It’s a question that was asked on churumuri.com by Pratap Sharma shortly after India’s exit from the World Cup: Just, what are we good at as a nation?
“We cannot make a single product—a car, a computer, a phone, a TV set, a plane, a submarine—that the world will queue up to buy. We cannot create a single magazine, newspaper or television channel that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the world. We cannot nurture a world-class University. We cannot build a laboratory or do pathbreaking research or making an earth shattering discovery. We cannot think of an Indian multinational. Etcetera.”
And it’s a question that was yesterday asked on The Hindu‘s Open Page by E.C. Thomas.
“It is highly creditable indeed that India is achieving a growth rate of 8 to 9 per cent in recent years. But it is incredible that with such a growth rate and abundance of technical manpower, Indian DNA is not on the products which rule the world such as personal computers, digital cameras, cell phones, iPods, DVD players, plasma television sets or medical breakthroughs like stent.
“The list is long. India has no products which have revolutionised the world scene. Or do we excel only in the development of revolutionary concepts like zero or in soft skills like computer software?
“Nor do we have innovative companies such as Google, Apple or Microsoft. Our IT giants are really glorified sub-contractors to the elite corporations of the world. Our great manufacturing enterprises are just makers of products engineered by others. Even celebrated businessmen such as Lakshmi Mittal just built on existing entities.”
Do we, as a species, lack the spirit of innovation, the ability to stray from the straight and narrow, and plough a lonely furrow? Does our middleclass upbringing result in our desire for safety-first job security? Is our learn-by-rote education system responsible for dousing the fire in our collective belly? Because of long years of colonial and outside rule, are we just good at serving our masters?
Also read: Pssst, just what are we good at as a nation?
Little perspective would help. How old are we as a nation ? Is US our model for this comparisons ? Very superficial stuff Indeed
You guys have forgotten the following…
But where high academic credentials are of no significance, our products are good. In the field of cinema or fashion or art or in writing we are trail-blazers. Arundhathi Roy did not go to an IIM. Rahman did not attend any premier music institution. So is painter Hussain or Satyajit Ray. If Bill Gates had completed his Harvard degree, perhaps he would have ‘languished’ as Chairman of IBM.
Still it is not anybody’s brief that a good education is not necessary. But innovative thinking should be a part of education and encouraged by design. Venture capitalists should extend a hand to innovative thinkers. Universities should ensure that researchers continue to do research. Young persons who have dreams should be saved from the shackles of suffocating straight jacket education to think freely.
Here the parents, universities, private business enterprises and the state should form a holy alliance with a hidden agenda to keep the fires of innovative spirit burning in the brilliant minds of our youngsters.
We should ensure that the best of us do not become available to the highest bidder.
This lends a different air to the whole thing, doesn’t it?
as you speak about ipod and other tech gaints i can present my view…
creating world class products is a different ball game to that palyed by our IT gaints like infy, wipro or satyam. Services is a short term way of making lot of money… with a education sytem like ours which produces engineers like that of a assembly line services is the only way out here…
“Great” products, being either the most recognizable/well sold or highly innovative are the result of great marketing or great innovative ability. We probably don’t lack the former, but are seriously deficient in the latter. Look at the state of our Universities and the quality of the “research” being done. Look at DRDO and our efforts at “localization”.
That said, I think there is much to be said for some concepts that have taken off from India. Dabbawallas and sachet FMCGs, to name two.
On the other hand, our companies were shackled by the Government for forty years. Give them another 10-15 years. Then we will be able to make a fair assessment of our companies along with the greatest. It is simply not fair to compare Microsoft/ Apple with Infosys. It is like comparing the Ramayana with a Jeffrey Archer novel. Great sales no doubt, but just not in the same league.
Why is the media hype on Haneef issue? Let us give the benefit of doubt to Haneef that he is not a terrorist, fine. If Australia govt has made a mistake, it is between the immigrant (who left the country for making good fortune) and that government. Why should media write reams and reams about him, tv continuously show clippings after clippings? To add fun, the CM of Karnataka wishes to employ him in the Government Service at a very serious level, as if this Haneef is a war hero! If that fellow had any respect for this country, he would have served this country as a doctor, after having studied in the country with the Government assistance.
I have read many rants on similar lines. I agree with what Gana says. The companies like google and MS are what could be called the tip of the iceberg.The actual powerhouses behind all of those companies are the universtities of US, thousands of them. That is the basis of American economy or any progressive counrty’s economy. Even if we observe post world war, countries like germany and japan, though uettrly devastated could bounce back in short time because they already had such excellent centres of learning. However counties like ours had very few and we couldnt. Development doesnt lie in development but in evolution.I guess in the next 50 years, we will all see many indian product companies listed on NYSE :)
thats alright, and explains the code coolies, but what about the quote coolies?
they have had ‘freedom’ for about 60 years now, and yet choose to swim in an “incestuous cesspool”. have an enviable pedigree of unique world view and a current kathvastu that could be sourced from atleast a billion sources and yet choose to regurgitate? what about the them who instead of enhancing and rejuvenating have used translated untested ideas to discard and discredit? who instead of procreating have chosen to simulate.
