India Really Has A Magazine Called 'Bureaucracy Today' — And It's Perfect

BT Cover

India’s bureaucracy has repeatedly been named the worst in Asia. In fact the term bureaucracy is often used synonymously with corruption in India, while it other parts of the world it refers more to red tape.

So it’s fascinating and wonderful to see a magazine focused entirely on bureaucracy with the fantastically blunt title “bureaucracy today.”

Bureaucracy Today was launched in March 2009 by Suhaib A Ilyasi, who famously launched a television show called India’s Most Wanted in 1999. The magazine claims to have a readership of over 600,000. Its website also declares that its readers are responsible for over 70% of India’s GDP. The magazine costs Rs. 50 (about $0.93).

So, we decided to get a copy of the publication and look through it to see what’s inside. The magazine was nearly impossible to find in Mumbai, the nation’s financial capital. Every news vendor and book store I visited stared back at me quizzically. A friend tracked down a copy in Delhi, home to India’s political capital, New Delhi, and brought it with her to Mumbai.

I expected the magazine to have at least one investigative piece, considering its subhead reads “fearless journalism, our habit, our history!” That isn’t however what I found inside. Instead it’s a very straightforward take on the latest things happening in Bureacracy.

An Indian Express article published almost a year after Bureaucracy Today’s launch dubbed it and other magazines centered on bureaucracy “feelgood journalism for the babu.” When used in the pejorative ‘babu’ refers to a corrupt bureaucrat.

The Business Today cover looks a lot like Newsweek and India's Frontline magazine.

The 'Bureaucracy Scan' section includes recent appointments, transitions, and exits among bureaucrats all over India. It even asks Bureaucrats to email news of their appointment.

'The Behind the Curtain' section of the magazine is gossipy, like a claim that a Congress politician's attacks on a rival have the nod of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Indian political royalty.

For Bureaucrat of the month, the magazine chose Jawhar Sircar, CEO of India's largest public broadcaster, Prasar Bharti that includes Doordarshan and All India Radio.

Atul Saraya, Director of Power at BHEL, an Indian state owned electrical equipment maker was named Bureaucracy Today's Public Sector Unit (BT-PSU) Director of the Year.

Saraya was picked from 35 nominees and by a six-member jury.

The magazine also had a few opinion columns by academics at home and abroad.

The special report on India's income tax department was insightful but hardly 'explosive'.

The 'Corporate Watch' section with a picture of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.

The 'Policy Watch' piece on the lack of a central intelligence agency was one of the more interesting pieces in the issue.

It was also interesting to see who advertised in the magazine. Unsurprisingly there were a few state-owned organisations.

The National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC) was created under the Ministry of Urban Development.

A television series on the struggles of Muslim women that airs on public broadcaster Doordarshan. The show is the brainchild of Bureaucracy Today's editor-in-chief Suhaib Ilyasi.

It also had an HP ad.

This call for ads seems a bit tacky.

The 'Technocrat of the month'.

More bureaucrats, more photos of people sitting or standing.

More guest columns.

The 'Executive Digest' which includes job openings and more recent appointments.

A slightly more bizarre part of BT includes messages for Bureaucrats from family members.

And of course, horoscopes for Bureaucrats. Many Indians take astrology very seriously.

Now take a look at the lives of India's illegal coal miners...

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