books or two options on the same subject. Furthermore, you can far more easily spot new books; the interface is much bigger than a small screen; in a store, you are exposed to 4 walls crammed with books, which  make for easy discovery.
To compete with this, you have the price-offs and the convenience factor of the small screen; till date there has been on attempt at going beyond this. Reviews do not count in the age of the convergence of technology; it is simple enough a task to look a book’s reviews on your smartphone and purchase offline! The offline stores are also now becoming more nimble, willingly offering discounts to regular customers, and other small facilities, like getting selected books for them. They are now allowing customers to sit on sofas in comfort, and browse books to their heart’s content – in other words, they have added several value-additions to the customer interface, making for a much more rewarding experience
And that is where the digital players are not doing anything : trying to make the customer interface more rewarding. Sure, this will be expensive, time-consuming and demanding; but it will have to be done sooner or later. Currently, you are not facing the pain as the market is untapped, and there is a scorching growth pace, that is hiding the underbelly. All are advised to study Telecom, and how its ARPU fell, and draw parallels and extrapolate to the future, with penetration at higher levels. That is a reality every industry has to face.
In our example, a moments’ thought and you can spot any number of ways that the customer experience can be made more rewarding. You can facilitate browsing titles – and the usage of technology can ensure that the browsing experience in online stores will be leagues ahead of the offline experience, as you can offer targeted searches in the book’s content. Author-searches, cross-selling opportunities, specific searches of interest – all of which can make the customer experience exceptionally powerful.
You cannot match the dexterity and ease of new book discovery in offline stores; but you can work around this issue by offering other advantages. You can offer first 1o pages downloads free, as an example. You can look at facilitating direct interactions with the author, fan pages, discussion forums; you can facilitate book searches and book discovery in a much wider database, and can give options for time of delivery if book not in stock {beyond the current We Will Get In Touch When In Stock} and so on and so forth.
All this can be achieved at the touch of a button for the customer, which cannot be matched by the offline store. The current model of price-driven sales online is already driving a deep schism into offline models, leading to a massive backlash by offline models, who are competing with extraordinary tenacity and dexterity, and are in the process not only maintaining relevance, but actually winning back lost ground.
And all because the online people aren’t using the full power of the medium; and that is because the pain isn’t showing in the numbers, as the high growth rate is ensuring the new customers are greater than Churn. As I said, learn from Telecom : there will come a time when Churn will exceed new customers. And no one can say how far away that time is, given the stunningly scorching growth rates in this industry.
In the next article, I shall take a look at the B2B marketplace, as well as some interesting entirely avoidable mistakes made by the best of them in this trade in both the B2B and B2C Space. 

