India Needs Schools Not Silicon Valley
Imitating Silicon Valley Won’t Solve India’s Problems.
Startups are the new magic wand. It will achieve what agriculture could not. Or it will advance us in a way that industries could not. Or MOOCs will teach us better than past’s education system.
This cycle never stops. Tata imitated the steel plants. So did India’s PSUs. Then we imitated Detroit. Then we imitated telecom. Now we want to imitate Silicon valley.
Best Indian Startups Are Copies
Flipkart is our best startup. 2nd best is Snapdeal. 3rd best is Quikr or Ola or Shop Clues Or Ask Me. One theme runs common. It is imitating or copying a business from the west and scaling it up. Just that we call it by different names. We finance it through different ways.
Government Didn’t Build Silicon Valley
Imitating successes from around the world will not help. Silicon valley thrives on three hundred years of culture of collegiate education, research and free enterprise. It happened because government stayed out of it. It did not happen because USA’s President decided to build a hotbed of startups.
Public Goods Are More Important
I am reading Why Civlizations Fail. It says that Mexico and California have similar geographies, people and companies. Yet, California thrives and Mexico does not. If there is one country which can easily imitate Silicon Valley, it is Mexico.
Indian Needs Public Goods More Than Startups
Ajay Shah, an Indian economist often writes that failure in delivering public goods hurts us the most.
Lofty visions without the fundamentals such as literacy, quality education, infrastructure, inadequate beauracracy, cronyism of most econonic activities will not take us to Denmark.
Or Startups That Can Deliver Public Goods
I worry more about copying than not copying. It isn’t wrong to learn. Humanity advances when it learns. It is wrong when we become blond and copy. Or even if it’s worthy of copying, we do not do it in the right way. More than half of India does not have toilets. Majority does not have electricity. More than 90% do not have personal means of transport, which is because our public transport is in shambles.
Governments have always been telling people about a perfect future. Once it was rural India, then socialist India, then mixed India, then industrial India, then telecom India and now it’s startup India. It never happened. Numbers tell that three fourth of India earns less than INR 5000/ month. So, why not work on the basics as much.
Focus On Two Things
- One, law and order available for all. Today is it not like that. Well off people have better access to policing, courts and beauracracy. At the same time it should not happen at the cost of doing business. We should avoid the socialist trap.
- Two, make cities better.
Urban centres are the engines of growth. Varanasi, Mysore, Indore, Dhaka, Lahore and Thrissur were the places where glorious India happened. Let’s develop them again. Trust humans who are not as well read as Stephenians, IITians, Oxfordians or USAians. Give them an opportunity. See how they can change the landscape.
Leave Silicon Valley Alone
Current civilization is the proof that without governments we could come this far. To go farther we need less of it, not more. And, it is the job of the citizens to create another silicon valley or motor valley or solar valley or their own valley. Let’s learn from Silicon Valley, not recreate.