book bazaar

The three genres that topped 2014: the gap between pulp and literary fiction just got wider

You may not find your favourite books of the year mentioned in this article.

Which works of Indian writing did India buy to read in 2014? We looked at the bestselling lists put out by the leading e-commerce sites to extract the trends. These, then, are the baskets of books that we identified as the favourites of the year.

Runaway Romances
Surprising no one, the story of Madhav and Ria, aka Half Girlfriend, was the runaway bestseller on all charts. That every new book by Bhagat will be a huge hit is axiomatic by now. What is interesting is how he maps his market and writes just what his chosen target audience wants ‒ in this case, a journey through St Stephen’s College, Delhi and the streets of New York, with a detour through basketball, the men’s hostel, and the swank precincts of Delhi’s Aurangzeb Road. This is fantasy in the guise of everyday events, dream-fulfilment rather than what might be, and it continues to work with people who read very little besides Bhagat’s books.

While the rising tide of Bhagat’s bestsellers don’t life many boats, the ones that do benefit are other simplistic narratives tapping the ubiquitous vein of love, longing and some lust among young people. No complexities here - only pre-plotted developments moving to a pre-ordained climax, involving one-dimensional youngsters whose romantic trajectories are a surrogate for readers’ own, often faltering course of love.

So we had, inter alia, When Only Love Remains by Durjoy Datta; Your Dreams Are Mine Now: She Showed him What Love Was, by Ravinder Singh; and Sorry, You're Not My Type by Sudeep Nagarkar. All of them set in college campuses or in the world of showbiz, with the complexities of reality reduced to raw and overflowing emotion, devoid of either social or psychological underpinnings.

Thriller Takeaways
It’s easy to imagine a large bunch of city dwellers past the first flush of romance but still looking for ways to escape the relentless pursuit of the daily grind. For them there were the stories of an edgy existence, surfing that unreal territory between crime, greed and passion that never quite goes out of fashion in popular fiction, even if real life has never really resembled it.

Combining all the contemporary stereotypes of drugs, virtual games, real and electronic money, markets, fetishism, gender-bending masquerading as the dark side of the soul, Ashwin Sanghi ‒ with the internationally branded help of James Patterson ‒ and Ravi Subramanian, the sultan of the sinister in current Indian writing, wrote their way into people’s bookshelves (though, come to think of it, are thrillers read more than once?).

Sanghi’s Private India, part of the international Private series, was an improbable tale of detection against the backdrop of terrorism, with a string of murders following a pattern setting up a chain if suspense leading to the identity of the murder, with some soft underworld connections and even romance thrown in.

As for Subramanian’s God Is A Gamer, its exhaustive research into Bitcoin ‒ the virtual currency that had nerds twisting their knickers in a frenzy ‒ a meeting between the heads of Visa and MasterCard and the introduction of Wikileaks turned it into an embodiment of the well-informed geek’s Facebook feed, told in the form of fiction. It was a page-turner despite its heavy dose of information - or perhaps because of that very reason.

Mythological Mysteries
Yes yes, book-buyers are still keen to have their traditional myths packaged into racy tales, and the more they can combine historical characters and different epochs of time, the better. Hence the success of The Mahabharata Quest : The Alexander Secret by Christopher C Doyle, where King Alexander, the Mahabharata, terrorism and a spot of archaeology all come together for a huge - and riveting - historical-modern caper and chase. And yes, there’s all that “science” too.

At the other end of the mythology as fiction scale was Shikhandi And Other Tales They Don't Tell You by Debdutt Pattanaik, where queer identity was explored. At first glance, this might seem an unlikely candidate for a popularly accepted book, but it showed the way to a discerning readership hungry for an authentic telling of the myths that emerged from the collective consciousness of the past.

Of course, that’s not all that people bought and read. But the big picture is sharp. And the clear and present danger to the market prospects of the “literary book” is palpable. Now you know where publishers have to look to keep their cash registers ringing.

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The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

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The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

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