Online and Digital Media – A Different Perspective 1

Published November 24, 2013 by vishalvkale

Online and Digital Media are the flavour of the day, with everyone waxing eloquent about the prospects and opportunities of the said medium. In the Information Technology age that we are living in, it is only to be expected that there would be an exuberance and a dream of high growth and deep penetration of this medium. And, truth be told, the initial figures that are now coming in – and these are initial days, make no mistake – have only underlined the tremendous potential of this nascent industry. 
However, every coin has 2 sides; every situation has multiple perspectives. And remember that the full nature of the industry is not revealed till it enters its fast growth or even mature phase. These are early days for the online medium, and it is going to be an interesting growth phase for it, as it grows and tries to meet the challenges and hurdles that are thrown its way.And, insofar as it has not had to meet any challenges till date, it should be interesting to see how it deals with the first few challenges. But all that and more lies in the distant future, and will come about in the fullness of time. The question is, can we spot any challenges, or differing perspectives, that might throw some light on the days ahead? 
To my mind, the first challenge, or hurdle it will have to find ways to overcome can be from the field of advertising – how it will overcome or re-orient to this challenge when it does come is going to be critical. Currently, as Ms Vanita Kohli-Khandekar pointed out recently in an article India Online – On the go, the revenue from advertising is rising – and rising fast, driven by a combination of growth in the medium along with significant alterations in consumption habits of customers. We shall look at the consumption habits of customers in a later article; let us take a look at the advertising aspect – not from an advertisers’ view, but from a customers’ viewpoint
I myself am a habitual online consumer in a couple of categories, as well as have a more than peripheral involvement in my professional sphere with a few websites for my range of products, and have thus seen and experienced both sides of the coin. Viewed from my professional standpoint, I cant spot a speck on the online horizon. But the moment I shift my perspective to that of a consumer, everything changes, and questions begin to emerge. Questions which find no ready answer as current industry practices stand. 
On reading the referenced article, something clicked in my mind: and I asked myself a basic question – what advertisments do I recall? I could not recall even a single solitary online advertisment, banner, insert, or pop-up on the first thought; neither could I recall any even after some thought. It was only some 15-20 minutes later, that one came to  mind. In the interim, I could recall several print advertisments, as well as television advertisements – but not one single online advertisement. Critically, I am online for a large part of the day on my laptop, as well as am professionally involved in a small way, as a part of my business targets comprise online revenues and sales. Further, I am an active online consumer. And yet, I could not recall any advertisement. 
What’s going on here? Why should this be so? I am exposed to online advertisements – I must be, since I regularly visit TOI, HT, Flipkart, Homeshop18, Amazon, Quora, Blogger, Livemint, Business Standard, Railway Portals,Youtube as well as myriad other assorted sites. And yet, my call is a total of zero. Note that recall after 20 minutes does not count in advertising. In an interesting contrast, I can recall innumerable Television ads (Fill It, Shut It, Forget it -Hero Honda, 20 years ago even; Cadbury girl dancing in the rain; Cadbury adults can have chocolates theme; Idea Ad; Volkswagen Vento and other ads; Mint with the hole – Polo; Amul Theme ad; Britannia Marie… I could go on and on here). I can also recall innumerable print ads – Airtel; Color Plus; Vertu; Complan; LIC etc. I can even recall huge numbers of hoardings without thinking – but not one single online advertisement. 

Even allowing for a bad memory – the inescapable fact is that online medium does not make a lasting impression. It does not enable top-of-the-mind recall; and, far too obviously, it does not even manage to communicate the core message that must be at the heart of each advertisement’s strategy. And the point of the bad memory is inadmissible, given my crystal clear recall of ads in other media. Theory tells us that one of the strategies that can be adopted in online media is a call-to-action, wherein a click can take you to your desired site, enabling a purchase decision – if not an actual purchase. Here again, we run into questions: for I further cannot recall any instance of even a single online purchase that has been driven by perchance clicks. 
Admittedly, in this instance, recall is not the right parameter – which is why I state “questions”, unlike above, wherein I have made a categorical assertion. That I must have encountered interesting links is a givne; I must also have followed those links. But as a consumer, I have no recollection of it ever creating a lasting impression in my mind. Contrast this with the other media like print and television – even hoardings. For example, Color Plus, I had never consciously seen anyone wearing that brand in my circle, so had no direct contact. And I can recall the powerful impression that back-cover and inside back-cover magazine placements of its advertisments; I can recall the presentation of the products and my drooling and determination to purchase one the ,moment I was earning enough to afford one. 
I can quote other examples; but the question remains the same – even as a call-to-action, online advertisements fail to make the cut in comparison to other media. It does not enable recall, it does not manage to communicate the core message, it does not enable a call-to-action. The reason is simple – in the internet, the control is truly in the mind and hands of the consumer, When I log on to TOI, I know precisely where the first headline comes – my mind automatically focusses my eyes on that approximate location. If you insert an ad while loading, the site helpfully provides a link that bypasses the ad. It you get a pop-up, your mind focusses your primary attention in the “x” mark that will close the ad. In a youtube video, your mind focusses your eyes and attention on the area where “skip video” option shows up…
Which brings me to the core point of my article – why, then, should I, as a practising business manager, recommend anything more than a peripheral presence on the internet in terms of advertising?  Clicks do not translate into business; in advertising, the core mission is 2-fold: always and everytime. First, enabling brand recall – top-of-mind recall; and second, communicate the message. The message can be just brand recall, or product features, or call-to-action (Sales Promos), or anything. But the message has to get through. If the ad fails to do either, what am I getting out of it? So what if the cost-per-impression is the lowest in online advertisements – which it decidedly is? Far too obviously, interaction with the customer through other media is of a much higher quality; money spent there is seemingly much more effective…
Feel free to answer my questions raised here; these are those that have occurred to me in the daily grind of doing business…  In the next article in this series, we shall take a look at consumption habits, and at the awesome and brutal power of this little understood medium, a power that I have felt, a potential to get into the gut of existing business models and rip them apart from within… the first tremors of which are already being noticed by the sales teams and the channel…

