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Old 1st June 2015, 22:10   #31
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

Human brains have different capabilities according to race. We are better than the Chinese when it comes to IT problem solving. We are better at multitasking than the Brits or the Americans. We are probably great as cultural thinkers primarily because of our heritage.

We are also great at copying and improving on the original design like the Japanese and to some extent the Chinese. We might come up with ideas to save costs in the indian context, say, while developing an automobile for india. We would be aware of how to arrive at short cuts to do anything better than the whites can ever hope to, but we will never come up with great technological inventions because it is just not in our genetic DNA.

Lack of opportunity, lack of potential and lack of funding are typical lame indian excuses which is another skillset we have in our DNA.

So have we ever come up with any significant technological invention since the beginning of time?

Well, yes, if you count the Pushpak Viman in the Ramayana.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 02:31   #32
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

Glad someone brought up Elon. I have always wondered why the mighty Ambanis, the TATAs, the Birlas or the Malyas are never ever associated with a piece of technology. I kept wondering if they ever invest a million of theirs in to developing something, creating some thing. It's quite intriguing to think of it.

Why never once, even by accident? Like someone pointed out already. I guess they are all the middle men. People in India don't believe in creating stuff. We believe in zero sum games. If you want to get rich, you should steal from someone, no other way.

After US and China, India should be the incubator for innovation, for there is such a big market and a stable democracy. I tried hard, I can't think of a reason other than 'it's in our blood, we are programmed to be (or not to be!).
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Old 2nd June 2015, 04:53   #33
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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Originally Posted by sreeharipv View Post
Glad someone brought up Elon. I have always wondered why the mighty Ambanis, the TATAs, the Birlas or the Malyas are never ever associated with a piece of technology. I kept wondering if they ever invest a million of theirs in to developing something, creating some thing. It's quite intriguing to think of it.


Every country goes through its own stage of Industrialization. USA had its own stage with Rockefeller (Oil King and supposedly the richest man in human history), Andrew Carnegie (Steel King), JPMOrgan (banker industrialist) so on so forth. These were their Ambanis and titans who were bigger than the system.

India is USA in 1940s or 1950s. Maybe the years I just gave out are not right but you get the point. USA didn't have small guys back then too who could just come out with a nice product and change the world. I believe Rockefeller killed many small time entrepreneurs who tried to threaten his business.


Also it would be unfair to belitte Ambani or Tata. TCS does cutting edge stuff. They are the primer server of comm tech to Formula 1. Ferrari's F1 cars used to run with TATA logos a while back.

Mukesh Ambani may not be likable but his father was an extraordinary man. Reliances still owns the largest refinery in the world. So in a sense we do have our own industrial SpaceX I guess.


Also, many people here pointed out at Elon Musk investing when there was no hope for survival. Great point.

This is a huge cultural point. Indians are a stingy lot and are extreme tightwads. No Indian with real Indian upbringing would want to lose money in an investment, the mere thought of it would make him pee.

What kind of Indian wants to go out there and make revolutionary technology with the probability of losing 80-90% of his investment ? NOBODY ! Even now look at all the big fat indian billionaires - all they do is invest in safe businesses with big competitive moats and attractive financial statements.

TESLA and SpaceX have never made a profit in history. They are losing money on keeping shop open. Elon Musk is a madman ( in a good sense), and Indian Elon Musk may exist, but his cultural upbringing and family would have geared him to back out of such ridiculous grandiose thoughts during their inception.

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Old 2nd June 2015, 09:34   #34
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

Extremely engaging discussion!

Well; could not resist posting this a fairly off topic question -

Is the idea of Tesla car in India really feasible?

P.S. - I am putting this question forward as answers for this question would be both ways really; pessimistic or optimistic.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 09:42   #35
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

Its the market. Once there is a demand, there will be people who will rise up. I dont think there is anything wrong with people other than the fact that we get involved in solving lot of innovative problems we have created for ourselves.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 09:50   #36
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

This might look to be contradicting to my previous statement that it's not prime time for electric cars yet. Note that I was talking short term as in now or in six months.

Teslas have a huge huge market in India if the cards are played right. For:

1. They depreciate much slower compared to a merc owing to the difference in technology, auto update etc. Indian's see cars as investments although they aren't really.

