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  • Raghav Sand

India Requires a New Template

Life on Earth evolves even when we are not paying attention. A template is a thing that is used as a model for producing other similar examples. The human brain has the tendency to look for an easy way to accomplish tasks. When most individuals and groups are happy to follow the tried and tested formula, visionaries look beyond the horizon and become the torch bearers of change. The timing of change is more important than its scope. The fear of failure is the foremost reason why people choose to follow the norm instead of trying something exceptional.

In the last three decades, India has made commendable progress to become self-sufficient in many sectors, while there is still some way to go before we can applaud and acknowledge our achievements. At best, the development in India has been patchy. Undoubtedly, certain regions have outperformed the rest of the country. This on and off template of development is outdated. As a nation it is important to set targets and achieve them. It will be gross injustice to the potential of our republic, if we indulge in premature celebrations.

A good leader, both at the national and state level, knows how to monitor and maneuver the morale of citizens. As chief executive of a nation, the Prime Minister has to play the role of a cheerleader and caretaker. The good stuff should not be swept under the carpet by leaders to project oneself as the messiah of the down trodden. Finding the right balance between the euphoria of success and optimism to overcome failure is the hallmark of an admirable leader.

Change is Restless!

If I were to ask you one thing that has made you proud as in Indian in the past year and a half, what would it be? For me, it is the achievement of administering hundred crore doses of vaccine in the span of nine months. Neither is this number small by any stretch of imagination, nor is the fact that we were able to produce the vaccine ourselves. The technology behind the scenes is the backbone of India’s vaccination drive for the Covid-19 virus. Now, we have to set higher targets and, as and when possible provide the doses to less impoverished nations.

The first step to solve a problem as an individual, organization or a nation is the acknowledgement of the problem. The greatest disservice to the nation as a citizen is to expect others to solve every problem. “Fear is the mind-killer; it is the little death that kills over and over. Without fear, we die but once”: Frank Herbert, in his book ‘Dune’. While trying to keep the discourse brief, let me try to enumerate and elaborate where we as a nation can try to change the template. Some of you may have your own list, and I am sure it will be worthy in its own right.

Education and Employability

As per data aggregator website statista, India produced 65 lakh (6.5 million) graduates in 2019. The corresponding figures for 2020 and 2021 are estimated to be marginally lower, but it is expected to remain in this range for the foreseeable future. How many of these individuals who have spent 15-16 years of their lives to acquire formal education are employable? Does the education system provide these young individuals necessary skills to solve problems? Unfortunately, most new graduates will not have sufficient expertise to fill the vacancies at private or government enterprises. This mismatch between supply and demand is the primary reason for uneven living standards in India.

The joint initiatives undertaken by government and industry to bridge the skill gap will bear fruit in few years. Until then, many new graduates will have to do rudimentary and low paying jobs, while a select few are chased by the head-hunters.

Movies: Get Your Act Together!

Without trying to mince words, I need to say one thing: India makes some of the most irrelevant and insignificant movies across the world. Every now and then, we get impactful content, but for a nation of billion plus people the standard of our movies is disgraceful. The pandemic has played a role in derailing the movie industry, which reduced itself to a fund aggregator. The race to hundred crore (one billion) rupees has become the focal point, while story and storytelling is being neglected methodically.

Over the top (OTT) platforms have tried their level best to fill the void and have been fairly successful. Earlier, people from metro cities used to follow movies and tv shows from outside the country, but now with the widespread use of dubbing and subtitles, Indian cinema is losing the most important constituent of events and entertainment industry: the audience. We will not be able to match technical capabilities of Hollywood movies, but we can try to recapture the craft of telling stories. For the sake of survival, India needs to produce movies that narrate human emotions.

Since the beginning of the millennium, audiences have evolved faster than content. Filmmakers need to rethink their template. Copycat stuff is singled out and trolled without regret. Some of the technical aspects of movies in India have kept pace with global benchmarks. Good cinema will always find its audience. If you are a filmmaker or aspire to become one in the future, then set aside your fear and get your act together.

Our (Limited Overs) Cricket is So Last Decade!

The viability and popularity of franchise cricket in India is off the charts. The TV ratings and advertisement revenue from Indian Premier League is touching new highs with each passing season. Astronomical bids received for two new franchises is another vote of confidence. The valuation and cash earnings for Indian cricket board might someday eclipse corresponding figures of cricket’s world governing body.

After playing two of their group matches in the ongoing men’s T20 World Cup, Indian team is on the brink of elimination. Humiliating losses against Pakistan and New Zealand exposed the outdated mindset and approach of Indian team. India’s template in limited overs cricket has remained unchanged for a long time. Countries like England have identified and deployed specialists. Without being explicit about it, teams have chosen to have only handful multi-format players; by doing so, they have consciously managed the workload. After terrible outing in important tournaments all the power and money of Indian cricket board becomes mere statistics.

In a Gist

If we are honest with each other and are ready to have an open-minded conversation, the list of activities that need a fresh template is longer than anyone of us can comprehend. For example, political and judicial activism in India needs a total revamp. The opposition and civil society have the same template as they had during the freedom struggle. As a nation we need to formulate ways to have a meaningful discourse among ourselves. The old ways were good for the struggle between the oppressed and the oppressor. Now, the debate is between fellow citizens who have the same goal. The only point of contention is the approach.

The self-anointed guardians of culture and morality need a new template as well. Pulling down advertisements which talk about diverse sexual orientation and religious tolerance can make mobsters as the poster boys of conservatism.

The best thing is to not have a template at all. Just in case you feel compelled to follow a pattern, do it wisely and make changes wherever you feel appropriate. India, don’t pretend or aspire to be like some other country, or be fooled by someone who is selling you the idea of regaining lost glory. Evolve and move into the future with a powerful and purposeful template. As Winston Churchill once said, “to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”.

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