Personally I feel the reason being our interpretation of religion and our way of life..Today india is in the grip of pseudo-socialism blinded by superstition!
We cannot even have a good debate without cat fight!
Hinduism stinks because it’s rotten somewhere plus we have islam and other rebel religions and all these have hijacked our thinking and it’s very few that really have any idea about the role that culture plays in making or breaking the society! It’s the culture that drives innovation!
uppi sums it up in A –
“India is great! Indian culture is great! Indian heritage is great! Indian soil is great.. but….
INDIANS are not great. “
What is so great about products that we seem to think that they are the pinnacle of achievement? What is wrong with providing great services?
What is innovation? isnt churumuri.com such a concept? How about using coca-cola as pesticide? is innovation of a global consumer product an end by itself? What is worng in being a follower?
BTW – there is a incremental innovative revolution happening in agrarian India which you might not know. Please visit honey bee network – if this isnt innovation at work, i dont know what it is.
FYI – I have borrowed many ideas and bought many products from this and they are fantastic.
just off listening to terry gross’ fresh air on npr. apparently some co in H’bad, working off a garage, came up with the “brains” of the ipod. presented it to Apple and Apple as we all know… ran with it. ofcourse the manufacturing is in china. “the indian co gets some money, the chinese co gets some money, but the majority of the profits go to Apple” said the interviewee.
pardon the randomness. in no mood for a google look up and post details.
but i agree with G3S’ comment. services – is a product. further the model, reducing it all to a science, and making it all so obvious that even people who cannot tell a byte from a /2, IS innovation.
even people who cannot tell a byte from a /2 comment on it…
PortalPlayer who made the Chip for the ipod had a subsidiary at Hyderabad. At all times, the overall design and architecture was done at Santa Clara. Part of the work was outsourced, but to their own subsidiary. Not a ‘garage in Hyd’ or some random service company. Maybe npr had already decided on their story and just chose a random google link… Anyway google throws up this in-depth article:
But some of the guys who worked on the chipset may hopefully one day come up with a product. Who knows?
IMHO the real innovation India needs is in clean drinking water and clean toilets for all. I don’t give a rat’s ass about any other innovation! Once Indians start behaving like regular human beings and not as some stray animals defecating all over the place–whatever the station they belong to in life–consider that we made progress!
That said, we should learn to use water conservatively, resort to drip irrigation and get experts from Israel teach us how to do it better on a consistent basis. When all these things are happening it is nice to see a few Indian products on the world market. But we need not despair! No country in the world can go it alone in product engineering. Even the latest washing machine is designed in many places and finally assembled in one place.
Well said maga…
After all I can proclaim the greatest discovery from INDIA .
Our own designer ‘ PATA PATI CHEDDI’…..wear it and always gaali aading
Another avishkaar is ……….. Ladies wearing Nighties to Bank and mane kelsa …every where nighties rarajisuthe..if you go to have some maarning coffee in corner darshini …you can see ladies going walking, talking , dropping( kids to school ) , byanking,shapping etc with one and only dress ‘NIGHTY’.
“That said, we should learn to use water conservatively, resort to drip irrigation and get experts from Israel teach us how to do it better on a consistent basis.”
Getting experts from Israel a country India voted with Middle East Bloc to snuff out? Their help in military areas criticized? I agree 100% with you -the needs of the hour are clean drinking water with regular supplies for its masses, civilised habits and behaviours from the citizens, promoting meritocracy and treating its politicians as vermins. I would add that science needing encouragement as the next innovations are likely to be in the energy sector and India blessed with months of sunshine!
India for sure stinks. Many believe that it is a self made country, meaning that the govt has done absolutely nothing if not stopping/deteiorating the growth of the country and the entrepuners and engineers of this country ar the sole reason why the country is growing at this rate.
However, many dont understand that we are a ZERO at invention. Not in terms of making one, but the very attitude of creating lacks in Indian blood. Indians are only followers, they cant lead, they cant inspire.
Having said that, I appreicate India considering the diversity it has and the overflowing population, it still is trying to make an impact in the global market.
When Indian population drops to 200 million, it will have some hope of developing. Otherwise… it will stink.
i am student persuing my b.cm 1st yr from SIDDHARTHA college located at dilshuknagar as i have an project work on a topic of entrepuner’s
i would b pleased if u provide a statistical and also financial information as brief as possible and as soon as possible
i will be oblised for your concern upon a student
J. Navya Priyanka
D/o J. Raghu Kumar