Documentary channel

I dream of Japan! A documentary explores the craze for Japanese anime in Nagaland

Hemant Gaba’s ‘Japan in Nagaland’ is centred on a cosfest in Kohima.

It is exactly like the title suggests. Hemant Gaba’s Japan in Nagaland is about a slice of Japanese culture that is being relished in the North Eastern Indian state.

Gaba follows a group of devotees of Japanese animation, or anime, who are members of the Facebook group Nagaland Anime Junkies. In July last year, they held the second edition of an anime-themed cosfest, or costume playing festival, in the state capital of Kohima. Hundreds of adolescents and young adults congregated in Kohima dressed as their favourite anime characters. They came from far and wide: among the characters featured in the documentary is a pair of sisters who have travelled from Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh, dressed as Sasha Braus and Hange Zoe from the cartoon series Attack on Titan.

Cosplayers take their role playing very seriously, as is evident from the efforts of the sisters Jenny and Juno. Jenny has designed her own costume, while Juno has fashioned her armour out of cartons and Cellotape. Japan in Nagaland is among the films produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust that will be screemed at the Open Frame festival in Delhi from September 15-22.



Gaba captures the preparations and asks participants about the reasons for their love for anime, which extends to a love for all things Japanese (some of them wistfully speak to being able to visit the Far Eastern nation some day). “I have always been fascinated by the North East,” said Gaba, who lives in Delhi. “My friend Smita Varma, who works with the Telegraph newspaper had done an article on the Facebook group, and this article and her research became the basis of my pitch to PSBT.”

The 35-year-old filmmaker, who made the indie Shuttlecock Boys in 2011, spent 12 days in Kohima in July, where strange scenes of identity politics and a typically self-contained youth culture unfold. He records the tremendous efforts of the anime organisers who work days and nights, order merchandise from Japan, and build props inspired by famous anime characters. Gaba also interviews local artist Thej Yhome, who is working on a comic in the Japanese style known as manga.

The filmmakers asks the questions that arise from the prospect of Naga youth yearning for an imported art form: Do they feel closer to the Far East than to the Indian mainland? There are several explanations rather than one. A local entrepreneur and cultural promoter says that there are very few leisure opportunities for young people – there are no parks, lounges, bars or discotheques – and thus a virtual group becomes a way for them to meet in the real world.

Himato Zhimomi, the state government’s commissioner and secretary of tourism, art and culture, explained that dances and cultural festivals have historically provided avenues for self expression for the young, adding that “the colonial encounter and missionary practices made them seem inferior”. Zhimomi, perhaps mindful of the repercussions of admitting that Naga youth aren't exactly enamored of modes of Indian mainstream entertainment, especially Hindi cinema, rejects the idea of reading too much into the anime craze and the popularity of Korean television series and movies in the region.

Gaba too doesn’t delve into this fondness for Eastern popular cultural forms in a state that has always had a tense and distrustful relationship with the Indian mainland. One wonders what older people with memories of the failed Japanese offensive into Kohima in 1944 during the Second World War will make of their young ones yearning to build connections with their would-be conquerors.

It is left to viewers to make what they will of the thoughts and feelings of the young Naga men and women interviewed for the documentary. One of them admits that a similarity in appearance with people from East Asia might play a role in establishing the popularity of Korean and Japanese imports. Another praises the themes explored by anime, declaring, “Artistically it is awesome and Bollywood can never reach that level in terms of creativity. Not even Hollywood has.”

Zhimomi predicts that Chinese films will be the next new craze in Nagaland. Meanwhile, the Nagaland Anime Junkies held the third edition of the cosfest this July. The rest of India might sway to the beats of Bollywood, but in this corner of the nation, a faraway style of animation works just fine.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

How sustainable farming practices can secure India's food for the future

India is home to 15% of the world’s undernourished population.

Food security is a pressing problem in India and in the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), it is estimated that over 190 million people go hungry every day in the country.

Evidence for India’s food challenge can be found in the fact that the yield per hectare of rice, one of India’s principal crops, is 2177 kgs per hectare, lagging behind countries such as China and Brazil that have yield rates of 4263 kgs/hectare and 3265 kgs/hectare respectively. The cereal yield per hectare in the country is also 2,981 kgs per hectare, lagging far behind countries such as China, Japan and the US.

