An economy of Ideas

Growth rates, increasing GDP and all positive indicators are all that consume global and local airtime these days. Analysts are busy discussing the next big boom, Web 2.0 and all that. While all of us are living amidst high-profile cross-border billion dollar deals, I took to think a little differently while I was in Mumbai a couple of months ago.

Mumbai local trains are a country in themselves, if I should say so. Vendors, Office goers, Stock analysts, working women and a whole miscellany of other people. A particular hawker caught my attention there. What he was selling was an extremely simple toy. Two elliptical pieces of magnets when flung into air attract each other, dance and produce a cracking sound. Now that was ingenious. All that entertainment for INR 10 ! In minutes he's sold about 20 of them to the crowd in the compartment. No ad campaign, marketing plans, sales force, distribution network et al. I agree, he would not have manufactured the toy for certain. It must have been a produce of some far unknown place very much possible in China but in the scope of his business , he was the master - get the goods, know where to position them and sell it. But ofcourse, our household incomes increased in this rushing economy so that we have more cash at hand to engender a market for these toys.

Aren't we as people developing new and simple business models unique to the Indian environment ? eg . Mumbai trains and hawkers selling clean, cut and diced vegetables to women rushing home from downtown. I am aware of hawkers who's business depends totally on Gujarat bound trains from Mumbai and they could be selling anything, trinkets for your relatives your visiting or clothes or sarees or anything. Aren't we becoming an economy of individuals with a higher degree of smartness, of simple ventures and one man armies ? Though, not comparable to other developed nations, our belief in our own ideas and in translating them to ventures has increased a great deal in the last couple of years, call it reaping fruits of the liberalization. The agricultural growth rate of the country having gone down and a significant number of people that sector striving to make a living, migration to urban cities has increased and this has triggered these mini-businesses.

In whatever capacity, within limited resources, amidst large realty and infrastructure projects and IT companies growing into double billions, we are becoming a economy of not only of people, of industry but also an economy of 'Ideas'.

PS : After a long hiatus, I am back.


Hilibilly said...

I hear you and agree that its a great new revolution making its way out of the morass but unfortunately India still places too many roadblocks in the way of its micro-entrepreneurs.

I spoke to one of those guys very recently - he has no access to finance to purchase his wares to sell for the day so he takes a loan from the moneylender @ 1% (flat) per day - thats 365% pa if you annualize the loan. He's waiting for some microfinance institution to open up in his neighbourhood but knows that a slum-dweller is a high risk entity for any form of finance because of his mobility and lack of roots in Bombay.

50% of what he makes every day goes as 'hafta' to the following entities: policemen, local station hood and the train ticket collector.

Ameya said...

I guess thats the thought of most of the most of the young guys out there! Well said and completely agreed upon.
Quite a few things need to change and they are changing, although at a very slow pace currently. Hopefully the pace of change will gain impetus and it surely needs our generation to come forth and give a hand!
Anyway... keep writing and inspiring.