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Archive for January, 2008

A STAR is born

Posted by g.e. on January 10, 2008

Truly a landmark event for the automotive world. Barely a decade into the free-enterprise mode, Tata has unveiled a game changing product called Nano. And looks like this is going to get an awful better.

The next time people say look at Apple they are the model of innovation blah blah blah, we can say “dude, these guys invented the friggin Nano. Have you heard of it”. 

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Tata on Tata

Posted by g.e. on January 4, 2008

A little surprised that Tata is going to retire soon after his People Car. 
From FT’s Faces of Enterprise: Tata’s small car, which the Cornell-trained architect helped design, is slated to appear at the Delhi Auto Show on January 10. It will sell for Rs100,000 ($2,550, €1,730, £1,275) – a rupee figure known in India as one lakh – and bring motoring to a mass market. With a new plant in West Bengal able to make 250,000 a year, the “one-lakh car” will more than double Tata’s car capacity. “Mr Tata encourages us to take big, calculated risks,” says Ravi Kant, Tata Motors’ managing director. 

On concerns that his People’s Car will add to carbon footprint: “We’re producing a car that will be no more polluting than a motorcycle,” he says. “As we’re not going to produce millions and millions of them, inundating the country, we will not be adding to the carbon footprint on a per-passenger basis.”“The only reason we didn’t make the one-lakh car a hybrid, for example, is that it could not have been priced at one lakh,” Mr Tata says.Snubs have tended to spur the Tatas to greatness. When Jamsetji Tata, the group’s founder, proposed making steel girders for the Indian railways in 1907, Sir Frederick Upcott, a colonial administrator, famously offered to eat every rail it made. A hundred years later, with Tata snapping up the remains of the British steel industry, westerners scoff at their peril, risking the wrath of a government and business community that sees the group, two-thirds of whose shares are held by charitable trusts, as a role model for corporate India.  

While there, don’t miss this beautiful piece on 1lac rupee car and inclusiveness by ET’s Tarun Das:
The criticism that it is not feasible — which was the first reaction — is now put to rest. No one talks about this anymore. The car has been designed, is ready and will be on public display in January at Auto Expo in Delhi. So, it is a physical reality and others are now striving to make small low-cost cars according to a variety of announcements from time to time. This is a positive trend and all to the good. Tatas are clearly first off-the-block but competition is being promised and the consumer will be the beneficiary and the winner. 

The other concern expressed relates to the environment. This is the most surprising criticism because no one is urging, for a moment, that car manufacture be stopped or curtailed because of environment concerns. And big cars, which are relatively bigger gas guzzlers, are not being attacked. A new small, low-cost car, which is likely to be relatively more fuel efficient is being questioned and commented upon in connection with the environment. Is there more to this than meets the eye? How can anyone criticise the small car and not the big car or cars as a whole? Additionally, why not question anything on wheels which consumes petrol or diesel?

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India’s new exports

Posted by g.e. on January 3, 2008

See here:

Despite an improved economy, many Japanese are feeling a sense of insecurity about the nation’s schools, which once turned out students who consistently ranked at the top of international tests.  That is no longer true, which is why many people here are looking for lessons from India, the country the Japanese see as the world’s ascendant education superpower. Bookstores are filled with titles like “Extreme Indian Arithmetic Drills” and “The Unknown Secrets of the Indians.”  Newspapers carry reports of Indian children memorizing multiplication tables far beyond nine times nine, the standard for young elementary students in Japan. Indian education is a frequent topic in forums like talk shows. Popular books claim to reveal the Indian secrets for multiplying and dividing multiple-digit numbers. Even Japan’s conservative education ministry has begun discussing Indian methods, said Jun Takai of the ministry’s international affairs division.   

 But, God, please, this can not be the right answer..

Most annoying for many Japanese is that the aspects of Indian education they now praise are similar to those that once made Japan famous for its work ethic and discipline: learning more at an earlier age, an emphasis on memorization and cramming, and a focus on the basics, particularly in math and science.     

Link to Little Angels in Mitaka.

Btw here is an ancient export that may save some sneeze. Makes me wonder what else they tried before zeroing in on salt.

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On cycle rickshaws

Posted by g.e. on January 3, 2008

Just when India is trying to phase-out rickshaws, the world is beginning to adopt them. See here.

Cycle rickshaws may not conform to the Delhi police’s view of what makes a modern city, but many capitals of more developed countries are beginning to see them as part of the solution to environmental problems. They can now be seen in London, Oxford, Paris, Singapore –even New York City, where they are called pedicabs. And London’s considering a system of licensing for cycle rickshaws.   

And the communists get it wrong again:

It’s not the first time an Indian city has tried to get rid of rickshaws. Calcutta tried recently to ban the hand-pulled variety, the city’s communist authorities arguing these leftovers from the days of the British Raj are inhumane. But the rickshaw pullers don’t see it that way and so far they’re refusing to give way.   

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