Creative endeavors have historically been considered a nice to have, rather than a necessity that yields sustainability for students and adults alike. Today, young people across the globe are taking digital literacy to the next level, expanding the understanding of what should be taught, and even more importantly, what they want to be exposed to advance their creative pursuits. In many ways, it’s a story that has been gradually gaining traction and attention.
“Hoping to blossom (one day) into a flower, every bud sits, holding its soul in its fist.”
When Mah Laqa Bai, an 18th-century Indian poet, penned these words, she became the first woman to have her work published in a Diwan (a collection of Indian authors’ poems). With every line, she found new written territory, linking herself to her heritage of storytelling and progressing the eternal chain of our communicated self-discovery. As a result, she grounds us in the reality revealed by the story: the concept of untold potential.
Hyderabad, India, where Bai published her first works, is a city rooted in and born from the country’s ancient storytelling origins and an ideal representative of this rich tradition. After the British colonial grip loosened, migration yielded a creative surge of poetic and musical expression that formed the city’s reputation as India’s cultural hub.
The city’s historic backdrop provides the ideal launch point for the fourth annual and updated IndiaJoy Festival, Asia’s largest digital entertainment event dedicated to the discovery of the future of story.
“Virtual is Reality,” announced Shri K T Rama Rao, Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Industry and Commerce, ITE&C, Government of Telangana, as he unveiled this year’s theme. Leading companies in the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) industry will meet virtually for the first time this month to share advancements in new and emerging technologies as well as discussions on future developments in digital entertainment and storytelling.
“Hyderabad has always been the epicenter of growth in this sector and the Telangana Government has played a key role in promoting this ecosystem. Now, we are at a juncture witnessing rapid growth. It entails a great deal of strategic value to keep the momentum by continuing to support such a mega event like IndiaJoy,” explains Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary of the Industries and Commerce (I&C) and Information Technology (IT) Departments, Government of Telangana.
The Indian Government’s support extends beyond IndiaJoy. Back in 2015, their ‘Digital India’ initiative was launched to strengthen online infrastructure and expand access to online education. It seems to be working, as the recent IAMAI-Kantar Cube report showed that India’s active internet user base is expected to reach 900 million by 2025, a 45% increase since just last year.
As millions enter the digital education world, how will the stories crafted in their own community, impact the Indian children whose curiosity beckons? From an outside perspective, it seems India is currently enjoying a significant momentum of progress in the digital space. With strong government support, community buy-in, continuous conversation and innovation, the country’s landscape is going digital. The trend is particularly apparent in education.
The festival is designed to integrate student creators through the Global Youth Program providing participant access to young people from across the globe. Considering the numerous opportunities and possibilities resulting from IndiaJoy, one can only wonder how the festival will benefit this new set of learners driving change.
Sunil Chakravarthi, Program Director, IndiaJoy, believes this year’s virtual platform will expand the opportunities for learning. “While this edition is going to be virtual, we see it as an advantage, as the speakers and participants are boundless. There are over 500 delegates, 18000+ participants, 200+ tracks, and 100+ panel discussions confirmed, and we have already witnessed a 2.5x increase in participants this year, nothing less than an International physical event that is full of joy. Yes, virtual is reality for creators of all ages.”
Mobile Premier League (MPL), Asia’s largest esports and skill gaming platform has become the presenting sponsor of IndiaJoy 2021. “Our vision at MPL is to revolutionize the mobile gaming and esports landscape not just in India, but the world,” says Sai Srinivas, the cofounder and CEO of MPL. “We look forward to sharing our experience and insights, to delve deeper into ideas that will propel the industry forward.”
Shri K T Rama Rao adds, “IndiaJoy 2021 will further enhance industry collaboration, international cooperation, and create a better business environment for the sector.“
However, the conference serves as more than a conducive environment for productive and beneficial working relationships. Having attracted investments of 10 million over the past three years and catalyzed the emergence of countless startups, India’s AVGC sector is booming. The Indian creative technology and digital sectors are expected to reach 3 Lakh Crore (approx. USD 44 billion) by 2024 according to festival organizers.
“IndiaJoy has played a significant role in boosting the AVGC sector in Asia,” Shri K T Rama Rao continues. “Most importantly, it will showcase Hyderabad as a rewarding destination for entrepreneurs, startups, and businesses.”
When Bai penned her words, she had no indication of the future landscape of her craft. She most likely couldn’t have imagined how the world would transform story, and even more remarkably, how story would transform the world.
As India and education migrate to online ecosystems and the limitations of conveying our creativity lessen with every step forward, we move further into a digital narrative. At the same time, the pedagogical buzzword of engagement (with respect to learning) continues to gather weight. IndiaJoy’s upcoming festival combines the best of what one might expect from a technology event with added learning opportunities to support a global wave of storytelling innovation.
Hyderabad provides the optimal environment for storytelling, offering a bridge between historical contributions and modernity. The collective creativity of the IndiaJoy experience proves the perfect setting to yield innovative advancements needed in education. India’s rich culture and long history once again provide the fertile crescent from which the infinite potential of each story’s seed can take hold.