fiction or fact

Ten literary trends we’re staring at in India in 2017

A reckless set of forecasts with complete disregard of facts, and therefore likely to come true.

What a year it’s been for literature in 2016. By which I mean showbiz, of course. (These days, when I say politics, medicine, technology or astrology, I really just mean showbiz.) Look at it: Bob Dylan got a Nobel, Mrs Funnybones is apparently in the running for a Jnanpith and Aishwarya Rajinikanth Dhanush, if my publisher is to be believed, is the next Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Or is it Neil Nitin Mukesh? Same difference.

So, go ahead, call up your favourite bookie, place your bets for 2017. This is pretty much how it’s going to go.

Big publishing houses will open branches at YRF and Dharma

In the first half of 2017, to save time, two biggie publishing houses will set up branch offices in the outhouses of Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions. Who gets which will be decided by K Jo in a rapid-fire round. Forthwith, as Alia Bhatt, Sonam Kapoor, Johnny Lever and Baby Aaradhya walk in or out of the doors of these production houses, commissioning editors, posted behind bushes and in the watchman’s cabin, will dive on them, hold them in a headlock, and sign them up for lucrative publishing deals. Old-fashioned writers, meanwhile, will gather dust in the abandoned offices in Delhi and volunteer to be pulped along with their unsold copies.

Shera will open his own publishing house

C’mon. This is Bollywood we are talking about. Their nostrils were made for business. Seeing bread that rightfully belongs to them being skimmed off by diabolical Delhiwallahs, it won’t be long before, say, Shera (don’t tell me I have to tell you who that is? Salman Khan’s trusted bodyguard, for god’s sake), floats his own publishing house, Booked by Bhaijaan or Dabangg Prakashan. Now, if he does that, where do you think the filmwallahs will take their books? Unless they want to go to the same bone re-setter as Vivek Oberoi, that is.

Writers will begin developing six-packs

As a counterblast, the erstwhile darlings of the publishing world, the large group of morbidly obese former bestselling writers, will hit the gym with a vengeance. Which will result in the gym begging for mercy and running away in the dead of the night. But, undaunted, writers will use their unsold copies as free weights and become lean, mean, six-pack machines. But only for a minute. The canny Bollywood brigade will undo their work by inviting the carb-deprived bunch to a series of parties with great booze and free snacks. The writers will regain their lost weight and become their former unphotogenic selves, back to needing the glamour of actors at their book dos. Voilà.

Litfests will introduce new exciting features

In 2016, apparently, we had 863 literature festivals. Many of these had twice as many writers as audience members. (All of whom were there in the first place because the organisers had said Sunny Leone was going to participate.) So a jazzing up of the format is definitely on the cards. This year, I see:

~ Introduction of New Categories in Literary Awards – like Best Supporting Writer on Social Media, Best Editor in a Villainous Role, Best Stunt Performed by a Lit Agent, Maximum Number of ‘Hottieee’s for a Writer on FB, Most Tragic Scene of Loss & Redemption By A Writer, etc.

~ Oscar-style music to deter speakers from babbling.

~ K-Jo-style sessions with, say, Amitav Ghosh, Shilpa Shetty and TM Krishna on the same sofa – answering questions like “Who is handsomer? Quick. Raghuram Rajan or Arvind Adiga?” and battling it out for a gift hamper.

Creative Repackaging

If my sales rep buddy is to be trusted, apparently, their warehouse is being used by corporates as an adventure sports venue. The mounds of unsold stock are great for rock-climbing parties, obstacle courses, hide-and-seek, passing-the-parcel, etc. Publishers will now rip the binding off these books and repackage the individual pages in such a manner that pages 2 and 3 of the book you’ll be reading could be a cookbook, 4 and 5, a murder mystery, 6 and 7, Bejan Daruwalla’s predictions for the year 2012. Imagine the possibilities.

Publishers will introduce writerless books

My editor once said to me over drinks, by which I mean literally over drinks, because we had both passed out over a crate of whisky, “If it wasn’t for these freakin’ writers, what a job I have...” Well, that day is here. When you have driverless cars, pilotless planes and cashless economies, why not writerless books? A major publishing house has developed an app where books will write themselves. And not just that, they will also edit, print, sell, market, read and pulp them, too. It will be launched in mid-2017 and is expected to get rave reviews in journo-less papers.

Writers will explore fusion genres

Historical fiction, narrative non-fiction, chick Lit, self-Improvement – meh. How long are we supposed to read the same bloody stuff? 2017 will see a daring breed of young writers, on a daring regimen of experimental hallucinogens, come up with titles in fantastic new genres like futuristic cookbooks, Carnatic fiction, erotic self-improvement, chick lit for men pretending to be women, literally fiction, old baby fiction… You get the drift.

For the first time a writer with hair on his head will win an award

Breaking an unwritten rule in publishing, a male writer with a healthy head of hair will win a major literary award disproving that only bald men are literary. But, thanks to the tension-filled wait between the shortlist and the announcement, the writer will lose his hair and receive the award bald.

Patanjali will open its own publishing house

Like this needs an explanation!

The gods will retaliate

Sickened by the terrible retellings that totally misrepresent their lives – that have shown no sign of abating in spite of the warnings issued via demonetisation, a couple of floods and the Kapil Sharma Show – Draupadi, Indra, Yama, Abhimanyu, etc, will form a committee to put together a super-weapon that will render us all illiterate, stop for a minute, realise we are doing a great job of it with no help from them whatsoever, lie back, take a sip of heavenly soma, and read their favourite humorist, Devdutt Pattanaik.

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is the author of three books and a play. His new novella, The Sentimental Spy (Juggernaut) is available as a phone download. He has refused all awards that have come in his way because he’d rather keep his hair.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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Getting the best from collaborations

Speakers such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director - Medanta Hospitals, and Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD - Portea Medical, who spoke at the panel discussion on “Are we fit for the world of new consumers?”, highlighted the importance of collaborating with entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in the patient experience eco system. As Dr Trehan says, “As healthcare service providers we are too steeped in our own work. So even though we may realize there are gaps in customer experience delivery, we don’t want to get distracted from our core job, which is healthcare delivery. We would rather leave the job of filling those gaps to an outsider who can do it well.”

Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

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  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

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