Innovation and Entrepreneurship at XIMB

“Be Indian, fly Indian” could have been the subliminal message that they wanted to convey when they (whoever they are) decided that it would be good to change the name of the airline to “Indian” from “Indian Airlines.” As I have pondered that change of name before on this blog, I will move on. I only mention this because yesterday I was flying Indian to get from Mumbai to Bhubaneswar. I am attending the “International Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation” at the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar.

Innovation, I suppose, is the opposite of tradition. Some traditions don’t make sense to me, I thought, as I sat back and enjoyed my Indian flight. Why on earth do I have to be informed that the outside air temperature is “42 degrees below zero Celcius”? It is unlikely that I am going to step outside for a bit, or even that I would open the window for some fresh air, isn’t it? It must be a hangover from those days when you could stick your head out of the plane to take a better took at the countryside, and someone yelled at you to “shut that bloody window, it’s cold out there!”

Talking of flying, I wonder when will they stop giving instructions on how to fasten the seat belt. It is as useful as giving instructions to people how to use the loo.

Actually, I spent more time sitting in the stationary plane than actually flying. Mumbai’s airport is congested. It cannot handle the traffic, just like Mumbai roads. We pushed back on time and then sat around for an hour burning fuel before we took off. The pilot informed us of the delay up front. Said that we were sixth in position to take off. Which basically meant that on average around that time, one plane was taking off every 10 minutes. Wow! The Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport is perhaps designed to handle the air traffic around Shivaji’s time.

Talking of which, have you ever wondered why virtually all Indian institutions and major landmarks are named after rulers? They don’t use the names of, say, scientists, writers, thinkers, philosophers, musicians, artists, technologists, sages, gods and goddesses (India has tons of very beautifully named ones). They only use the names of rulers — present day the rulers are called politicians, of course. I arrived at the Biju Patnaik (politician) Airport at Bhubaneswar. I have a theory about this naming of parts.

We Indians are an illiterate lot and have a long history of feudalism and quite a history of being ruled by invaders and then by the British. So Indians know the names of the ones they are ruled by and not much else. If we were collectively scientifically literate, we would hold great scientists in high regard and name things after them, for instance. What we call our cities, towns, roads, schools, universities, stations, airports–the whole lot–speaks to who we are. “Aurangzeb Road” in New Delhi, for instance. A major road in the capital of India named after a tyrant who killed a fair number of Indians. This really puzzles me. Why do they continue to glorily the names of invaders and tyrants? Is it just plain ignorance of history or is it something even worse, such as inferiority complex that makes the collective afraid of acknowledging that sordid past when they were slaves.

Anyway, I am off to attend the conference. I will post something about it the next time. Bye for now.

9 thoughts on “Innovation and Entrepreneurship at XIMB

  1. Jayant Saturday January 13, 2007 / 12:32 pm

    Atanu,
    As always – precise und to the point. The misnaming of things “Indian” (also a misnomer) has been one of my pet peeves. Name and rename and sometimes re-rename. And that bit about “illiterate bunch”…sad but true.
    Greetings from Bangalore or should I say “Bengaluru”!

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  2. Jayant Saturday January 13, 2007 / 12:34 pm

    Sorry, I have just been informed that Bengaluru has been changed to “Bendakaluru”!

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  3. Doesnt Matter Sunday January 14, 2007 / 11:15 am

    Guess you are being too sarcastic.
    What i sthe harm if they tell you the temperature outside is -42. I guess there are people other than you sitting in that craft who might well enjoy these small things. Ask the kid siting on your next seat – did he not appreciate that piece of news.
    And not everybody fllies as regularly as you do. For someone it might be the forst time. So for them it is eqally important to be told how to buckle the seat belt and use the oxygen masks.
    Remember when we were kids, we were taught loo manners.so in one way it is similar to teaching someone how to use loo.
    And as far as changng the name Indian is concerned, What is the issue? Be it Indian or IA or anything else, Mumbai airport wud be congested for all..not even the best airlines in the world would escape that @ mumbai airport, so I guess that is not a problem of Indian.

