Future of Creative India lies in its past

Reviving Indian cultural goods and making them commercially viable will boost jobs and entrepreneurship

India has thrived on its creative economy since time immemorial, only to lose it all, in a space of the last 150 years. If we take an example of just the textile industry, we had a share of about 30 per cent in the global trade until late 19th century. This is now down to less than 5 per cent. The place of pride we once held is now just visible in museums, whether it is the 3,500 years old terracotta handspine at Lothal in Gujarat or the legendary transparency of the Indian muslin housed at London’s V&A museum.

The question facing us as Indians today is will we continue to play the cost game with generic products? Will we remain a factory to the world? Or can we hope to make a significant difference in the lives of our citizens, especially the most creative at the bottom of the pyramid. If that hope is real, we would need to restore and leverage our unique creative advantages and build value added business propositions.

In order to do that, we need to look into and learn from our past, trace back the journey and take the faster, more sustainable route to the future. Let us take examples of two plants that Indian textile trade rested on, Cotton and Indigo.

The cotton example

At the time of independence, 98 per cent of the cotton grown in India was the desi variety. Today, it is less than 2 per cent. As the industrial spinning mills in India emerged to help meet the needs of a large population, they needed more production-friendly cotton with longer staple lengths that desi varieties could not provide.

However, this transition happened without paying attention to our unique local semi-industrial ecosystem and we lost our ability to produce yarns and fabrics that nobody else in the world could or can. Up until the late 19th century, we were producing very fine hand spun and hand woven fabrics from the same short staple desicotton varieties. But instead of simultaneously developing technology to support desi cotton, our industry and research institutes (even post-independence) chose to abandon that direction to focus entirely on hybrid and BT cotton.

The indigo story

The second example is of the Indigo dye. Such was our claim to its provenance, that even the term ‘Indigo’ itself is derived from its Indian roots that meant “Indian” or “Indian Ink”. No surprise then that we had near monopoly in the world. We, however, lost our place to the German chemical version, which was much cheaper and the natural medicinal properties of Indigo that permitted miners to live in their jeans for days, was lost to the world.

While these are references from the past, clues on how we could turn these two crops back into a strong and scalable competitive advantage, also reside in our economic history. History has a habit of repeating itself. But only the bad things repeat themselves on their own. Good things, if relevant to current times, need to be cajoled back.

It is in our interest to think of ways how we can revive and accelerate the creative economy, more for commercial reasons than patriotic ones. A strong creative economy will not only provide a strong sense of identity to the future generations, but also generate employment at the grassroots level. But such a revival requires young entrepreneurs to come forward and reclaim the lost traditions and re-establish some of these missing links. There are multiple ways this can be achieved.

For example, we need to invest in finding innovative ways to mechanise post-harvest processes to enable spinning of the very short staple desi cotton. Once the link between the farmer growing desi cotton and the handloom weaver is re-established, the economic value chain will be active again. The small and marginal farmers have natural proclivity towards desi cotton due to their hardiness and low cost.

An assured market would be the only incentive they would need. Such incentives will lead to production of desi cotton on large scale, resulting in yarns that are uniquely Indian and can only be woven on the gentleness of a handloom. This would also render redundant, the questions around the relevance of handlooms in current times.

Likewise, natural indigo is like wine. Production of indigo relies on the characteristics of the soil, micro-climate in the region, skills of the farmer to extract dye, the local water quality and the dyeing techniques. No two lots dye the same, no two regions or tracts of land produce same quality, depth or shades of the colour. Just how wines from different regions have different “tastes”. So while dyers using synthetic indigo will produce a standard product, natural indigo users could produce fine wine like Chateau Margaux!

A combination of fabric made from desi cotton and dyed with natural indigo can recreate the magic of Indianness that is lost in time. Imagine a beautifully textured canvas in the hands of skillful and creative indigo artists. Where else in the world could this happen?

It is time that the current generation of creative entrepreneurs, many with the finest of design education in the world, exposure to global markets and a strong desire to work with Indian artisanal heritage find their own expressions with these two magic crops, to drive not just ‘Make in India’ but also ‘Create in India’.

