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(Published in "Studio Systems" Nov-Dec 2000)

If I was to enumerate some of the most fortunate things to have happened to me in my life so far, one of the first things I would have to put down is to have been alive during the sixties. It was indeed a great time to have been born in and although the ‘flower power’ revolution took place many thousand of miles, its impact on my life has been tremendous and wide ranging. Not only was the music, lifestyle, clothes, etc fantastic, it’s values of freedom, peace, tolerance and the spirit of positivity will be with me forever. Its influence on me during my formative years allowed me to look at everything with fresh eyes and it continues to infuse me with incredible energy. The "hippie" revolution gave rise to some great artistes and thinkers who have now entered middle age and are part of the "establishment" and It would be shocking to see some of the business and political leaders some 25 years back in their "wild" days. A lot of the hippies of those days are now major technology leaders especially in the IT Industry and some like Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, even continue to play the guitar, have weekend bands and release their own CDs!

John Perry Barlow is one such gentleman who visited us recently and gave a lecture as part of the sponsored "Net Prophets" series. Founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation along with Mitch Kapor of Lotus, his mission is to promote freedom of expression in Digital Media. Of course what made this a must-see event for me was the fact that he is the famous Grateful Dead lyricist who has written some of the most popular songs of the famous cult rock band of the era! John visualises a world without controls and he is doing his best to educate the people of the free world to protest the involvement of governments to regulate the net and curtail the independence of the net community. One of John’s concerns was naturally the music business and he had some interesting statistics to share with us. "Last year, out of 17 billion of record sales in the US, creative talent got just 4 per cent". As a musician this was indeed a shocking revelation! John’s declaration of independence of "cyberspace", a word first used by him to describe this phenomenon, makes great reading and qualifies him as one of the great visionaries of our times. In fact, he is known as the Thomas Jefferson of our times. More Power to him! It was an incredible experience to watch this man talk about an utopia that seems so distant to the Indian who has had a history of slavery strectched over hundreds of years. As for our government, it has already moved into the IT Industry with a vengeance and has started flexing its muscles! This was one Industry which had escaped the attention of the government for so many years and this seems to have been the very reason for it’s success! The Indian people are truly enterprising and intelligent and do not need the help of these so called saviours who will only use the opportunity to garner power, money and fame. The government should only act as a facilitator and provide the infrastructure. They should charge international market rates for their services, not subsidies as Sops can only make us weak and lazy. We have incredibly slow bandwidth and Broadband should be the first priority of the government. As John was saying, there is more bandwidth in some buildings in New York than the whole nation of India!!


Another gentleman from the same era who was in the news recently was Remo, the Goan rock star. Unfortunately it was a tragic incident where three members of Remo's band died in a road accident on 19 September, a few hours after they had performed at IIT, Kanpur. Victor Alvares, Selvin Pereira and Dharmendra Hirve died immediately. The nightmare was compounded by what the singer calls the acting IIT director's hypocritical offer of condolences. It was a shattered Remo I talked to when I called up to offer my condolences. The experience was devastating and the callous attitude of the authorities to personal tragedy can be earth shattering.

It was as a young JJ Architecture student that I first met Remo in Bombay. He was then in the famous Bombay band "The Savages". There is even a Polydor recording of Remo singing "Old Turkey Buzzard", the old Jose Feliciano hit from the film "Mckenna’s Gold" from those days! It was later when he joined us to form "Brief Encounter" when we played a few months at the Blow Up discotheque in the Taj. We then went on to form a three man folk rock acoustic group and Remo, Darryl Mendonsa and I gave a lot of memorable concerts at college and music festivals. Truly a magical era where music was actually "heard" and not "seen" as it is nowadays!

Broadcast India 2000

The Technical Symposium Papers delivered by speakers from all over the world at this year’s Broadcast India 2000 exhibition in Mumbai gave all of us an indication of the progress the rest of the world has achieved in the field of Media. The sheer professionalism and perfection with which solutions are provided tells us how the west has achieved a level of excellence that somehow eludes us inspite of the sheer volume of work that we produce. Surely if we apply our talents towards the efficient use of our resources and concentrate our energies to achieve a high quality level, there is nothing that can stop us from attaining our rightful place as market leaders in the Media Industry. All that we need is intelligent application, professionalism, planning, strategies etc. All the qualities of good creative management!

Unfortunately, the entertainment industry has not had the fortune of having many good managers working amongst them. Hopefully with Corporatisation, better managerial talent will enter this lucrative industry and change the ad hoc operations and chaos that prevails. The demands of the entertainment industry are different from those of others and its about time that the world’s largest film industry has Entertainment Science graduates working for it. Our education system has to become dynamic so as to cater to the requirements of the job market! It was indeed sad to see a member of the audience at the symposium plead incessantly with Sony and Panasonic officials on stage to provide good training for the workforce in the editing field. Its sad that the film community has not thought it fit to have their very own Film school where the best trainers can teach and upgrade the knowledge of the workers of this rich industry. Its sad that the star directors, actors etc. just grab their huge pay packets and feel no responsibility towards the betterment of the quality of the industry that feeds them and their families!

A lot of our problems can appear to be solved by methods used by the west as it appears that they have solved every conceivable problem. I can assure you that this is not true and their struggle will always continue. As for us, there is no necessity to blindly follow the west as we differ greatly from them and the solutions to our problems lie at different places. In fact, a lot of our problems have arisen because of our blind obsession to follow the ways of the west. The Industrial revolution in the west has given rise to a work force that is both disciplined and professional but it may have partially bypassed the emotional and spiritual requirements of the human psyche. Yet without the discipline, we Indians are going to find it very difficult to achieve the high growth rates that our nation requires to pull itself out of the vicious cycle of poverty and overpopulation.


It looks like finally the payback time for the corrupt Indian politician has arrived with the sentencing of former Indian Prime Minister Narsimha Rao and minister Buta Singh to 3 years rigorous imprisonment. By making, ‘staying in power’, their sole mission, these politicians have played with the lives of millions of our people and managed to rule the nation for many years by using fraudulent means. Surely three years is a small sentence for such a heinous crime! What is even more digusting is the brazen admission of Buta Singh that he would do it all over again if the need arises. Surely the integrity and morals of the Indian politicians have reached a new low. Unfortunately it is these values that are going to determine the fate of our nation and unless there is a paradigm shift in the value structure of our "leaders", there can be no hope for our nation to come out of the mess it finds itself in and realise the often heard about "potential" that we possess!

Full marks to the Judiciary to come to the rescue of Democracy once again.

I have always felt that the mantra to our success as a nation lies in the three principles of transparency, accountability and speedy justice. If we can achieve this in all matters of public matters it will be smooth sailing for us. Note that I do not bring up the standard excuses given for our lack of progress as overpopulation, corruption etc. All these are just symptoms of the problem rather than the problem itself. We have consistently tried to treat these symptoms over the years with little success and as any good doctor would tell you, the root cause of the ailments have to be addressed first. The Integrity Crises has to addressed on a war footing and the people have to be reassured that there is good in this world, that one can get places without the need to know someone, that your merit is recognised and that you will always receive what you are truly worth. It is these very conditions under which the Indians have been so successful in the west and it is shameful that we cannot do so in our own country. Here’s hoping that we soon all get our heads together and work towards a better tomorrow!

All the best,

Nandu Bhende

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