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  4. Human Blasphemy Sunday January 14, 2007 / 1:58 pm

    Dear Atanu,
    I heard you during your session on RISC at XIMB. One of the members asked you a question whether Rural Infrastructure can be developed through people’s participation and through microfinance. Which according to you is not possible, because large infrastructure projects have to be completed at one go. But the problem is that why will any private company invest in rural infrastructure? You only said that i dont know how it will be possible.

    I believe you will agree that in future Microfinance will not remain microfinance it will become SM-finance [Small and medium finance. We have already seen the examples of increased limits of credit in Andhra Pradesh, where Mf loans have reached upto Rs5lakhs. Through Microfinance, we can go for rural infrastructure development through following 4 measures:

    1. Framework for expanding contours of MFI roles and financial limits
    2. Modification of Regulatory Framework
    3. Integrating Private Institutions with MFI’s and Community [venture cap n equity]
    [SKS Microfinance is attracting VC, which can also be applied to RID]

    YOUR SUGGESTIONS ARE AWAITED ON THIS ISSUE.
    =======================================
    According to the theory of economic developement you suggested, the innovation has to be done at top level, then later on when competition will grow, it will be affordable to the masses. You also gave the example of Mobile phones.

    I believe that this theory is successful for the technology sectors.When we talk about growth, we are also concerned with people’s development. YouR example can be negated by the fact that if we allow big companies to grow and capture the markets, the small and medium enterprises will never be able to grow. Big companies will not ALLOW them to grow once they see them as a threat. In that case the open markets will not become open markets, they will actually be the oligopolistic or monopolistic. And in the developing countries where large chunk of industries consist of small industries, the top down approach will not be helpful.

    We have to allow small companies to grow and them many of them will become large companies. So the bottom up approach is successful if implemented properly. The reason of failure of this approach is not that it is flawed, but because it is not supported by those who are able to invest in it.

    The example of Orissa can be given, where government is encouraging industrilization at large pace, but not able to develop people at the same pace. The result is the improper usage of resources [Economics deals with optimal usage of resources] and there are no rules or regulations in the state. If people are not ready and they are not able to use the resources the industries are generating, what is the use of industrialization. At the later stage the economy will be in a chaos and government will not be able to implement any regulations. People are already opposing such practices. Because they are not ready, or you can say they dont know that it will be beneficial. In such case first Bottom should be developed and not the top.

    YOUR VIEWS ARE AWAITED.

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  5. triya Sunday January 14, 2007 / 7:53 pm

    Ooow! to hear the fallacial arguments of monopoly over and over again. If people are not ready for such industries, such industries should not exist, and the government should not be doing anything to promote such industries in the first place. The simple argument against the possibility of monopoly is this. If you find these big industries offensive and if you really feel bad that they are preying on small and medium industries, why do you choose to keep them in business by buying their products? If consumers really did not like these big corporates, why would they repeatedly go and purchase their products which are “higher priced” than the shop round the corner which is a good old “Indian” mom and pop store, where the prices are lower. After all you lament that these guys are being driven out of the market by the big monopolies. Who is driving them out of the market? The big company or you the consumer? Is any big corporation forcing you under gun point to buy their products? There are alternatives to every product and a market system will always promote the production of that which the consumer demands unlike a state run system like in India the first few decades after Independece. Can you imagine for ages we had to rely on Bata shoes which could not even last a single school season? Consumers could not exercise their right to choice because all kinds of industries were a government monopoly. How come no one ever thinks that the government is the worst monopoly of them all? Neither does it not have any incentive to produce what the consumer wants nor is there any case for efficency economic or otherwise.

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  6. Ashish Tuesday January 16, 2007 / 12:37 am

    My comment was moderated or went missing in technicality? When I submitted, it said something like comment has been flagged for moderation queue.

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  7. mm Tuesday January 16, 2007 / 11:20 pm

    Talking of flying, I wonder when will they stop giving instructions on how to fasten the seat belt.

    Airlines would need to give you that information about seatbelts and oxygen masks, just to protect themselves from potential suits no ?

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