By SAMIT BASU
THE first time I heard of the concept of crowdfunding for creative projects, I remember thinking how wonderful it was that people in other countries were willing to pay in order to see ideas they found interesting come into the world.
But I also found myself assuming, stupidly, that something like this could never work in India. Because we’re all told that Indians don’t like to pay for things, that we’re always looking for discounts, that there was something inherently stingy about us. That we come together as a community to help one another out only when faced with natural disasters and other circumstances where there was simply no other option. Giving and sharing without quantifiable returns? Un-Indian.
Just a few years later, popular assumptions of what Indians are like and what they are not prove, as in all fields of enquiry, to be absolutely wrong. There are so many examples of crowdfunded Indian projects that people are more than happy to fund – incredible ideas that would never have set off sparks in mainstream corporate meeting rooms, but addressed genuine needs in interesting ways.
A young crowdfunding executive I met a few years ago said that he’s been amazed at the generosity people have displayed. Not just mysterious, heroic patrons, but young people who didn’t have much money, people in other countries who just got excited by new ideas in India, people of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds.
All that was missing was a trustworthy place to contribute to. A really good idea to get behind.
I’ve never been happier to have been comprehensively wrong. And as the world around us grows bleaker, as more and more people around us are forced into survival mode, I’m now confident that there will be more lights in the darkness, more people willing to come together to help out. Especially in fields where any change is real, desperately needed, and will make so much difference.
We now live in a world where our institutions are crumbling, where we have to fend for ourselves, and now more than ever before it’s becoming clearer that we can’t shrug off social responsibilities, we can’t rest easy that anyone else is going to step in and fix the things that need fixing.
The world is more unequal than ever, and if we want this to stop being the case, we’ll have to do what we can. Whether we do it in public because we want to be seen as generous, or in private because it makes us feel like secret superheroes doesn’t matter.
Why we do it doesn’t matter – it has to be done, and no one else is going to do it.
If global inequality has any hope of even being addressed, it’s going to be by people contributing whatever they can wherever they can, not through the machinations of some benevolent overlord. It’s going to be through small change, and empathy, and unity through positive actions that bring us together in difficult times.
Samit Basu writes books. For adults, the bestselling novels in the Gameworld Trilogy, beginning with The Simoqin Prophecies, which started the Indian fantasy/speculative fiction scene in English in 2003, and the internationally acclaimed superhero novels Turbulence and Resistance. For younger readers, The Adventures of Stoob series. Basu also writes comics and films and for various media in India and abroad.