Documentary channel

In ‘An Insignificant Man’, Arvind Kejriwal’s first electoral win becomes a suspense thriller

The documentary by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla maps the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi assembly election in 2013.

An Insignificant Man presents Indian politics as high drama and an election as a nail-biting thriller that goes down to the wire.

The engaging and deftly crafted documentary by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla alternates between fly-on-the-wall account and embedded chronicle of AAP’s campaign to win the Delhi assembly election in 2013. Using hundreds of hours of footage shot over a year and a half, the film relies on observational camerawork (by Shukla, Ranka and Vinay Rohira) and skillful editing (by Abhinav Tyagi and Manan Bhatt) to chart the transformation of an anti-corruption movement into a political party rising to power. (It resigned after only 49 days in power and was re-elected in 2015.)

This is a feature-length and three-act saga of heroes, villains and casualties, told through handheld shots collected over a span of time and from different locations. Arvind Kejriwal, the former Indian Revenue Service officer who became Chief Minister of Delhi on the promise of clean and efficient governance, emerges as the driver of the narrative. Described as a supporter as thin and weak, Kejriwal demonstrates many instances of his strength, resolve and adaptability. He declares that AAP will never contest elections, then decides to march on Delhi, and changes his views on inner-party democracy when it comes to selecting election candidates.

In a telling sequence, Kejriwal smoothly swats away a member’s question about whose opinion will actually prevail in the candidate selection. My will needs to operate too, Kejriwal says with a steely smile, before charitably adding, your contribution is your right.

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An Insignificant Man.

Demagogue or democrat? The documentary claims neutrality by adopting an as-it-happened voice, but the admiration for Kejriwal’s gumption is unmistakable. There is no Voice of God narrator to guide audiences but many overhead shots and sweeping views of AAP volunteers streaming through Delhi’s neighbourhoods and banging down doors to persuade voters to ink their fingers in their favour.

When not viewing AAP’s rise from above, the filmmakers are on the ground with party members, many of whom have never been involved with politics or an election before. The intimacy of the footage and its urgent television news quality accentuate AAP’s popular image as a party that emerged out of the dust and rage of Delhi’s streets.

In one of the few personal moments in the 109-minute documentary, as Kejriwal leaves his house on voting day, his mother asks him what time he will return. Kejriwal laughs: it will be a long night.

An Insignificant Man is the second documentary after Lalit Vachani’s An Ordinary Election (2015) to focus on the 2013 Delhi assembly election, which was the first of two contested by the Aam Aadmi Party. The documentaries are different in scope and ambition but share some similarities. Both use AAP to explore the birth of a political challenger; both concentrate on AAP’s maverick tactics; both use the 2013 election as the framing device; both benefit tremendously from the access and relative freedom they were given to record party meetings, campaign tours and controversies from up close.

Indeed, no other Indian political party has allowed filmmakers to prowl around its offices with recording equipment this way. This trust reposed in strangers tells us a few things about AAP, all of which are fruitfully explored by Ranka and Shukla: the party has nothing to hide and little to lose and understands the power of the image since it has benefitted from media attention from its inception.

An Insignificant Man. Courtesy Memesys Culture Lab.
An Insignificant Man. Courtesy Memesys Culture Lab.

Villains and casualties emerge in this epic tale of the outsider who becomes the insider. Sheila Dikshit of the Congress, who was Delhi Chief Minister at the time, appears as a blinkered opponent who remains dismissive of Kejriwal’s chances until it’s too late. Kejriwal’s juggernaut also claims some of its own as casualties. Among the tragic figures is Yogendra Yadav, the psephologist and academic who was expelled from AAP in 2015 after differences with the leadership. The segments featuring Yadav suggest that this was coming – he struggles to keep pace with Kejriwal’s spontaneous decision making, and at one point can even be seen clutching his head.

Although An Insignificant Man tries to stay away from a retrospective reading by presenting events in a linear timeline, the section featuring Yadav works best only because of what we now know about his split from the party. This sub-plot serves as a neat climax to a three-act story. It does not address the criticism that Kejriwal might survive without AAP, but it seems clear that the party would find it hard to exist without him.

The countdown approach creates an infectious sense of energy and tension despite a known outcome, but it is ultimately self-limiting: it precludes analysis and is too caught up in the moment to hazard guesses about AAP’s future beyond Delhi. The film recreates its present (2012 and 2013), but lacks the foresight to speak to our present (2017). It works perfectly as an exhaustive electoral campaign documentary, but is too self-enclosed to examine the social and political conditions that resulted in AAP’s conquest of Delhi, which go beyond exposes of scams in power distribution and water supply.

An Insignificant Man. Courtesy Memesys Culture Lab.
An Insignificant Man. Courtesy Memesys Culture Lab.

Documentaries have the power to be both eye-witness as well as clairvoyant. Mani Kaul’s Before My Eyes, set in Kashmir before the onset of militancy in 1989, is both a gorgeous nature documentary as well as a poignant snapshot of a paradise that is about to be lost. A young boy picks up reeds from a lake before being erased from the frame. As a camera pans over snow-covered mountains, the sound of the jarring motors of the helicopter from which the sequence has been shot is an unmistakable aural premonition.

Kejriwal’s questionable influence beyond Delhi is the indirect subject of Kamal Swaroop’s Battle for Banaras (2015). Swaroop’s sprawling account of the contest between Kejriwal and Narendra Modi for the Varanasi parliamentary constituency in 2014 follows Kejriwal on his campaign trail but is also aware of Modi’s assured victory and his future grip of the Indian imagination. Modi is depicted as a spectral presence in the film, viewed as towering cutouts and flex banners, and is seen in a long shot on a ghat, surrounded by saffron flags and religious figures.

The Bharatiya Janata Party gave AAP a close contest in the 2013 Delhi assembly election, but were vanquished in the second, and more crucial, re-election that followed in 2015. Why did Delhi’s voters choose to make Kejriwal their chief minister yet again although he resigned after only 49 days? An Insignificant Man suggests that Kejriwal’s handling of the issues that matter, such as power and water supply, won him the first round. A sequel that explains his second, and more significant victory, needs to be made too. Perhaps it will be known as A Very Significant Man.

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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.