The Great Inclusion Vs Growth Debate

Published August 21, 2013 by vishalvkale

Some people state that India requires inclusive growth, that we require to support the people through interventionist and populist policies, that we need to shepherd the people with a supporting and guiding hand. Others state with equal vehemence that we require easier competition, that we require to unlock the industry, that we require to give market forces an opportunity… and so the debate goes on; and so the great Indian circus of development efforts continues; and so the great and misdirected Governmental efforts to direct – or misdirect, in reality – India continues. And the fun (or sadness, depending on your point of view) continues, unabated and unstoppable, regardless of who is in power…

A cursory perusal of the newspapers will readily bring out the above as simple fact. It is there in just about every daily; in just about every magazine that you would care to pick up and read. Some articles glibly suggest an even more diabolical and dangerous viewpoint, that the correct method lies in a blend of the above – namely, market-friendly policies and reforms with a human face of support and intervention for the poorest of the poor. These are views that, regardless of which side of this debate you are on, sound good to the ears; and yet, are totally off the mark as they don’t address the core issue that is currently facing India, that is threatening to engulf all of us; perhaps it already has swallowed all of us, for all we know!

The reality of Capital Flight is now there for all to see, as businessman after businessman invests abroad; as international investors give India a bypass; as our Current Account Deficit balloons; as inflation reaches stratospheric levels and as the exchange rate enters new territory almost every trading session! These are factors and realities that can no longer be ignored, or wished away. And neither are they unconnected; the glib reason aft stated for the slide of the Rupee – QE-related problems and developed market concerns, cannot explain away the sustained run on the Rupee, neither can they explain away the steady fall against all currencies; neither can they explain the steady decline for the past 2-3 years; and neither can they explain inflation, or investment decline or anything else. 

Similar is the case with any other solution proffered – for example, that now-famous grand strategy statement named market reforms, a statement that can have the distinction of making a great statement while meaning nothing in real terms, a feel good statement that sounds good to everyone, as they can then sidestep the real issues that are confronting India, one that no one wants to confront, as it shows  a mirror to us… and as in that mirror, we can see our own ugly, distorted faces. 

Even the most cursory eye over the various sectors of the economy will throw up one inescapable reality: that nearly every sector from core to consumer goods, from services to manufacturing has been buffeted by scams, scandals and corruption. In the entire great debate being conducted in newspapers between eminent thinkers, editors, politicians, businessmen and economists – you will be hard put to find even a passing mention to this problem. You will, at best, find oblique references in the form of beautiful statements like “it is difficult to do business in India” – statements that mean nothing, while seeming to sound informed and full of meaning. Statements that seem to address the issue head-on, while neatly sidestepping the real issues very adroitly. 

I would like to understand how can we possibly unlock our potential by mere market reforms / How can we solve the problems of the poor by interventionist policies – when 90% of the inputs don’t reach the intended targets, be it investments or subsidies. It is like throwing good money away. You might as well collect the entire cash and throw it in the Indian Ocean, for all the real effect that occurs on the ground situation. This is also supported by hard-core data, as I have previously espoused on my blog on many an occasion.

