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Cultural Innovation: British Council launches £50,000 seed fund to boost India-UK Cultural Ties

It is a culmination of a five year programme that aims to introduce an enthusiastic Indian audience to the best contemporary arts of UK

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  • British Council India is investing £50,000 in a one of its kind cultural project
  • It is a culmination of a five year programme that aims to introduce an enthusiastic Indian audience to the best contemporary arts of UK
  • PM Narendra Modi and PM David Cameron announced a year long programme in 2017

In an attempt to strengthen the cultural ties between the nations of UK and India, British Council, India is funding a one of its kind cultural project. It plans on investing £50,000 (Rs 50 lakh approximately) in this project. In this innovation funding, the Council will select five projects by the end of July 2016. It will invest £10,000 in seed funding of each project.

In the Open Call, the details of the funding have been provided clearly. They are claiming that this is a culmination of a five year programme that aims to introduce an enthusiastic Indian audience to the best contemporary arts of UK. They have an ambitious aim for online audience, which are 10 million people in 2016 and 50 million people in 2017.

In the eligibility criteria, they’ve mentioned that the participant should be based in UK or India. He or she should have a track record of creating new digital projects or successful experiences that have reached new audiences. They have specified that it is acceptable if the audience that had been reached before had not been of the scale that the British Council is currently aiming for.

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“We want to have ideas from India and Britain and bring those ideas together to make brilliant new things. In return for this seed funding, we would like to see a prototype or proof of concept of your project that we can test with potential audiences in September and October 2016. Following user testing in autumn, we will make a number of commissions based on potential audiences and costs of projects. Full commissions must launch during 2017” said Alan Gemmell, director of British Council, reports business-standard.com.

Noon, UK time, Friday 08 July 2016 has been declared as the deadline for submission of applications.

The British Council is partnering with Manchester International Festival on a digital co-commission for 2017. If the project submitted to this open call is selected, it will be launched during the festival in June/July 2016.

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's walks with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron as they leave 10 Downing Street after their meeting, in London, November 12, 2015. Photo: Reuters
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s walks with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron as they leave 10 Downing Street after their meeting, in London, November 12, 2015. Photo: Reuters

During the November 2015 visit of PM Narendra Modi to London, he and PM David Cameron has announced a year long programme in 2017. It is to celebrate the cultural ties between the two countries and the 70th year of independence for India.

According to business-standard.com, Gemmell added: “With the British Council, we believe that culture has a powerful role to play in helping people understand one another. India’s cultural relationship with Britain is incredibly important. We want to develop stronger cultural relations between Britain and India. We want to celebrate, reconnect, revive and inspire the next generation of people culturally. We want to develop stronger cultural relations between Britain and India.”

The British Council is one of UK’s international organisations that take various measures to strengthen the cultural ties between different nations. It also works at providing educational opportunities to the masses.

-The report is compiled by a Staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This initiative taken by both the countries is really good. It gives the participants the encouragement and self confidence. Plus, the mix of various culture

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How telecom has become driver of economic change in India

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The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front.
The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. Wikimedia Commons
  • India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution
  • The sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991
  • India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world

For the most part of human history, the change was glacial in pace. It was quite safe to assume that the world at the time of your death would look pretty much similar to the one at the time of your birth. That is no longer the case, and the pace of change seems to be growing exponentially. Futurist Ray Kurzweil put it succinctly when he wrote in 2001: “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” Since the time of his writing, a lot has changed, especially with the advent of the internet.

India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution. The country’s hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. In fact, according to Reserve Bank of India data, the sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991, growing by over 10 percent. On the other hand, no other sector has had a productivity growth of above five percent during the same period. It is no wonder that it has also been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Indian economy, growing at over seven percent in the last decade itself.

Also Read: Social Media in India: Understanding The Dynamics of ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’

Such an unprecedented pace of growth has been brought about the precise levels of change that Kurzweil was so enthusiastic about. Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Meanwhile, India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world, which has hit rock bottom after the entry of Reliance Jio. This has ensured access to those even at the bottom of the pyramid.

A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country.
A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. Wikimedia Commons

Even though consumers have come to be accustomed to fast-paced changes within the telecom sector, the entry of Jio altered the face of the industry like never before by changing the very basis of competition. Data became the focal point of competition for an industry that derived over 75 percent of its revenue from voice. It was quite obvious that there would be immediate economic effects due to it. Now that we’re nearing a year of Jio’s paid operations, during which time it has even become profitable, we saw it fit to quantify its socio-economic impact on the country. Three broad takeaways need to be highlighted.

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First, the most evident effect has been the rise in affordability of calling and data services. Voice services have become practically costless while data prices have dropped from an average of Rs 152 per GB to lower than Rs 10 per GB. Such a drastic reduction in data prices has not only brought the internet within the reach of a larger proportion of the Indian population but has also allowed newer segments of society to use and experience it for the first time. Since the monthly saving of an average internet user came out to be Rs 142 per month (taking a conservative estimate that the consumer is still using 1 GB of data each month) and there are about 350 million mobile internet users in the country (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data), the yearly financial savings for the entire country comes out to be Rs 60,000 crore.

To put things in perspective, this amount is more than four times the entire GDP of Bhutan. Therefore, mere savings by the consumer on data has been at astonishing proportions.

Today's smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons
Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons

Now, this data has been used for services that have brought to life a thriving app economy within the country. So, the second level of impact has been in the redressal of a variety of consumer needs — ranging from education, health and entertainment to banking. For instance, students in remote areas can now access online courseware and small businesses can access newer markets. Information asymmetry has been considerably reduced.

Third, a rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. These effects arise not merely from the creation of an internet economy, but also due to the synergy effects it generates. Information becomes more accessible and communication a lot easier. Businesses find it easier to operate and access consumers. Labour working in cities has to make less frequent trips home and becomes more productive as a result. Education and health services become available in inaccessible locations. Multiple avenues open up for knowledge and skill enhancement.

Also Read: Facebook to ‘Signal’ news gathering for journos

An econometric analysis for the Indian economy showed that the 15 percent increase in internet penetration due to Jio and the spill-over effects it creates will raise the per capita levels of the country’s GDP by 5.85 percent, provided all else remains constant.

Thus, India’s telecom sector will continue to drive the economy forward, at least in the short run, and hopefully catapult India into 20,000 years of progress within this century, as Kurzweil postulated. The best approach for the state would be to ensure the environment of unfettered competition within the industry. Maybe other sectors of the economy ought to take a leaf out of the telecom growth story. The Indian banking sector comes to mind. However, that is a topic for another day. (IANS)

(Amit Kapoor is Chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India. He can be contacted at Amit. Kapoor@competitiveness.in and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, a senior researcher at the institute, has contributed to the article.)