It’s been some days when I was surfing past a Chetan Bhagat article and how on a common balance he weighs ‘the great Indian social network’. The idea of pulling the nation’s biggest corporate honchos into the kangaroo court seemed fascinating, and sounded like the ‘other side of the coin’. But fact is when there is not much of an ‘other side’, how do you relate the dead ends? You don’t write to the masses, just for the sake of sounding different and cool.
True, that India hasn’t done its bit on innovating the blue chip technologies. It’s understandable when Mr. Tata spoke out against the IISC not really fulfilling its sole objective of research meant to give a new direction to the nation. For India, innovation hasn’t been the key to success, post independence. But why is that so? Why is it that the premier institutions like the IIT’s and the IIM’s hardly offer their students an environment to sustain and nurture their creative minds? Why is it that they are prepared market ready? Ready to serve and cater to the world, making India today one of the foremost consumer driven nations of the world?
While the western nations got a head start in the philosophy of science and technology during the last century, India was still coming to terms with the British dominance. By the time it wrote its own freedom story, the development had to begin from scratch, and of course since then the nation has NOT gone through a very smooth ride, with Pakistan and China always keeping her heels warm, it was like a novice thrown into deep waters, desperately trying to keep its heads up.
Innovation is philosophy. It needs time, resources and finally truck loads of money. India had neither when you are looking at the world scene. America was miles ahead, Japan was top notch and even China was racing past her, with breakneck speed and discreet democracy. India was preparing to catch up with these, and innovation at that point of time was just like calculating the value of PI. The best that the Indian market unconsciously looked up to was the service industry, and today, we can say, they have done their job well… so that ordinary Indians can give smart aleck replies when people think of India as a land of snake charmers.
Resources are the next best thing. An average Indian works to make two square meals a day and the sun sets in the back drop for them. It’s all about money. When a child prodigy rises from the slums someday, in an inspired attempt to contradict what Newton said long back, or when he learns his mathematics twice as fast as an American, we celebrate in the newspapers, and the government gives him 10K rupees, and then, Microsoft and Goldman Sach
s comes and picks up the guy with a sweeping 100 million and the promise of the better cleaner life. When you are up against wealthy super powers competing for the best brains of the world, some brain drain is inevitable,
unless nationalism becomes a subject at school. This directly takes me to the third and the most beautiful thing: money. To sustain a system driven and empowered by innovation one needs a long term and steady flow of capitals. Innovation is a result of long standing failures and disappointments where you know that the cash flows might not bear much fruits. Innovation is something that needs to the inculcated and 1950’s era was definitely not the time that India could have contemplated about it. Hence the Indian market has moved and did so in an appropriate way and direction. Evolution is not a voluntary effort, it’s a survival strategy.
I had written before on the corporate moral responsibility, and the how the corporate do not play by the rules of
the games, for their own benefit. Somewhere I have heard that there is a very basic thing that is being taught at the management levels, that you don’t do what you are good at. You do what the people are good at. In other words, India being a service oriented industry, we see more of tea-to-telecom conglomerates. Again contradicting Chetan Bhagat, it seems like we have one of the largest diversified conglomerate situated in the US. When the author draws lines of chastity between the Indian billionaires and one Mark Zuckerberg, he says that “For, only in the USA, can a boy in his 20s, coming from nowhere, create a company worth billions in six years, and the country celebrates him by making a movie on him.”
When the likes of Tata’s and the Ambani’s started their business, I guess they came from an alien planet. Their story was fascinatingly more rags-to-riches. From simple village bums to one geneartion billionaires, I guess they deserve more praise and applause than the face book founder at least in this respect. And if I am not forgetting my facts, Zuckerberg too wasn’t an epitome of honesty, lest America celebrate its youngest billionaire. And moreover you also need to keep an eye on the scope of the market. Originality doesn’t come in dozens. If we are to care only for originals and not for acquisitions, then India would still have been licking the Chinese butt. Yes prodigal ideas must be hailed, a genius must be given more than what he can get in a first world country, but he must do his own homework to make money. Remember Britain is not what it is today because it innovated, but because the sun never used to set in the British Empire. Corruption is a value- to be precise a negative one. And values are ingrained in the human mind passed on by generations and it takes even more time to make the bad habits go away. It cannot be wiped out or even reduced if a handful of corporate joining hands not to bribe ministers. If they don’t other will, the minister shall get richer and the corruptors fatter. The root needs to be nipped at the bud. And what better place is it to start nipping than the appalling and the unorganized educational system of the nation? Now that’s a different story altogether.