Archive for the ‘Business of Entertainment’ Category

Mohammad Yunus and Social Bussiness. Poor people are more socially conscious and honest.

Spent a day in a discussion and conference with this amazing man. Prof or Doctor, whatever adjective you want to give him, Mohammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and many other Grameen Enterprises has changed and continues to change the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh and all over the world. Bringing people out of abject poverty and hopelessness into a life filled with hope, enterprise and dignity.
Grameen Bank has consistently lent money to those that not only banks would not entertain, but you would not let into your homes. Destitute women, (90% of all loans are to women include some that had never touched money before), beggars from the streets encouraging and funding them to turn into door to door salesmen.
For every problem, Prof Yunus has a socially meaningful and an amazingly creative solution. He turns the problem into a paradox and then upside down to find a solution. When the kids who were educated through the raising of standards of living by Grameen Bank loans found they could not get jobs, Prof Yunus started to think of solutions to unemployment. He thought their were not enough employers then !!!
“I went to the kids of the families that had grown prosperous through their relationship with Grameen Bank and said :: How many people can say that their mother’s owned a bank ? ”
The Bank is owned by the women (mostly) that borrowed and returned money. He then loaned their kids money to start businesses to generate employment. He effectively turned job seekers into job creators through loaning money to what he effectively calls his 10 million strong family. And to those that wonder, Grameen Bank has the lowest rate of non – repayment of loans anywhere in the world. A record of 95% good debts. A startling proof that honesty and social consciousness if far far higher in the poor than in the rich.
Prof Yunus now is on a mission to inculcate the same values in the corporate world. The values that he found in the poorest and the most downtrodden in the world. He wants to encourage and create Social Business. He does not want, and never has, encouraged charity. For he believes in sustainable business models and feels charity is not sustainable.
All he wants is for enterprises to understand that it is possible to make a difference by ploughing back the profits of your enterprise into the community, once again, not in charity, but in viable creation of social enterprises. Danone (the food and water co) for example has already started to produce yoghurt (Dahi) in Bangladesh that goes out to school kids that is specially formatted to include all the nutrition a child needs in a day. The factories are small scale enterprises spread in the countryside so they are not heavy on the environment, and the milk can come from local farmers and does not need to travel large distances. The technology was developed at Danone in France in collaboration with Grameen engineers, and the price of the nutritious youghurt is such that almost anyone can afford it at least twice a week.
Danone makes money, they show profits after all expenses. It’s just that they do not take the profits out, but plough it back in to the community. Prof Yunus is now, on a campaign to spread this to the rest of the world.
He and I are talking about a Social Media business. Any suggestions ?

Copyright is ‘Right to Copy’ : Wisdom of Collective Conciousness

That is not as foolish a statement as you might believe. Imagine a world in which all of the basic Raga’s of Indian music were copyrighted ? Most of our Indian film composer would be lost without them.
Where would the world be if Einstein’s equations or other scientific/medical knowledge were copyrighted. Where would Hinduism be if the Bhagvad Geeta was copyrighted. Or the Mahabharath. What if the Koran or the Bible were copyrighted ? Or Buddha’s teachings. What if all of Ayurveda and all of scientific discovery was copyrighted. The arguments against IP in life saving drugs for HIV have been well documented. The price demanded for such drugs is out of reach of those that are dying of HIV. Thank god for companies like CIPLA that refuse to bow down to international pressure and make the drugs available at affordable costs. Of course they are flouting international laws, but who’s laws ? Can there be a fundamental law against saving the lives of millions of people ?
Traditionally India has been a society that looked at Arts and all Knowledge as something meant to be shared with the human race. Really well argued in : (thank u for the lead, Kavitha).
I also believe that all imagination is born out of a Collective Consciousness. Nothing is imagined or created out of singularity or in isolation. People’s consciousness moves to a particular need and creativity is provoked. An ecosystem of creativity is created. Why else did the 60’s and 70’s give rise to such incredible creativity in pop music ? Ideas are born out of existing ideas. Innovation comes out of provocation and need and borrowed ideas too. If we block that flow, all innovation and creativity wll cease.
However we accept that we live in a modern world and artists and researchers should no longer be doomed to a life of penury or poverty. There are not many Akbar’s around to support a Tansen. The argument for IP (Intellectual Property) are strong. The fundamental one being that IP protection is essential for innovation, both artistic and scientific. It costs billions to develop a new drug and millions to produce a film. And innovation would not happen if IP is not protected and financially valuable.
So the fundamental argument is not creative but financial and I can understand that. I make my living because what I create has financial value through some kind of value given to it’s IP and copyright. However I do believe that this is a chicken and egg situation. The more IP protection we give in to, the more expensive it becomes to create. Why should it cost 100’s of millions of dollars in Hollywood to make a film, or billions of dollars to create a new drug ? Because in world of Intellectual Property we are also creating and protecting hugely disproportionate returns to a a very few people who feed off this very protection.
However we need to find a balance, otherwise the very idea of Copyright and Intellectual Property will go against it’s very reason to be. Which is to provoke Creativity and Innovation.

New directions in China : time for the Dragon and the Elephant to dance together ?

