Kozhikode: The third-term MP from the state capital, Dr. Shashi Tharoor said that ‘Visit India’ would have made for a better national initiative than ‘Make in India.’ International studies have revealed that the tourism sector is capable of providing eight-fold the employment as compared to industry on a similar amount of investment.
Moreover, it can accommodate more numbers of semi and unskilled labour, vulnerable classes being marginalised by globalisation, as compared to industry. He was delivering a talk on the subject of “Importance of Innovation for today’s Entrepreneur” organised by Calicut Management Association.
The former senior UN official said that according to International Labour Organisation by 2020, India will have 11.6 crore workers in the work-starting age bracket of 20 to 24 years, as compared to China’s 9.4 crore. It is further estimated that the median age in India by the year 2020 will be 29 years as against 37 in China, 46 in Europe and 47 in Japan.
To employ this workforce we will have to create 84 lakh job opportunities every year, which aim cannot be met by the ‘Make in India’ initiative. For this demographic dividend to pay off we have to generate adequate employment opportunities. Failure to do so will further contribute to domestic insurgency on the lines of the one that still plagues the Hindi heartland.
The fomer central minister in both UPA governments said that googling the phrase ‘frugal innovation’ will show that first twenty hits will all be from India. Indians are born leaders in this field, with our nimble ‘jugaad’ system of developing makeshift but workable solutions from available limited resources.
This is far superior to “making do.” He mentioned such examples as the farmer who will attach a water pump to a bullock cart or fashion a makeshift vehicle to transport livestock and the makeover of a centrifugal washing machine to churn out lassi’ in volumes for our hot summer. Or the dabbawalas of Mumbai, whose remarkable error-free efficient delivery system operating on code is the subject of case studies at Harvard. However, the acme of Indian frugality to him is our unique invention - the missed call - on par with the concept of zero.
The former diplomat stressed the continued need for entrepreneurs to tap into the bottom of the pyramid, which accounts for 25 per cent of Indian consumers. The successful introduction of the shampoo sachet at re. 5 making it universally available best exemplified this frugal innovation, which was later theorised about by the late management guru, C K Prahalad.
At the other end of the technological scale is the staggeringly miserly, by space exploration standards, re. 450 crore we spent on ‘Mangalyaan’ mission to Mars, a little less than the special effect costs for the Hollywood space movie ‘Gravity,’ and about 11 percent of the cost of NASA’s latest Maven’ Mars program.
Even in the medical field, he said the value for money innovations have beaten down prices much to the benefit of the third world countries. Indian Hepatitis B vaccine costs less than one-tenth of its cost in the west. Insulin prices have fallen by 40 percent, thanks to an Indian innovation. A Bengaluru company has developed a diagnostic tool to test for tuberculosis and infectious diseases costing fifty times less than comparable equipment in the west.
The best-selling author spoke glowingly of GE MAC 400, a hand-held ECG device that is cheaper by two and a half times than in the west. It uses just four buttons, rather than the usual dozen, and a tiny portable printer, making it small enough to fit into a satchel and even run on batteries. It has reduced the cost of an ECG to a $1 equivalent per patient.
Dr. Tharoor also mentioned with pride ‘Tata Swachh,’ a water purifier ten times cheaper than its nearest competitor, which uses rice husks, one of most common rural waste products. Given that some fifty lakh Indians die of cardiovascular diseases every year, and another twenty lakh from drinking contaminated water, the value of these innovations is incalculable.
Other low-cost innovations he enumerated included a fuel-efficient mini-truck, an inexpensive mini-tractor being sold profitably in the US, a battery-powered refrigerator, an electricity inverter, and a solar lamp.
CMA president K A Ajayan presided over the function. Secretary Anil Balan welcomed the august gathering, with engineer E R Ananda Mani introducing the distinguished guest and Sr. V P of CMA, K T Thomas, proposing a vote of thanks. Before the event, Abhinand P S, a plus one student of Sivapuram GHSS, Balussery regaled the audience with a talk on science. The child prodigy, an achiever and participant in multi-directional science and technology fields with accent on space, was introduced to Dr. Tharoor.