Bollywood

The mainstreaming of Film, Media and Entertainment education in India

By Chaitanya Chinchlikar

Education in India is heavily regulated. Especially Higher and 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 and 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 specific industry.

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 under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

The reason for this is because these sectors have a need for significant subject-matter-specific education / training, and the respective ministries were deemed fit to create the framework for such education.


All the ministries (other than I&B) have set up a specialised educational framework for higher & technical education in its sector and have 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.
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. Nor is there an organisation / institutional entity / overseeing body set up for Film, Media and Entertainment education.

The government has simply set up academically autonomous but government-funded institutions like FTII, SRFTI, JJ School of Arts, IIMC & NID, without any overarching Educational Policy Framework or Educational Council for specialised education in the sector.

There is no multi-level structure (undergraduate / post-graduate / doctoral, etc) that has been set up which is the standard or the norm for all education in M&E in India. This has left no scope for private institutions that would be keen to set up specialised institutions to cater to the graduate / post-graduate / higher & technical education needs of the Media & Entertainment industry. Hence, Film & Media education has never been mainstreamed in India.

Going by global norms, Film Education or Education in any of the other Arts 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? And there was no official educational criterion to be called a lawyer 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 & customised 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, even though it is not the MHRD’s mandate to be administering M&E education.

Clearly, this should be unacceptable to us.A sector that needs specialised education (and hence is a subject of the I&B ministry and not the MHRD) has no framework, no guidelines and hence has been left out of the mainstream education in India for decades.

This is also the reason why there are so few world-class institutions for specialised Arts education in India. That is also the reason that the percentage of formally trained people in our film industry is less than 15%. That is the reason why overall quality & box office collections of our films are abysmal when compared globally.

This is reflected in the fact that despite having ~17% of the total world’s population and ~9% of the world’s economy, the Indian Media & Entertainment has less than 1% of the global Media & Entertainment industry as market share.

We do not make Films / TV / web shows that appeal to the rest of the world en-masse and hence end up leaving 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; but the number of films / TV shows that have travelled globally over the past 7 decades, and appealed to non-diaspora viewers, can be counted on 2 hands.

This lack of framework is also the reason why, despite being one of the world’s oldest film industries (the first film was globally made in the 1890s; the first Indian film was made in 1912, so India was only 25 years after the world) at 105 yrs of age, we are not a global name in film education. We have no globally recognised Media Labs in India. We have conducted exactly zero research & development in the field.

Today, India is a global player in Science, Technology, Pharma, Space Exploration and several other areas, where we have had an excellent educational framework created decades ago.

Despite being one of the oldest cultures, which had understood Entertainment Education as a unique art form (case in point being The Natyashastra, which is widely considered as the 5th Veda), we do not have claim to any global leadership in it today.

India needs at least 5-10 times as many Film graduates each year as we have now.


The Indian Film, TV & Media Arts industry is India’s biggest cultural ambassador entrusted with the task of spreading Indian culture & values globally and despite that, it does not have an official educational framework to operate in. This is a flaw in India’s academic structure that needs immediate correction, so that mainstreaming of Film & Media education can begin.

What should be the way forward in implementing this mainstreaming of Film, Media & Entertainment education?

Setting up of an Indian Media Arts Education Council to be under the I&B Ministry. Comprised of both media academics & industry professionals

  • Creation of an educational framework to define structured programs in multiple areas of the Film, Media & Entertainment industry, at the Undergraduate, Post-Graduate, Higher&Technical and Doctoral levels. This should align with the NSQF / MESC standards that are already in the process of being laid down.
  • Whether we follow the current global norms [1-yr Certificate Program in Film Arts, 2-yr Diploma in Film Arts, 3-yr Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts, 4-yr BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts), 2-yr MFA (Masters in Fine Arts), 4-yr PHD (Doctorate in Fine Arts)] or not; but we definitely NEED to have a multi-level framework.
  • Once a multi-level structure is identified, creation of a learning-outcome based / output-based curriculum for the same in multiple verticals of the Film, Media & Entertainment industry.
  • Once we’ve defined learning outcomes and output-based evaluation at each level, then the Council has to define the education that students should be equipped with BEFORE they can apple to any of these programs. This education will then need to be seeded into the high school education in India.
  • Creation of infrastructure / faculty / academic delivery norms to be followed by all institutions desirable of conducting education in the Film, Media & Entertainment industry.
  • Assimilating all the education in the multiple verticals of the Film, Media & Entertainment industry which is currently heavily fragmented under the Council and ensuring appropriate approvals / registration and degrees of autonomy to be provided to each institution as per pre-defined parameters.

Sit back and enjoy the galloping pace of Indian Film, Media & Entertainment industry as we start making our mark globally, both in terms of content and education.

 

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