The new batch of MICA, India's premier management school for Strategic Marketing and Communications, Ahmedabad, has developed unique and engaging audio novels that address issues plaguing society.

After attending a two-week workshop titled 'The Audio Novel,' a total of 244 students of incoming cohorts of PGP (PostGraduate Program), CCC (Crafting Creative Communication), and FPM (Fellow Program in Management) produced 24 audio novels on a variety of social issues. The topics included compassion fatigue, unschooling, heteronormativity, cyberbullying, cancel culture, start-ups, environmental issues, TV debates, perils of humanizing pets, digital freedom and equality, moonlighting at work, and many more.

The two-week workshop exposed them to the process of writing a script, the nitty-gritty of voice recording, background score, how to research social issues, pre, and post-production, etc. In addition, each student team was mentored by MICA faculty to ensure proper addressing of chosen social issues and storytelling.

The institute recently hosted an award ceremony in the presence of the Chief Guest, Dr.Bhushan Punani, Founder, Blind People's Association (BPA), and Dr.Shailendra Raj Mehta, President & Director, MICA, with Dr. Banikanta Mishra, Senior Advisor and Associate Dean (Academic Affairs), MICA, along with other faculty members. As part of the ceremony, the newly released audio novels were e-gifted to Dr. Punani, who received them on behalf of BPA.

Dr.Punani appreciated the quality and nuances of each audio novel. He said, “We welcome and receive the audio novels with great honor and appreciation. While the audio format is very powerful, it is the only format for people with visual impairment. Moreover, the human voice is more pleasing to people with visual impairment than an electronic voice.”

Sharing a story of a deaf-blind physiotherapist, he urged the students to also make audio novels on real-life characters.

Delving more into the topics and objectives, Prof.Kallol Das, Anchor Faculty of the Audio-Novel workshop, says, "This year, some of the topics like apathy, compassion fatigue, cancel culture, were new. The workshop witnessed the participation of 18 faculty colleagues in different capacities (i.e., lecturing, mentoring, jury). In the process, the students deepened their understanding of Meta-Skills - skills capabilities required to acquire any skills - to be effective lifelong learners."

Sharing his learnings, Govind Pillai, a CCC programme student, "The Audio Novel project was a truly refreshing experience that helped me explore storytelling beyond briefs and ads. As a student of CCC, we are taught to think out of the box, and come up with moving, gripping stories. The Audio Novel was a great example of how that can be applied to tell stories that actually matter, to highlight issues that the world is grappling with today. I felt the biggest learning came from the fact that six total strangers who think differently were put into a group, and what emerged was the product of collective effort, constructive criticism, and careful compromise."

Govind's team worked on the social issue of Hospital Waste Management and bagged the second position.

Kriti Dwivedi, whose audio-novel 'Baat Pakki' bagged the first position, said, "For all the team members, it was a completely new experience. At the very onset, the faculty members recommended we have a growth mindset that allowed us to learn at every step. As a result, we discovered how to structure our research properly, focus on nuances of sound while editing, and the impact a simple voice modulation can have on the overall listening experience."

'बात प%ी' is a story of two individuals who wish to enter into a lavender marriage (A marriage of convenience between a male and a female to conceal the socially stigmatized sexual orientation of one or both partners).

"The Audio Novel was our first event with the first-year PGP students in MICA. And suffice to say, it was a lot of fun. The best part was the coming together of different people with their talents and seeing them work together to create a final product that had their own touches. It was a great start for everyone to know the nuances of teamwork and bonding with new people", shared Ritubrata Sharma from the CCC programme. Ritubrata and his team worked on the social issue 'TV Debates -Legitimised Ruckus' that won the third position.

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