No amount of policies and changes in them can make an impact, unless implementation on the field is looked at with equal, and perhaps greater emphasis. This is what the entire picture shows – when analysed from a 360-degree approach. Each round of “reforms” is accompanied by grandiose announcements of investments into the country; how many of those get translated into reality – and most critically, and in what time frame do they actually materialise? Furthermore, how many get cancelled due to various and sundry issues? How many get stuck in the red tape?

Corruption is a massive drag on the economy; it is also a brake that is stopping all development. In land issues relating to investments, in subsidies, in regulatory approvals – this is an ever-present brake that is acting on every economic activity. Projects get stuck as people don’t get their dues, leading to protests. Projects get stuck due to laxity, acting as a further impediment. And the nation pays the price of the negligence of our so-called intelligentsia, who have so far not shown the guts, the courage, the audacity and the gall to take on this scourge.  

Let alone corruption, these so-called great men and women in politics, universities and society have so far not shown any inclination to seriously link the other great scourge that is acting as a disk-brake that is threatening to bring the economy to a dead stop, and as a reverse gear that threatens to pull it back. And by that, I mean the total lack of accountability in our so-called public service, for which a pretty strong case can be made out for a renaming to Civil Disservice. The total lack of accountability on Government Servants, and the intertwined corruption is like a spreading cancer that has now engulfed the entire body of Mother India. The lack of accountability means that Primary Health Centers go unattended and unstocked; that medicines get diverted; that schools go unattended, that no genuine teaching occurs, that free books get sold, that projects get stuck and delayed for sheer lack of proper implementation… and so on and so forth. 

And that is the real issue; we require someone with the bloody guts to link the two; sure we need market reforms. We sure as hell need to support the poorer section of our society. But we most of all need a strong implementation culture in our country, a work ethic and a corruption free atmosphere to do business in. 

And judging from The Great Debate that has been on in the Media among Government Servants, Politicians, Economists, Thinkers, Strategists, this is light-years away from the minds of the people who matter. The article that talks of problems facing the economy will usually totally omit the real problems of implementation, while the anti-corruption brigade totally ignores this other side. There is no one that is linking the two; for they are connected and intertwined into one indivisible whole. 

No one has shown the courage to take the real steps to tackle corruption and implementation – tame the Civil Service, include a work-ethic and culture, free the police from political control, improve overall policy implementation. Sadly, there is no debate on the national level on this problem either. All you hear is a deafening, all-engulfing silence, with intelligent people spouting grand strategies that translate into rubbish on the ground.  Only Arvind Kejriwal has come close to this, with his Lokpal campaign… only he has shown the guts… I very much fear that even he has not gone far enough!

And I very much fear that if this is not done post-haste, India faces greater tension in the day to come…

Jaago, Sonewaalon!

Book Review: Tell Me Why Magazine

Published January 25, 2012 by vishalvkale

Tell Me Why is the name of a rare gem of a magazine from the house of Manorama… it is indeed unfortunate that it is not more popular… but more about that later
First, the magazine itself. It is a monthly issue which gives 100+ facts about one single chosen topic every month. Sounds very drab and boring, doesn’t it? It is, in fact, anything but drab. The beauty is in the presentation as well as the content. The presentation is very slick, upmarket, printed on quality paper, the layout very brisk and to the point with full colour features on every single page. That alone makes it sound interesting. If you add to it the content, it becomes a superb magazine. So much so, that while we throw away the other magazines – this is one that is carefully stored away as a future reference material, fun reading and most importantly reading material for our son when he is old enough to understand.
The real beauty is in the content: it is simpe in its wording, the facts mentioned are very interesting and not well known, with attention seeking 3-4 word headings. It is very well supported by full-colour photographs, humour-inducing cartoon / pictorial representations which are usually relevant, that provide an overall fun atmosphere to the magazine. Spread all through the magazine are small sections called “Star Facts” which are set apart from the rest of the content, again in colour. Add to that you have a section called “Amazing” – yes, full colour – that highlights little known facts. And, as the icing on the cake, interesting facts, important or lesser known items are highlighted in a differing colour background. The entire magazine is not presented in the classical column print interface like other magazines, with 2 or 3 equally spaced columns. The presentation is more like a collage, with facts given in stars, overlaid on photographs, in various geometric shapes. Some pages are in 2 column – presentation, with usually one column being in colour. The overall impact is fantastic. This presentation serves a dual purpose: while on the one hand it makes the magazine look interesting, polished and fun; it serves to direct attention to interesting items as well as to highlight important sections on the other.

