Saturday, January 26, 2008

Organised Micro-Innovation is the Key to New India

Micro-Innovation is not new. Several organisations are already in place trying to tap the rural innovation, individual innovation etc. etc. I am talking about institutionalised micro-innovation. Something like creating a super-computer using the networked millions of home-computer.
To be expanded....

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rejoinder to Tata Nano

'पैसा आने से अमीरी नही आती, अमीरी की आदत डालनी पड़ती है"(Luxury is a habit, not a perk)- I heard this dialogue in a soap opera. India is yet to get used to the new found wealth. When I drive the car, I am not only careful about the way I drive, but I am also account for other's hap hazard driving (usually two wheelers). This creed of two wheeler owners who go criss-cross on road, will start driving cars on day (Nano) and soon they would understand the problems they used to create. I think it would be a win-win situation :).

Lighter note aside, I am dead serious about certain public best practices falling in place once a SYSTEM of good infrastructure falls in place. Vashi railway station in New Bombay is an example of this. It was one of the path breaking step in Station Building as far as India is concerned. People had not seen sparkling granite flooring in station buildings 10 years back. everyone was sarcastic about the concept "hmm...what about the paan-spitters, that plague India) ". Well, this station survived the paan-eaters. People behaved. It is no more about 'India is like this only'...it is just wealth, well applied... my dear.

Tata Nano

One can call this a phenomenon of the year. The amount of media coverage and raging debates it has generated is unparalleled in the recent times. World is just about to understand the term '1 lakh'. I wont be surprised if it is inlcuded in the dictionary in the coming years like 'bazaar' and 'pyjama'.

Autorishaw drivers see the silver lining in it. It is an achievable dream. They can afford to buy it and replace the old rickety contraption they were cursed with, which saves them neither from hot and sultry climate and nor from rain. 8 million 2 wheeler buyers in India (one can assume that out of them at least 4 million would be just bike owners -without any 4 wheeler ownership), who dream of one day owning a car, can make this dream come true. I used to wonder and pity Indian traffic policemen, who themselves have never driven a car, usually make money on 2 wheeler owners. They rarely stop a car to check the papers and license. Probably there is some colonial remanents in that interaction which stops them from questioning the car drivers. I guess, Nano is going to level that off.

Auto-rickshaw should be called an inspiration for Nano. As a design student I have seen a million attempts on redesigning Autorikshaw for modern Indian cities. But none saw the light of the day. One wonders was Bajaj, the owner and maker of legendary autorikshaws, sleeping all this while on this gold mine? They could have easily made variants of this three wheeler that would be styled nicely enought to entice a family car-aspirant. Monopoly is the mother of lethargy in the orgnisation. Modern times where competition only survives on high adrenalin of innovation, such legands are doomed to go the Darwin's way.

There have been several voices of Indian roads choking to death with 8 million Nano on roads in next few years. When a rich man buys a hummer that guzzles the gallons on road, or keeps 4 cars for a family of three, is it not an atrocity on road? I think every one should have a fair chance of polluting and enjoying life :). As a reader of Trends I can assure that a counter trend would alreayd set in by the time Nano reaches its peak i.e. return to two wheelers. Those who want a bet, get in touch.

Last but not the least, I read reviews and reviews of this car. No designer was named for this styling/innovation. Mr. Ratan Tata was the sole designer and visionary. Styling/Industrial Design must have played a role here for sure, but it was rather puny in front of other innovations in supply-chain, engine design, engineering materials and distributions strategy it seems to have pulled off. 'Design myopia' can never get a better panecea than this. This is the begining of India thinking in design on a broader level. Indian sensibilitites in design relate to 'Indian usability' more than 'Indian aesthetics' (at least as of now).

That all for now!! I am awaiting an Indian luxury brand with as much curiosity!!