The slow growth of agricultural production in India can be attributed to an inefficient rural transport system, lack of awareness about the treatment of crops, limited access to modern farming technology and the shrinking agricultural land due to urbanization. Add to that, an irregular monsoon and the fact that 63% of agricultural land is dependent on rainfall further increase the difficulties we face.

Despite these odds, there is huge potential for India to increase its agricultural productivity to meet the food requirements of its growing population.

The good news is that experience in India and other countries shows that the adoption of sustainable farming practices can increase both productivity and reduce ecological harm.

Sustainable agriculture techniques enable higher resource efficiency – they help produce greater agricultural output while using lesser land, water and energy, ensuring profitability for the farmer. These essentially include methods that, among other things, protect and enhance the crops and the soil, improve water absorption and use efficient seed treatments. While Indian farmers have traditionally followed these principles, new technology now makes them more effective.

For example, for soil enhancement, certified biodegradable mulch films are now available. A mulch film is a layer of protective material applied to soil to conserve moisture and fertility. Most mulch films used in agriculture today are made of polyethylene (PE), which has the unwanted overhead of disposal. It is a labour intensive and time-consuming process to remove the PE mulch film after usage. If not done, it affects soil quality and hence, crop yield. An independently certified biodegradable mulch film, on the other hand, is directly absorbed by the microorganisms in the soil. It conserves the soil properties, eliminates soil contamination, and saves the labor cost that comes with PE mulch films.

The other perpetual challenge for India’s farms is the availability of water. Many food crops like rice and sugarcane have a high-water requirement. In a country like India, where majority of the agricultural land is rain-fed, low rainfall years can wreak havoc for crops and cause a slew of other problems - a surge in crop prices and a reduction in access to essential food items. Again, Indian farmers have long experience in water conservation that can now be enhanced through technology.

Seeds can now be treated with enhancements that help them improve their root systems. This leads to more efficient water absorption.

In addition to soil and water management, the third big factor, better seed treatment, can also significantly improve crop health and boost productivity. These solutions include application of fungicides and insecticides that protect the seed from unwanted fungi and parasites that can damage crops or hinder growth, and increase productivity.

While sustainable agriculture through soil, water and seed management can increase crop yields, an efficient warehousing and distribution system is also necessary to ensure that the output reaches the consumers. According to a study by CIPHET, Indian government’s harvest-research body, up to 67 million tons of food get wasted every year — a quantity equivalent to that consumed by the entire state of Bihar in a year. Perishables, such as fruits and vegetables, end up rotting in store houses or during transportation due to pests, erratic weather and the lack of modern storage facilities. In fact, simply bringing down food wastage and increasing the efficiency in distribution alone can significantly help improve food security. Innovations such as special tarpaulins, that keep perishables cool during transit, and more efficient insulation solutions can reduce rotting and reduce energy usage in cold storage.

Thus, all three aspects — production, storage, and distribution — need to be optimized if India is to feed its ever-growing population.

One company working to drive increased sustainability down the entire agriculture value chain is BASF. For example, the company offers cutting edge seed treatments that protect crops from disease and provide plant health benefits such as enhanced vitality and better tolerance for stress and cold. In addition, BASF has developed a biodegradable mulch film from its ecovio® bioplastic that is certified compostable – meaning farmers can reap the benefits of better soil without risk of contamination or increased labor costs. These and more of the company’s innovations are helping farmers in India achieve higher and more sustainable yields.

Of course, products are only one part of the solution. The company also recognizes the importance of training farmers in sustainable farming practices and in the safe use of its products. To this end, BASF engaged in a widespread farmer outreach program called Samruddhi from 2007 to 2014. Their ‘Suraksha Hamesha’ (safety always) program reached over 23,000 farmers and 4,000 spray men across India in 2016 alone. In addition to training, the company also offers a ‘Sanrakshan® Kit’ to farmers that includes personal protection tools and equipment. All these efforts serve to spread awareness about the sustainable and responsible use of crop protection products – ensuring that farmers stay safe while producing good quality food.

Interested in learning more about BASF’s work in sustainable agriculture? See here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.