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The mainstreaming of Film, Media & Entertainment Education in India

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Film, Media & Entertainment Education in India and why we need to have a framework for the same

Education in India is heavily fragmented. Especially Higher & Technical Education. A large part of this education is under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and is administered through the UGC & the AICTE. However, certain specialised areas of education are kept out of the MHRD’s mandate and are in the ambit of the respective ministries that deal with the industry. The reason for this is because all these sectors have a need for significant sector-specific unique education & training and the respective ministries were deemed fit to create the framework for such education.

So, Medical education has been under the Medical Council of India which is a part of the Health Ministry, Education in Law is under the Bar Council of India which is under the Law Ministry, Education in Chartered Accountancy is handled by the ICAI which is under the Finance Ministry, and so on…

Similarly, education in Film, Media, Communication, Design, Music, Animation, Gaming, Liberal Arts, etc. has been put under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

All ministries (other than I&B) have set up a specialised educational framework for higher & technical education in its sector and administered the same for several years (decades). Programs like MBBS, MD, MS, LLB, LLM, Chartered Accountancy, etc. are outputs of such educational policy framework. This educational framework has been created keeping in mind the specialised / unique nature of the education as needed in each industry vertical, at both the graduate & post-graduate levels. This framework is to be followed by both government & private institutions / universities. Over the decades, we have seen significant growth / development of education in these sectors with multiple government & private institutions being set up to cater to such specialised education.

However, as far as the Information & Broadcasting Industry is concerned, there is no framework. None has ever been created for specialised higher & technical education in the sector. The government has simply set up academically autonomous but government-funded institutions like FTII, SRFTI, IIMC & NID, without any overarching educational policy framework for specialised education in the sector.

This has left no scope for private institutions that would be keen to set up specialised institutions to cater to the higher & technical education needs of the Media & Entertainment industry. This has created a situation where Film education has never been mainstreamed in India.

Going by global norms, Film Education would be covered under a Bachelors of Fine Arts / Masters of Fine Arts educational framework with a graduate program of 4 years and a post-graduate program of 2 or 3 years. None such exists in India.

Can you imagine a scenario where Medical Education in India did not have a framework and the government had simply set up a bunch of institutions for the same and walked away? In such a situation, would India have had the high quality and plurality of doctors that we have now, or that we would be as large a medical tourism destination as we are now?

Or can you imagine what would our judicial system have been had there not been a framework for Law education in India?

If these situations are unimaginable, then how have we as a country been ok with no framework for Film, Media & Entertainment education?

There are several private institutions, which are of the highest quality today undertaking education in the Film, Media & Entertainment industry. Some of them are highly rated globally as well. However, they have not had a framework to operate under. This unfortunate situation has ended up with them trying to fit their highly-specialised & customized education into the educational straight-jacketed regulations of the UGC & AICTE of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, in order to accord undergraduate / post-graduate educational degrees to students.

Clearly, this should be unacceptable to us. A sector that needs specialised education (and hence is a subject of the I&B ministry) has no framework, no guidelines and is hence left out of the mainstream of education in India. This is also the reason why there are so few world-class institutions for such education in India. That is the reason that the % of formally trained people in our film industry is less than 15%. That is the reason why overall quality of our films is abysmal when compared globally. This is reflected in the fact that despite having 1/6th of the total world’s population and 1/17th of the world’s economy, the Indian Media & Entertainment has less than 1/100th of the world’s Media & Entertainment industry marketshare. We do not make films that appeal to the rest of the world and leave out a huge market from our viewing audience. 70% of Hollywood’s revenue comes from outside the US. Only 10% of our revenue comes from outside India. And 95% of that 10% comes from Indian diaspora viewers. We are unable to reach out across cultures and tell our stories to the world in a universally acceptable entertaining & engaging manner. There are, of-course outliers to this norm, like Lunchbox or 3Idiots or Dangal, which travel rather well too.

The Indian Film, TV & Media Arts industry is India’s biggest cultural ambassador entrusted with the task of spreading Indian culture & values globally and it does not have an official educational framework to operate in.

The Indian Media & Entertainment Industry today:

  • Valued at over Rs 1,26,200Cr (US$ 19.1billion)
  • Is expected to grow at a rate of 14% from 2016-21 to reach Rs 2,50,000Cr by 2021
  • Films: 1400+ films a year; 2000 multiplexes & 7000 single screens
  • Television: 168 million television households (2nd after China); 800+ Channels
  • Animation, VFX & Post-Production to grow by over 17% over the next 5 years from Rs 6,000Cr to Rs 13,200Cr.
  • Gaming to reach over Rs 7,000Cr by 2021.
  • Music: will double from Rs 1,200Cr to Rs 2,500Cr in 5 years
  • Digital content: over 300 million internet users; industry expected to grow 4 times in the next 5 years, from Rs 7,700Cr in 2016 to Rs 29,400Cr in 2021
  • Print: 1,00,700 newspapers
  • Radio: will double from Rs 2,300Cr to Rs 4,800Cr in 5 years
  • Live Events and Sports Leagues are growing rapidly – the IPL is the 4th most valued league in the world.
  • Theme Parks: To grow from Rs 2,930Cr to Rs 7,000Cr by 2021 with a 19.1% CAGR

Employment in M&E
As per the NSDC, by 2022, the Media & Entertainment industry would be requiring 16.5 lakh professionals, 85% of these in the Film, TV & Digital verticals.
Significant government-intervention and private investments will be needed to correct this imbalance

Realistically, there are only 3-4 genuine film schools in India - Whistling Woods International, FTII Pune, SRFTI Kolkata & The Adyar Film Institute. There are a few others, but none that offer programs as immersive or intensive as a genuine film school should be.

FTII & SRFTI are government-run & subsidised film schools. The government spends over 50Cr each year on both of those schools. Both these schools have an output of between 40-60 students each year. However, over the years, efficiency has been a problem with FTII Pune, with a 3-yr program taking between 5-6 years to be completed. Whistling Woods, on an average, has been graduating approx. 100-125 film students each year. From 2019, this number will become 225-250.

India needs 5-times as many film graduates each year as we have now, at the minimum.

INDIA’S FILM EDUCATION SCENARIO

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