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Seeking Red Carpets

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There was both an Indian and a Pakistani presence at the 84th Academy Awards, but in different ways. Anil Ambani’s joint venture with the legendary Steven Spielberg, ‘DreamWorks Studios’, had three films competing for eleven awards. Finally, it was only Octavia Spencer who got the ‘Supporting Actress Award’ for the hugely acclaimed ‘The Help’. This was a great moment for a successful private collaboration in a creative field between India and the US. Such ventures, if wisely undertaken, can be lucrative, and also immensely satisfactory in terms of value obtained in ‘soft’ terms. Ventures like these augur the coming decades when Indian entrepreneurs will play a larger global role in areas which the investment climate, perhaps, does not allow in India. Whether it is Tata owning Land Rover and Jaguar in Britain, and Adani purchasing mines and ports in Australia, it is reminiscent of the great Japanese takeover of US companies in the seventies and, later, by the Oil Sheikhs. Ambani walking the red carpet at the Oscars is an indication of India’s increasing integration with the developed world, its pace held back only by a short-sighted polity at home.
On the other hand, the award for Best Documentary Film (short) was won by a Pakistani film, ‘Saving Face’, about the country’s hundreds of acid attack victims and the effort being made to treat, rehabilitate and provide them justice. The Pakistanis would have been happy, actually, for not being in the news for such a subject, but it does reflect just another aspect of a society in meltdown. The thinking that fuels such attacks is only on the increase in that country, and has roots to a considerable extent in India, too. Just as Indians thought ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was not exactly the kind of publicity they wanted, promoting as it did – albeit inadvertently – the long held stereotypes about the country.
India can be content that, as in the case of DreamWorks Studios, there is also a lot that provides it good publicity. India, its companies, its products and professionals can only benefit from this, reflecting well on the economic indicators. The Americans, in particular, who have developed something of a siege mentality vis a vis India and China, should feel they are also benefiting from the association and it is not just a loss-making one; and just as India needs to overhaul its policies, the US, too, could benefit in the long run if its borders – of every kind – were opened up more to Indians. It is India’s market that is set for explosive growth in the next two decades – good people to people relations would give the US an advantage, having as it does an edge with Indians’ fascination for its culture and lifestyle.
With Sachin Tendulkar aging and nobody of anything like his calibre, yet, to take his place, India’s greatest image builder – its Cricket Team – is taking a beating. It becomes important, therefore, for the Sun to rise on the many other sports disciplines, so that by the next Olympics, India is a force to be reckoned with. Just think, all it needs is a Tendulkar to be discovered in each of the other sports for India’s enormous numbers to overwhelm the victory stands – just as China does at present.

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