Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Culture of Averages and Playing Safe...

Indian's as a culture have the habit of being on the average. No one tries to be different. Everyone just wants to do something that is already being done better that the other people. No one cares to do different things, not even things differently. Those who want are even subdued by family pressures and such. Things have started looking better these days with people choosing to be independent and choosing careers different from the established career paths, but these are still quite an exception. Most people just finish the degree and then get into a big company or government job and are happy with the organic growth there. Else, they are working in their family business. No one dares to think completely out of the box.

Another thing with Indians is that even the entrepreneurs of India have rarely come up with something substantially different. Most of what they do are Indian versions of what already exist abroad or are copies of stuff. Any Indian who has done substantial research or innovation has done so because he broke shackles and left the country. Why does it have to be so? Why does India love to play safe?

I read an article a few days back which said that even venture capitalists in India would be willing to invest only in an idea that has shown success already, not in something that is revolutionary. If entrepreneurs and innovators cannot get funds, then how can they innovate? The only place where there is a scope of getting funds is in the government organizations. While I am not sure how easy or tough it is to get funds there, I am sure that being that fact that it is a secured job by itself would drive out innovation. I have also heard cases of seniors taking credit for findings of juniors, and thus driving the juniors to suicide and such. If such is the environment, then how would innovation prosper?

These days there is a lot of noise to make India or Indians job creators and not job seekers. How would we achieve this if we do not encourage people to think different, to take risks, to ask questions. If anyone has come up with an invention or an innovation, it has been because they challenged the norms or accepted practice. They asked the question, can this be done better, is there a better way to do this, can this effort be eliminated. The day people ask such questions and then work on finding a solution to that question rather than brushing it aside, India can hope to gain a distinction on the innovation map. Till then, I am not very hopeful.