Some brands like ‘Pero’, ‘11.11’ and ‘Maku’ have made exciting beginnings. Likes of Probiotics in Auroville, who have even created a unique anti-septic, anti-oxidant bath bar from the indigo plant provide an inspiration for many others to follow in their steps. We also have numerous organisations spearheading efforts in support. Malkha, Selco Foundation, Asal and Khamir are coming forward to finding real solutions to building the broken desi cotton value chain.

A beginning has been made, but there are miles to go. This requires a collective effort not only from the ecosystem partners and government, but also from customers. A first step could be recognising the beauty and relevance of Indian cultural goods in contemporary times. Ask not just what the world has to bring to us but what we have to bring to the world.

Anchal is an advisor, teacher and mentor specialising in creative and cultural industries, and an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad. Amit Karna is Associate Professor of Strategy and Innovation at IIM Ahmedabad. They together offer the creative and cultural businesses programme for entrepreneurs and industry at IIM-A.

[“source=thehindubusinessline”]

‘The Division 2’ Restarts Its ‘PvE Dark Zone’ Debate With The Arrival Of 515 Gear

The Division 2

I thought we would be having this conversation again at some point after The Division 2’s launch, but I didn’t think it would be this soon, or for this reason.

Massive recently introduced 515 Gearscore gear, over the current cap of 500, to drop in the Dark Zone. While 515 gear will join it when the raid arrives, many players are upset that they are being forced to travel to the DZ as the only place to farm this gear as it’s something that doesn’t interest them, at least not in its current form.

This has resparked a very old debate, one from the early days of The Division 1, where there’s an idea that there should be a PvE version of the Dark Zone free from Rogues and gank squads, so people can explore and farm these areas without being bothered by other players when they have no interest in PvP.

The counterpoint to this is that removing PvP and Rogue would destroy the entire concept of the mode, and people just need to “get good” if they want to survive in what is supposed to be the most harrowing zone on the map. This is roughly the position that Massive has taken as well, as despite all the requests for a PvE Dark Zone in The Division 1, that never happened.

The Division 2

The Division 2

MASSIVE

Instead, what we saw was kind of alternative for PvP-focused players rather than the thing PvE players wanted. That’s how we have Conflict, a dedicated PvP experience which improves PvP play for those who were tired of trying to kill enemies in the Dark Zone who didn’t want to fight at all and just wanted to run and be left alone. But the PvPvE element of the Dark Zone remains, and now some people are getting annoyed by it once more.

It may not surprise you to learn that I am on the side of “yes, the Dark Zone would benefit from a PvE option.” I don’t think you need to remove the PvPvE mode that currently exists for the game. Those that like that aspect can still play it, but offering a PvE version has too many upsides to ignore. I know plenty of players that have not even done so much as the intro quest for the Dark Zone because they remembered how much they disliked it in The Division 1. I did the intro quest and got up to level 10 or 15 or so in the DZ, but I haven’t been back since for the same reasons. I have no real interest in fighting other players, be it well-geared adversaries or easily killable noobs. I have no interest in farming for loot only to end up losing it because of ganks or other mishaps. And so I farm activities that are more reliable, won’t pit me against other players and don’t have the risk of losing anything. But I would love to explore an additional 25-30% of the map in the Dark Zone areas with a PvE version of the DZ, because otherwise it’s just wasted space to me. This was also true of the first game where the DZ was even larger and kept getting larger with future updates.

There is always a hardcore contingent of Dark Zone players who push back on all this, but I am genuinely unsure of what they’d lose if PvE was just an option for the Dark Zone. Players who like the current Dark Zone could still queue up for that version. To me, this is more about denying players zones and loot they haven’t “earned” because they can’t stand the heat of the “real” Dark Zone which is stupid gatekeeping I don’t respect or appreciate.

The Division 2

The Division 2

MASSIVE

I have no way of checking this, so far as I can tell, but I am willing to bet that as vocal as the hardcore Dark Zone community is, the DZ has a fraction of the players of the larger PvE world, and probably only a fraction of those actively want to be there and would care if there was a PvP option. I think there’s a reason that Massive put 515 gear in the Dark Zone, because they’re trying to lure people to actually play it. Right now, tons and tons of people are avoiding it completely because it’s much easier to queue up for missions or bounties or strongholds with a more straightforward path to loot, working with other players rather than against them. And if they do want to fight other people? That’s what Conflict is for, and that too comes with no risk of surprise attacks and lost loot.

