ByÂ Catherine Nipps:
“But beyond the bright searchlights of science, Out of sight of the windows of sense, Old riddles still bid us defiance, Old questions of Why and of Whence.” ~ Sir William Cecil Dampier Whetham
About 40 years ago, before television was a part of our daily lives, the Bournvita Quiz Contest (BQC) went on air, and people all over India listened as Hamid Sayani and then his brother, Ameen brought quizzing home to India. Soon, afternoons spent listening to BQC on the radio became a part of the lifestyle in many homes across the country. I know that I’m a part of that generation that might remember waiting eagerly for BQC to start every Sunday afternoon, with Derek O’Brien as the quizmaster when the show was introduced on television twenty years later.
The 80’s and the early 90’s saw quizzing become a household name in India with the arrival of many popular shows like the Bata’s North Star Quiz and Siddhartha Basu’s Quiz Time and later, India Quiz. The craze and popularity for quizzing and general knowledge was at its peak and as a result, dozens of quiz shows and competitions popped up everywhere. Many of these ended up being dumb game shows, rather than actually being about learning and seeking knowledge. However, the bar was raised after Mastermind India made its debut on Indian television in 1998 with its unique format of written tests, rapid fire rounds and superior content. Apart from the United Kingdom, India is the only country where this program was conducted.
Then, of course, came the most popular reality game show that Indians today confuse with actual quizzing. Kaun Banega CrorepatiÂ which went on air in the year 2000 had all its i’s dotted and its t’s crossed; it found a charismatic and extremely popular host in Amitabh Bachchan; had simple rules, straightforward questions, middle class participants, and tons of money. It brought quiz mania to a new high, which is still going strong today because of this mantra.
In 2004, Tata Crucible a high quality business quiz conducted by the Tata group for the sharpest corporate minds in India generated huge response and became an annual event which has a great following even today. The Brand Equity Quiz and NDTV’s Croma Tech Grandmasters are some of the other business quiz shows quite popular these days.
All the while when quiz programs and game shows were busy becoming a rage on television, in the background there was a different kind of quizzing culture that was brewing in Engineering and Business colleges across India. For hardcore, serious quizzers and learning enthusiasts, this type of quizzing slowly became dominant in colleges over the last decade. It started with a few groups and quiz clubs in campuses across India which later led to a spurt of quiz blogs, websites dedicated to hardcore quizzing and treasure hunts, and hundreds of Facebook pages and groups.
Today, if you ask college students, especially those with Engineering and Business backgrounds, what exactly is quizzing? They’ll tell you, it’s all about self-learning and opening the mind to new possibilities to absorb knowledge, which has no bounds. Contrary to popular belief, quizzing is not about mugging up facts and answers. It’s a continuous, never-ending process of challenging yourself; a mind sport, if you may. It is much more than a test or an exam. Today, it’s a culture; a way of life.
The only thing is that this culture has largely been underground in the recent years with a lack of good quizzing websites or online portals, and it desperately needs to be revived and shared. This is where a new Indian start up comes into notice. Making a niche for itself in this way of life is a young company, Quizot headed by quizzing buffs and childhood friends, Varun Jain and Akshay Bajaj. It was founded by them when they felt the need to create something fresh and compelling not just for quizzers but for anyone who was interested in learning something new. With its fresh, and superior content, Quizot which was launched just two months ago, is already creating waves in the quizzing circuit. As one eager follower says, “Quizot is online quizzing finally being done right!” The young team hopes to develop it as a learning platform; focusing specifically on the type of learning that is done apart from regular studies. In the world of quizzing where just like before, there are hundreds of others, fake and real, who are trying to make it every day, I hope in earnest that Quizot manages to differentiate itself and create something sustainable.