Archive for September, 2010

The Indian Film Industry

Posted by on Sep-25-2010

Indian films have gone beyond the geographical boundaries. They have come out of the age of love and fantasy and learnt to work on experimental plots. Globalization has affected not only Bollywood but also the regional film industries of the country. And as a result they are making profit even outside the home market. Many industrial giants are interested to invest in the Indian Film Industry and the Indian films are attracting foreign producers and directors to the Industry.

Film making began in India when Dadasaheb Phalke made the first Indian feature film ‘Raja Harishchandra’ which was released in 1913. He was inspired to make the movie after watching ‘Life of Christ’ Mehta’s American-Indian cinema. ‘Raja Harishchandra’ was based on a story from the ‘Mahabharata’ it was a stirring film concerned with honor, sacrifices and mighty deeds. From then many mythological movies were made.

The advent of sound in movies was a major contribution. It brought an immediate difference. Alam Ara, released in 1931 was India’s first talkie and it was dubbed in into Hindi and Urdu. As the time passed, there were many changes and experiments brought into the Indian cinema. The technological advancement over time has raised the quality and standard of the movies.

The globalization of Indian Film Industry began in the late 20th century. In late 1920, almost 80 percent films shown in India were American but today around 80 percent of Indian movies are released worldwide. Indian movies have found huge markets abroad. Indian films are not just a part of a region but have become a part of world cinema. So the film makers are finding new ways at reaching out to a wider audience. Globalization has proved very beneficial to the Indian Film Industry.

Family Oriented Political Spectrum

Posted by on Sep-18-2010

In my earlier posts I have already mentioned about the political dynasties in India so this time I would rather discuss about political dynasties in other countries. If we look around we can find many examples of dynasty politics. Political dynasties are not limited to India, but its spread across the world. In the developing countries, elected political dynasties have been rather common. There is no boundary for political dynasties. Even industrialized democracies are not immune to dynasty politics.

In South Asia it has been common for a spouse or child to inherit a political office. In Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari joined the people’s party. The whole world raised its eyebrows when a 19-year-old Oxford student was chosen to be the leader of Pakistan People’s Party. But it’s not a surprise as Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was only following the footsteps of his murdered mother, Benazir Bhutto, who took over the party after her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s. Similarly, in Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia followed the footsteps of Benazir Bhutto Zardari, when her husband, President Ziaur Rahman, was assassinated in 1981. Though she had little interest in politics she was chosen to lead the nation by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Such dynasties are quite common in American state and local politics as well. In America, John Ashcroft became the first senator to be defeated by a dead man, Mel Carnahan, who died a couple of weeks before the 2000 election, but whose name remained on the ballot and his widow, Jean, took his Senate seat. It is Hillary Clinton, however, who provides the best example of dynastic politics. She is the candidate of the Democratic establishment seeking a restoration because of her husband’s eight years in politics.

The dynastic tradition is widespread in politics. Political Parties often come to be seen as reflecting the will of one powerful personality whose successors view the party as their personal property. The pattern is familiar. The progenitor dominates the party, and the faithful hope to find spiritual continuity with family heirs becoming political successors. Sometimes these dynasties find successors that are equal to the task and sometimes not.

In my last post I have mentioned about dynasty politics. But I feel, more I think about it I have more to speak on it.

In the developing world, elected political dynasties have been rather common, a generally accepted feature of the political horizon. There are millions in this country more intelligent and smarter than the so called party successors. But what are the causes behind the emergence of political dynasties, and why do they remain resilient for decades, sometimes generations, even in democratic societies? It’s difficult to find a cut and right answer for this but some explanations could be easier to understand.

The first and the foremost factor that provide access to the political system is money, which is necessary for each and every step till the final election. Access to the political system in most countries is costly in terms of money and only those who can afford to spare time, money, resources and have the requisite connections find an entry into what is often an exclusive if not closed club.

The second thing which I feel is the “Brand Name”. Like some corporate brands, the voters too trust political brand names like Gandhis for congress. Voters have a feudalistic mindset and feel comfortable with being “ruled” by families. In fact they start associating powerful political families with royalty. The family name is what inspires the awe, not individual merit. Some voters actually believe that the individuals of the family are somehow better than the others standing for election.

But how can we overcome these problems? Here are some of the things that I feel are necessary to help voters pick the right candidate. If a voter has to select the right candidate, he must know about them. The government should be more transparent and should provide information on the status of various schemes, their funding and their execution and the people in-charge through media. This would perhaps give the voters a chance to think and choose.

Political dynasties can be prevented but those methods remain just as words unless it’s practiced. The first thing to be done is the dynasty ruler himself should insist that his relative starts at the bottom step. Internal elections should be held within the party. Minimum qualifications and other criteria of merit should be adhered for appointment of ministers.

Some claim that there is no reason to make a big fuss about dynasties because even America has dynasty politics. Political dynasties not limited to India alone, but it’s everywhere. In my next post I would discuss on the political dynasties in other countries.

The British effectively got rid of dynasties in India and India was headed towards being a true democracy with elected officials. India is the largest democracy in the world. India has the biggest number of people with franchise rights and the largest number of political parties, which take part in election campaign. Though the British soon got rid of the dynasty, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new dynasty came alive in India. A dynasty with such chosen few that even a great soul cannot break into its ranks.

We define dynasty politics as the growing practice of close relatives or family members of established politicians stepping into the political arena and making a mockery of democracy. The number of relatives attached to the politicians reminds me of Bollywood where the son or daughter turns out as an actor and talent is given least preference. Talent takes the back seat and bias rules.

India is a fast growing political dynasty, whether it is the Gandhis, Karunanidhis or the Scindias. All you got to possess is a big and famous name and then even with no prior experience in governance or an age to match you can aspire to be the one calling the shots in a political party. But the question is what gives rise to dynasty politics in India. The political dynasties are perpetuated because voters vote them in and the party members elevate them to great heights.

Voters are now not able to distinguish between the party and the family name where individual merit is not considered important. The family name has now become synonymous with the party like the Gandhis associated with Congress or the Karunanidhi family associated with the DMK. Dynasty politics is an indicator of weak political systems, where politics is dominated by individuals rather than strong political institutions. We may lift our eyebrows thinking how by birth a person can be a successful politician. The only qualification you need to have is “Is your father, mother or relative a politician?” if the answer is yes, then you are the right candidate.

The fact remains that dynasty politics is an irony considering that India is the world’s largest democracy. Family members of politicians often get a good response among the public. The independent political members or the individual candidate fail to reach the audience as they get pushed away by dynasty politicians. Many a times they fail as the campaign and the press coverage associated with the party campaign demands money which they lack to gather.