15 Jan 2008

The Nano, Ang Lee and the 100$ laptop

What does the first in common with the other two?

If look at how the western media sees them you can actually understand the negative response to Tata’a new car.

Ang Lee is the greatest among contemporary directors. If you look at Quentin Tarantino and Steven Sodeberg, their work has had its ups and down but Ang Lee has shifted genres and surprised us with each new film. His Crouching Tiger is the highest grosser for a Non English film even today. And yet no one would venture to say that he is the best. Simply because he is not white. (Remember the time when Martin Crowe was the best “white” batsman when Dilip Vengsarkar was burning the cricket pitches in the late 80’s.)

So one reaction to the Nano is to show that its not a big deal. Since it has not come out from the western world it is not good. The Economist describes it in very strange words "a product of impatience and chutpah". Not world class. Or innovative.

The other reaction is a naive one that is formed without an understanding of the world. Like the initial reactions to the 100$ laptop. When first announced the western press went about declaring that it was one of the best ideas to come out in recent times. Not realizing that most schools in developing countries do not even have access to libraries or blackboards. Some do not even have teachers. In such a situation it does not make sense to invest in laptops. India and Thailand rejected the idea and never joined the program. Now of course Intel has dropped out of the project and the laptop costs closer to 200$. (If only they had convinced China. They could have made it for 75$ !!!! with "original" Microsoft software)

Look at some of the reactions to Nano which actually achieved its goals in terms of costs and emissions laws. The Newsweek is quick to blame it for a new source of pollution. What new source of pollution? The car runs on petrol which was an idea that came from the Western world. Thomas (The World is Flat) Friedman says that the Nano "highly retrograde initiative from a country capable of incredible innovation". Obviously the world can only remain flat till India and China product cheap legal copies of western products or remain back end offices for big Western corporates.

Yes there are several problems with a cheaper car but one must remember that in the future the Nano might have affordable environment friendly technology. In any case given the present level of research it is easier to convert a smaller car to run on electricity than a large one. Already Tata is looking at a car that has no emissions !!!! Wake up GM and Toyota...

Instead of looking at this as an opportunity to engage other organizations in India and China to find innovative solutions to transport and the environment, the Western world has reacted in a way which shows they are scared of such invention coming out of this art of the world.

Thanks to G for pointing out the news about Tata and the Air Car.


Jyothi Unniraman said...

Three cheers!Now you can throw away your Indica and go for a Nano!This time A cannot blame me!

gautam chintamani said...

This one really speaks volumes about the West's, especially America's, take on anything more east than the East Coast!

Nano could very well be the I-Pod of cars and this is what giving the West sleepless nights. You really can't think of any product in the recent past that came out of Asia which had the potential to really alter the way things function. (Even the Rubick Cube was 'taken-over' by US!)

Cynics might crib about the Nano but had it or Ang Lee been Non-Asian creations then they'd be hailed as the next great thing. Thank god they weren't for we know what happens when Intel decides to flatten the world more!

Anonymous said...

Honestly, Nano is turning out to be dream car.
The car is surprisingly spacious and looks really good.
Also i have read all about its technical specifications...WHAT I AM WAITING FOR IS...

Its AC version! 600cc and AC??...well well...