The sample snapshots I found on various sources on the internet should give you a pretty good idea of the quality of the presentation… A sample of the past few topical editions will give you an idea as to what I am referring to in terms of its interesting content:

1. October 2006 – The Soler System
02. November 2006 – Birds
03. December 2006 – Invention
04. January 2007 – Oceans
05. Fabruary 2007 – Ancient World
06. March 2007 – Cricket and World cup
07. April 2007 – Animals
08. May 2007 – Plants
09. June 2007 – Transportation
10. July 2007 – 100 Great Events
11. August 2007 – The Earth
12. September 2007 – Communication
13. October 2007 – Indian History [ancient days to the arrival of europeans]
14. November 2007 – Festivals
15. December 2007 – Wonders of the World
16. January 2008 – Great Explorers
17. February 2008 – 100 Great Lives
18. March 2008 – Weather
19. April 2008 – International Organisations
20. May 2008 – Deserts
21. June 2008 – Weapons
22. July 2008 – Olympics
23. August 2008 – Computer
24. September 2008 – Egyptian Civilization
25. October 2008 – 100 Great Scientists
26. November 2008 – Continents
27. December 2008 – Revolutions
28. January 2009 – 100 Great Medical Discoveries and Inventions
29. February 2009 – The Moon
30. March 2009 – Great Disasters
31. April 2009 – Insects
32. May 2009 – Metals
33. June 2009 – Money
34. July 2009 – Mythology
35. August 2009 – The Mughals
36. September 2009 – Mountains
37. October 2009 – The Universe
38. November 2009 – Mysteries
39. December 2009 – Sports
40. January 2010 – Diseases
41. February 2010 – Animal Behaviour
42. March 2010 – Water
43. April 2010 – war
44. May 2010 – Prehistoric Creatures
45. June 2010 – World Cup Football
46. July 2010 – Ancient Greece
47 .August 2010 – Story of firsts
48 .September 2010 – Natural Wonders
49. October 2010 – Endangered Animals
50. November 2010 – 100 Great writers
51. December 2010 – Roman Civilization
52. January 2011 – Polar Regions
53. Fabruary 2011 – 100 Great Painters
54. March 2011 – World Wars
55. April 2011 – Mammals
56. May 2011 – Parliaments
57. June 2011 – Reptiles
A sample of the content from some of the latest issues is given below, which will give the reader a much better handle on the content
Countries of the World,  December 2011 “The Kingdom of a million Elephants”, “Why are the Philippines Called by This Name?”,”Holy Surveyors”, “The Land of Ice and Fire”, “The Land of a Thousand Lakes”, “Santa’s Birthplace”, “King Bluetooth”, “The Cradle of Civilization”, “Dusty Continent”, “Suez Canal”, “The Shortest War in History”, “Voodoo”, “Countries Named After People”, “Three Capitals”, Rainbow Nations”, 

Ambhibians, October 2011 “Ancient Frogs”,”Why Are Amphibians Colourful”, “Hot and Cold”, “Wonder Skin”, “Toads and Frogs”, “Why are Poison Dart Frogs Important”, “Poison Glands”, “Dont Touch”, “Delicate Fingers”, “Rain Forest Discoveries”, “What are Froglets”, “Why Do We Say That Frogs Adapt Themselves To Their Habitat”,  “Frogs in Space”, “Breathing Underwater”, “What Are Efts”, “Worm, Snake Or Amphibian”

The content is interesting, and can be for both children – especially adolescent children, who are old enough to understand the above – as well as for adults since a good many facts are not known to even adults! The great pity about this classic magazine is that it is not available everywhere. With the proper level of support, targeted promotions, and emphasis on distribution the sales response is bound to be encouraging for a magazine that has both quality content as well as quality and slick presentation. The lack of availability can be a bit frustrating at times…
In fact, that is the only negative aspect that I can think of regarding this magazine!

