Troubling Times In India

(I’ve been busy with the subsidy stuff so apologies for not posting as often.)

Things are looking grim in India’s fledgling animation industry:

Pankaj Khandpur, the creative director and head of production, visual computing labs at Tata Elxsi, which has done the special effects for Arjun and prior to that Roadside Romeo, sees a vicious circle firmly in place instead of a virtuous cycle.

“There is no animation market in India and because a few that were made failed there are no more being made. And television budgets are way too low to support good quality animation,” he says. Quality animation movies cost between Rs 20 crore ($3.5M USD) and Rs 40 crore ($7M USD)and at least a quarter of that in case of television.

I’ve routinely posted my skepticism of the idea that “it’s all going to India.” Just last year I pointed to another article: “Does Indian Animation Need A Monkey Wrench?” The article pinned the hopes of the Indian animation industry on “Delhi Safari” which was supposed to come out October of 2011. Did it ever come out?

It seems that each year hype gets built up over an Indian animated film that routinely misses the mark. I found this thread on and Indian VFX forum to provide an interesting perspective. It seems to me that cheap labor isn’t the threat, its artificial pricing through subsidized labor that is.

It also seems to me that the narrative is changing in other industries. A recent report concluded that outsourcing to India will begin to decline in 2014 and will end in 8 to 10 years. Another article points out that businesses are choosing locations with higher labor costs instead of the cheapest. On top of all that, India’s economy seems to be stalling. Just this week the Indian rupee hit an all time low with the US dollar.

Flat-Earthers have routinely touted the rise of India and have concluded that the work will all go away to India. They’ve said this for over a decade now. So exactly when is this supposed to happen? I’d like to mark the date on my calendar.

Soldier On.

6 Responses to Troubling Times In India

  1. Paul says:

    Well the problem is that neither of you know which way this is going to take. To say that India will begin to decline in 2 years and end in 8 to 10 years is preposterous assumption. I don’t think all work will go away but a certain kind of work yes.

    At any rate if it doesn’t go away it’ll be made cheaply right here! Haven’t you heard about salaries in Greece or Germany for example? You have jobs at 1 euro an hour over there!

    • Marcus says:

      Punchline patrol:
      The 1-euro jobs in Germany are vehicles to get the long-term unemployed back into the labor market. Benefits from the social safety net don’t just run out, so you have situations where people can be unemployed for a really long time and, depending on their age, etc, cannot realistically go back into the labor force from one day to another.
      So you have these public-interest jobs which are – to a degree – successfully regulated as to not compete with for-profit jobs. The compensation is actually just meant to cover extra expenses from that job. It’s not a perfect system, it’s not even great… but the purpose has nothing to do with salary dumping.

  2. A lower rupee would presumably make Indian labor cheaper (and potentially more attractive) on the global market, right? Then again, that’s ‘flat-earth’ thinking.

  3. jonavark says:

    Doesn’t change the fact that I am bidding against India on medium sized jobs here in the US every time I bid.

  4. Paul says:

    Unless everyone is moving down there what’s to worry about?!

    roto will be done a few years from now by the same people blowing leaves down your street…with the same wages! and after roto, paint and so on.

    Won’t go to India? India will come to you!

  5. Mahesh says:

    Pankaj Khandpur of Tata Elxsi in the article said there is no “market” for animation in India, which only means movies made for domestic audience will be a sure failure. Taking the example of the best of Hollywood animation movies released in India for your reference, most of them failed to cross a million $ in box office in India as people r not interested in watching Animation…

    Its really a bad news for US animators because Tata Elxsi and some other studios after burning its hands by making movies for domestic Indian market has now gone back to working on outsourced projects…

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