When I first came to know about Tata’s Nano I was not skeptical like others. I was rather elated, I thought it as a very innovative idea that is going to impact the lives of millions of people like no other technology and in a very direct way.
India is a vast country and most parts of it does not have the luxury of favorable climate. The masses have to bear heat that can be at 50 degree Celsius during summer and bear cold that can go below zero in the northern parts of India. And when it rains it just pours. Just imagine millions of people traveling in these conditions in a bicycle or a motor cycle or in city buses which leak everywhere. Its painful and you have to give it to the strength of the people to endure such challenges.
Against this backdrop just imagine what an affordable car can do. Even though not all of the lower income population can still afford a 100,000 rupees car but I think at least 30-40% of them can trade their motor cylcle for a Nano. Its definitely a boon!!
There were lots of skepticism from various section of people – Suzuki’s boss said a 100,000 Rs car cannot be made without compromising on safety and pollution, some well-intended people said Indian roads are not ready for it so focus should be on improving the infrastructure first. The skepticism on the possibility front had been proven wrong to some extent by the prototype displayed in the Delhi Auto Show but the skepticism about the infrastructure could prove right.
I did not believe when people said that Indian roads are not ready . I thought these guys must have been paid by people who would not like Nano to succeed to utter such non-sense. But I realized this could in fact be the truth when I visited chennai last month.
I was traveling by car to my sister’s place one evening and I was shocked by the number of motor cycles in front of our car. They must have outnumbered the cars by 20:1 and the traffic was heavy and the maximum speed we could reach in the roads during that evening was 30 kph and we were at 25 kph most of the times. At this moment I thought about how the condition will be if you replace 50% of the two-wheelers by 4 wheelers. That thought was simple horrifying!! It made me realize India still has a long way to go before it can pride itself as a developed nation.
I believe that you cannot kill innovation just because the roads are not ready. Instead the focus should be on developing the infrastructure irrespective of cribbing that a small car can lead to congestion of Indian roads. Infrastructure is the blood stream of an economy, its a MUST which should be developed at all costs – with or without a Nano. Perhaps, Nano made people realize how pathetic the infrastructure is. Hope the government and industries focus their attention on this problem before a Nano brings the indian roads to a standstill.