The Dark Zone has always been Massive’s pet project, the concept that was supposed to make The Division stand out compared to its competition. And yet it has always remained my least favorite aspect of the game, and that has not changed in the sequel. If we didn’t see a PvE Dark Zone in all the years of The Division 1 doubt we’ll see one now, but I think it’s a bad path forward for Massive to try and simply bribe people to play the DZ when clearly something is gone wrong if they have to do that in the first place.

[“source=forbes”]

KFC is asking consumers to fund its creative

Image result for KFC is asking consumers to fund its creativeKFC is taking a new approach to its marketing: crowdfunding.

For its latest stunt, the fast-food chain is asking people to pitch in and fund, via Indiegogo, one of five ideas in a so-called Innovation Lab. Customers can also offer creative advice. (Well, they are forking over money).

Should a project become fully backed by supporters, KFC will produce the funded idea. For smaller contributions, the company is offering KFC Innovations Lab-branded swag, such as sweatpants or a … 3-D puffy sticker pack. If a project doesn’t reach its target goal, all contributions will be refunded to individual supporters.

The ideas that people can contribute to include “Kentucky Fried Hot Tub,” which, as of Tuesday afternoon, had raised $95.

Another is “Colonel on Ice,” an ice-skating show that would tell the story of how Colonel Harland Sanders founded the chain with only a 6th-grade education ($45 so far).Image result for KFC is asking consumers to fund its creative

People into geo-tracking might be drawn to “Little Colonel Locator,” which as of Tuesday afternoon had raised nearly $600. It features a location-tracking necktie (it works if the person wearing it is within 100 feet of a smartphone).

KFC worked on the lab with its agency, Wieden & Kennedy Portland.

The chain is already well known for stunts. It’s currently running a campaign featuring Colonel Sanders as RoboCop to protect its secret recipe. It has even offered free bowl haircuts in Brooklyn, New York to promote its $3 Famous Bowls meals. And it has created items such as Colonel Sanders-styled pool floaties and a log that smells like fried chicken while it’s burning.

[“source=adageindia”]

Now Paytm Money users can track all their mutual fund investments on its app; claims over 1 million customers

Mutual Fund, Mutual Fund Performance In 2018, Equity Mutual Fund, Large Cap, Mid Cap, Small Cap, ELSS, Top Gainers Fund, Top Losers Fund

Paytm Money claimed of registering over 1 million users within six months of launch.

Popular online payment platform Paytm has said that its users would now be able to track the performance of their mutual fund investments on its subsidiary portal Paytm Money for free.

Investors would have to upload their Consolidated Account Statement (CAS) generated via Karvy Fintech on Paytm Money to track their all investments in their portfolio on the Paytm Money app, the company said in a statement.

Paytm Money claimed of registering over 1 million users within six months of launch.

Mutual fund investors putting their money via multiple channels including asset management companies, banks, advisors and distributors don’t get to look at the performance of their investments cohesively under a single platform.

Investors who haven’t invested via Paytm Money app can also track their daily portfolio performance irrespective of their channel or the mode of investment.

“We received many requests & feedback from Paytm Money users to be able to import their external investments to our platform. This assists an investor in keeping track of all investments in one place, further helping in their investment decisions,” said Paytm Money whole-time director Pravin Jadhav.

Paytm Money claimed to have partnered with 34 asset management companies covering over 94% AUM of the mutual fund industry.

Paytm’s mutual fund arm operates from Bengaluru and has a team of over 250 members Paytm Money, which aims to become a full-stack investment and wealth management services company, offer users mutual fund investments starting with Rs 100 via systematic investment plan or lump sum mode.

Recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Paytm’s chief financial officer said that the company is looking at expanding to 1-2 more developed markets this year. He told Reuters that the company has already found its footing in Canada and Japan while many of its commerce and financial services businesses have started to generate revenue and profits.

The company is also reportedly planning to expand into lending and credit cards services.

[“source=financialexpress”]