If the price of the above package is Rs. 20/- – could you ask for more? I cant! A superb magazine well worth several times its price!

Reader’s Digest: The All In One Magazine

Published January 1, 2012 by vishalvkale

My earliest memories of The Reader’s Digest date to Chennai, where my Dad was posted in 1976-1980. We used to get The Digest every month – and 1 copy among 3.5 readers was simply not enough. (3.5 readers? You dont expect me at age 7 -9 to be counted as a full reader by my family, do you? Come On! I gave you the date… ). I do not remember the articles, but I do remember that the arrival of the Digest was somewhat of an occasion, with Dad and Mom reading the book with full concentration. Afterwards, to my utter chagrin, my brother would also disappear behind it, only to emerge for dinner! 

My memories have nothing to with articles of the magazine – I remember the stacks of Digests which I would love to count and stack one on top of the other in 1976. Later on, I started reading the tail-pieces and some simple jokes etc, but most of the other stuff would still be beyond my comprehension. These would remain beyond my comprehension for a good many years, but I still remember the Digest, and the fun we had as a family….

That is possibly the best description of The Reader’s Digest that I can think of. It is a lovely magazine for the entire family, with its range of editorials and articles having something for everyone in the family. This is one magazine that no one in the family can dismiss as not being for me, such is the width of its coverage. The magazine – each issue is timeless and ageless, and can be read anytime and anywhere. I have even picked up second hand issues when I have spotted them. 

Most magazines have clear content and business focus. They are either business magazines, women magazines, sports etc – but The Digest is one that is truly a general magazine. The articles contained therein do not drive you to question, they do not leave you with a feeling of disgust or hopelessness or any negative feeling. It is not a publication that reports news, nor is the content analytical. It is simply a publication that ensures quality light content for its readers, and attempts to cover as many facets of society and human endeavor in the field of life as it can. Each issue is a collectors’ item in itself, and is a full package of entertainment.

There cannot be more than 25% local content in any edition of the magazine. That is, the Indian Edition can only have 25% Indian content in each issue. This simple check means that each issue of the publication exposes the readers to a veritable kaleidoscope of life and culture. Even the articles on tragedies are reported so well, covering experiences, the way victims have coped with the situation and life afterwards, that you end up getting a ray of hope. 

Then there are the pieces on people in trouble – usually in some natural calamity, marooned in the sea, or trapped somewhere. The blow – by – blow account of how these people – normal everyday citizens like you or me, coped with and won over all odds actually instill you with hope and confidence that life always offers a way out, you just have to keep fighting. There are regular features on technology, medicinal advances, health issues, the problems in the daily life of the people living on the edges (like tribals) – the list is endless. I could go on and on…

But perhaps the hallmark of the Digest is the content on what I would call normal people – mothers on motherhood; interviews with people like Michael Johnson, Nelson Mandela etc; stories of everyday people who became heroes with simple deeds; nutrition / health / psychological tips; articles on children & teenagers; Book Sections; practical tips tricks and ideas; self improvement; financial probity – this is what converts each issue into a collectors item. You cannot pin down the magazine in any way – each issue will have different but quality content which makes it a pleasure to read

Then there are the titbits and jokes of real life contained in Life’s Like That; Armed Forces Real Incidents in Humour in Uniform; College jokes in College Rags; Workplace titbits in All in a Day’s Work… ending up with the fillers aftter each article. These fillers can be anything – one line jokes, quotes, misprints in news, funny signs, real thought provoking incidents et al. What more could you want? 

 A Quality Publication that provides light reading for the whole family – that is Reader’s Digest!