I have been in Beijing for the last 3 days, attending and speaking at a conference on the creative industries. Now I will take a day off to go to spend the day at the Beijing Film Academy and the Institute of Fine arts. I really enjoy being in Beijing, and its not just the food ! Its the architecture, its the warmth of their people and the sheer pleasure of interacting with a culture that is as ancient and as mythical as our own.
On the point of culture, China has now decided the next area of economic growth is in the fields of culture and the creative industries. And as China is prone to do, it stops at nothing to implement its plans and all over China new townships are sprouting up dedicated to the development of art, design, animation, film, literature and publishing and encompassing all of what the new media has to offer such as video gaming etc. The thrust is now to extend this idea of creativity into pushing for originality to be created and owned internally in all fields, rather than become the worlds largest outsourcing economy and the supplier of manufacturing goods to the rest fo the world based on patents or technologies bought from the western nations. Thsi is exciting and exactly the vision I have for India. There is a wealth of imagination and creativity that is sitting in both nations waiting to explode and express itself.
I have said this often – that culture defines the way we live, what we consume, how we consume it, and how we interact with the rest of the world and do business. Culture defines and underpins economic growth and any economic growth that does not take into account the culture and mythology of the people will ultimately cause huge contradictions and friction in that society.
I think the collapse of the world financial systems have been a great lesson to all of us on how a culture we all so readily accepted has come collapsing down. It is time for us to understand that we need to flow with our own paths and not so blindly accept Western ways, nor allow ourselves to be judged by Western points of view or goal posts of development. For example – what does gross domestic product really mean ? Does that mean that Tansen singing in Akbar’s court was an unproductive activity if there was no means of actually measuring its value in monetary terms ? We must now redefine how we describe the rise in wealth of our people, their happiness in terms of our culture.
It is also time for the two great cultures to come together now……


India as the world leading ‘Influence economy” ?

I was asked by the Hindustan Times to write about my perspective on the 21st century ambitions of India. Here is a transcript of the article.
“How can you define the ambitions of a collective, especially when the collective is over I billion people ? Driving towards 1.5 billion or maybe even 2 Billion if the planet can support that. For far too long India’s ambitions have been defined by the aspirations of the privileged few, almost as if at it’s center lay the ambitions of it’s feudal masters that demanded to be supported by the rest of the underclass at the cost of their own aspirations.
That is changing. And the change is going to accelerate so fast that those that have been used to privilege will be caught napping, as will the rest of the world. For this is India’s century and it will happen in-spite of the politics of India and the politicians of India. Because they will become completely irrelevant. And their irrelevance will be caused by the spread of New Media.
As fast and cheap broadband becomes available, and access to the internet reaches every home, every mobile handset in India, over a billion people no longer trapped in the cage of misinformation and ignorance will suddenly flower and explode into a fervent desire to express themselves, to educate themselves, and to take part in global culture. shaking off a century of repression and ignorance. Nation state boundaries in this century will in any case become irrelevant and will be redefined by cultural boundaries as the internet and social networking sites start to erode the very idea of emotional commitment to ‘set in stone’ physical/geographical boundaries.
So the India I am talking about is the spirit of it’s culture. Not it’s geography. It is the culture of India that will influence the rest of the world, and since culture defines how and what we consume and the way we consume and behave, it provides the very fundamentals of economic behavior and growth. This is not something that economists like to agree with because it takes away their ability to make economic projections based on simplistic equations of ‘8% growth and 12 % inflation, therefore an ‘x’ percent rate cut’ without taking into an account all of human behavior. Economics is not a compassionate science and therefore can never be quite accurate a predictor of the future. Never has.
Consider this…..


Virtual reality, social networking, new media. The future

None of us really know do we ? And the great thing is that not knowing is s exciting. In discovering and exploring lies the adventure of life. The following is the text of my address at the future of New Media, Social Networking and virtual reality in Melbourne conference. The 3 day conference and mentoring session was organized by the Xmedia Lab. Where I am part of a team of international mentors, who mentor new enterprises in this space all over the world. For me its a great learning process. For in the mentoring I am also catching up with with new technology and developments. And learning from people with different and more advanced skill sets than mine. Read on for the text of my presentation. I am in conversation with Brendon Harkin, one of the forces behind XMedia lab :


The New Media

Still at the New Media/Virtual worlds conference in Melbourne. I heard some amazing brains of ‘life on the other side’ – second life. I spoke about second life, new media etc too, but my talk was more of an exploration of the psychology of living in another – second life. Will write about that, but here is a sound byte interview that I did here, that I want to share with everyone. Not too deep, As I said – sound bytes.


The Goa Film Festival

In light of this continuing dialogue over child trafficking in Goa…


Nanotechnolgy 2

This is a comment from Sasikanth, a Nanotechnologist at Cornell Unversity. It would be interesting to initiate a discussion on how this new technology will affect our daily iives in all spheres. Sasikant says “Sekhar, I am a nanotechnologist at Cornell University working on technologies. Being a nanotechnology researcher I think I have to comment on this post ……


Dhoom 2

To all those Bollywood fans out there, I finally managed to get tickets for Dhoom 2 in London. It’s the only film in London other than Casino Royal that is consistently ‘house full’. The film is a lot of fun in a charmingly silly way. But I think it is time to change the name ‘Bollywood’ to ‘Bodywood’. Shekhar

Intellectual Property and Piracy

I have been both attending and speaking on conferences on the future of Media and Technology. I use the two terms together as more and more Technlogy and Entertainment/Media are converging to become the same bussiness. One thing that consistantly comes up is the question of Intellectual property and Piracy. I think the lawyers/Corporations have got it completely wrong…