If we can get a car for one lakh, why can’t we…

Ramesh Ramanathan, the former Citibank executive who founded the NGO Janaagraha in Bangalore, has an excellent column in Mint, the business paper of the Hindustan Times group, today, on the “inspirational lamp” that the Tata Nano lights up.

There are, he says, hundreds of challenges in India where the lessons of the Nano can be applied—design innovation, scale efficiency, vendor networking and so on.

# “Imagine if we could get a CT scan cost down to Rs500, offer a heart surgery for a few thousand rupees or a gall bladder surgery for under a thousand. This requires a fundamental redesign of all the parts of the health-care delivery system—from re-engineering individual components such as the CT scan, to embedding these into scaled health “cities” that can get a critical mass of 10,000 outpatients a day.

#”The second example is in housing. In urban India alone, we need to build more than 26 million homes to meet projected demand until 2012, and more than 95% of this is for the poor. If we ignore government subsidized programmes, and focus on market-driven solutions, we need to build homes with an all-in cost of Rs2-2.5 lakh for land and building, so that the EMI is around Rs2,500. Given current land costs and FSI/FAR (floor space index/floor area ratio) ratios in urban India, this translates to a construction cost of about Rs300-400 per sq. ft for a 400 sq. ft dwelling. Imagine the kind of demand that can open up if we can change the engineering specifications, reduce the cost-per-unit by scale economies, improve the construction process, and deliver a product that might not have marble floors, but doesn’t compromise on quality.”

Read the full article: The Nano inspiration