Saturday, December 27, 2008

BBC/The Box - an idea worth copying

Good ideas are worth copying. The Box - a BBC documentary on the travels of shipping container - ought to give ideas, not just to our media but also social activists groups such as Rebuild India Mission(RIM). The BBC programme tells the story of international trade and globalisation by tracking a 40-ft shipping container on its journey around the world. Isn't this a fascinating way to tell a dull and dreary story of the global downturn?

The BBC box, for instance, set out from Scotland with a consignment of whiskey bound for Shanghai. The brewary manager, interviewed by BBC, said the economic meltdown in the west had little impact on their market in China and India, where the demand for scotch was, in fact, on a rising curve. The chief of Marks & Spencers in Shanghai, who took delivery of the liquor, gave BBC correspondent an insight into the shopping habits of the growing middle-class in Shanghai.

The BBC container picked up from Shanghai made-in-China consumer items for the US market. The Chinese factory workers expressed concern about the prospects of a fall in export orders. The next port of call for the BBC container was Los Angeles, from where it travelled hinterland on a heavy-duty truck to New Jersy. The story at LA was about slackening outbound container traffic because of falling US exports. An upshot of this was loss of high-paying jobs in the dock area. They had to cut down on the number of crane operators because of lower container shipments. A crane operator at LA port made $160,000 a year.

Rebuilding India Mission, a bloggers initiative, could partner with Times Now, NDTV,IBN-CNN or whichever TV channel that is enterprising enough to take on a wagon-tracking operation on the BBC pattern, to give us all a sense of India, our consumption pattern, trade practices, social norms, and factors that promote or counter the idea of a unified India. And the story could be told by tracking a railway goods wagon that criss-crosses the country.

BBC didn't have to spend much - other than painting the box with its logo and fittting in it a GPS transmitter. The shipping container paid for its keep. BBC merely kept track of its location by having a GPS transmitter bolted in the container. With an Indian rail goods wagon one need not invest in GPS system. For the movement of a frieght wagon can be traced with the help of the railways communication network.

RIM website could follow the wagon through its journey; and report its progress on a regular basis.TV channels and print media could publish stories on the wagon's cargo and the people associated with its production, transport and marketing. Citizen journalists and bloggers could post their take, and photos on the passage of RIM wagon through their town.

1 comment:

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