Karnataka’s animation sector ready for fresh start

Karnataka’s AVGC sector ready for a refresh, asks for policy support

Experts highlights the need for new AVGC Policy 3.0 in Karnataka that could help spur growth in the sector and create job opportunities

In 2012, Karnataka introduced its first animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) policy, to encourage a sector that would go on to work on some big-ticket Hollywood movies. Think X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Martian. 

While the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the sector as well, there are hopes being nurtured for immediate growth once business returns to normal, but the government needs to step in and act fast for that, industry experts say. 

Speaking to DH, Biren Ghose, President ABAI (Association of Bangalore Animation Industry) highlighted a few issues, including the need for a new AVGC Policy 3.0, that could help spur growth in the sector, specially in Karnataka and create between 7,000 to 10,000 new jobs in a short period of time. 

“We are not asking for cash benefits or subsidies. There are other steps the government can take, including taking a look at GST refunds, ensuring better credit terms and providing rental relief at government-owned tech parks,” Ghose said. Another issue highlighted was the charging of electricity at commercial rates instead of the industrial rate promised in Karnataka’s IT policy. “The AVGC industry is a power-hungry machine. To give you an example, the power bill of some companies in the sector is higher than their rental bills,” he said adding, “All the government has to do is work out a system to provide a benefit which is already promised.” 

Ghose, who spoke at the Bengaluru Tech Summit on Friday, also made a case for a refresh of the AVGC policy, which was recently updated in 2017. “There are many new technologies which should be part of the policy. There is e-sports, Augmented Reality, Extended Reality (XR) all of which should be part of the new policy,” he explained.

The animation industry, witnessing a growth of 18 per cent before the pandemic, has dropped its estimates to around 5-10 per cent this year and will now have to work hard to regain the lost growth. For this goal, Ghose suggested that the government look first at enabling larger companies to target growth and said that this would have a cascading effect helping smaller businesses as well. “We want the Government to invest in infrastructure, to bring in soft-touch policies, look at the possibility of a mega-hub for large scale exports.”

On the post-covid scenario, Ghose said that the industry would adapt by deploying strategies like virtual production, real-time editing and other technologies to help overcome the challenges of Covid-19. “There is a massive skill shortage and by fast-tracking projects like Centre of Excellence, scholarships for students in Tier-II and Tier-III cities, we can catapult growth in the sector,” he said.