2. Indians are ready to put up with high upfront cost (read investment) for lower running cost (we think this is the money that we lose and the investment stays). This is proved by the craze for diesels in even 1+ crore segments.

3. Indians are brand conscious and Tesla is the biggest brand there is as of now. All the mercs and BMWs has become something of a triviality of late. A Model S would turn at least twice as many heads as an S Class would.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 10:13   #37
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

My thinking goes as followings :-

* We dont have a liberal and open market system where an individual can raise funds to work on new and different technology. Any one who wants to do this needs to come up with hard empirical model before he could get support from any quarter. While at other places there are people who are willing to bet with you from the every basic stage.

* Our economy and culture since beginning has been that of a trader i.e we used to be 15-20 % of world GDP till 1700-1800 AD. Even now, if observed , most will find that the technology was brought in/ Licensed by our organisations. Its very seldom that you would find some thing of absolutely new discovered from here and gone to the world.

* Mr. Musk was able to grab the opportunity because of his cashing in on paypal venture. And he was able to further invest the said corpus into other ventures such as SpaceX and tesla.

* Over here, you wont find any Financial institution who would lend against intangible assets, while Mr.mush was able to procure financial supports for the very same intangible assets.

* Things are changing even over here, but I personally think and feel that it would be wrong to have exactly the same success that people outside India have been able to achieve. We could for sure have success w.r.t having great business models, Good business leaders, Entertainment sector, i.e success in Intangible field instead of manufacturing field.

The above are purely personal opinion and I deserve my rights to be wrong
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Old 2nd June 2015, 10:13   #38
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Not true. India has engineers capable of being next Elon Musk but they do lack financial support. Watch the video below. These guys tried to do what Tesla is doing. Make a eco-friendly vehicle without losing the "fun" of riding. Their product didn't make it to the markets, reason being under-developed, lack of R&D and not being cost effective. I wish investors spend money on startups like these rather than on justanotheronlinestore.com


Last edited by ampere : 2nd June 2015 at 10:17. Reason: Formatted post
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Old 2nd June 2015, 11:55   #39
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

What Mr Musk did, Mr Maini too did with limited resources and the great support from our govt policies. To me that is a greater achievement.

Coming back to why not more such tech innovations, If we look back at India post independence, The conditioning that British imposed on our society continued, tuning every Indian to grow up and offer his services to someone who pays money. We continue to believe what west does is right and what we did for thousands of years is wrong !! Our parents did service job and we continue to service too(Even the high paying Software R&D work is nothing but providing service to someone sitting in USA)

Some might say we are seeing the tech startup phenomena in India now. But mostly in the low hanging segments such as Phone Apps, E-Commerce etc and everyone beating around the same bush. We did it then with dot com, and we are doing the same thing now with "App" stores and the cloud

Our children are groomed as an Engineer or a Doctor , or worse, an IIT guy doing MBA from IIM !!

I feel we have a huge potential in the field of Science, Economics and Politics. How many Science PHD are lost because the people are busy working for some MNC or trying hard to settle in a country other than India? Same applies for Economists and quality politicians.

There is a pressing need to generate citizens who can shape the society. Not everyone is blessed with such intellect. And those who have, are just focusing on a very narrow field of study or are mostly not focusing on India specific problems
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Old 2nd June 2015, 11:55   #40
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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Originally Posted by r.joshi View Post
Their product didn't make it to the markets, reason being under-developed, lack of R&D and not being cost effective.
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Originally Posted by VeyronSuperSprt View Post
genetic DNA.

Lack of opportunity, lack of potential and lack of funding are typical lame indian excuses which is another skillset we have in our DNA.
So let's add "being under-developed, lack of R&D and not being cost effective" to the list of lame excuses.

As they say, the only thing that matters is results, everything else is an excuse.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 12:05   #41
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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As a person who has watched and read quite a lot of Elon, I can say this. He does not know when to quit. There was a point in his life after the sell out of PayPal, where all his ventures were in some kind of trouble or the other, his SpaceX program had still not built a working prototype, his Tesla venture was still in R&D, the roadster was yet to come at that point I believe. And finally, his Solar City enterprise was in debt. At that point, most would have quit and filed for bankruptcy, but not Elon.
If you know a few entrepreneurs closely, you will not be able to say this. Most entrepreneurs land in debts and they are constantly battling to keep their nose above the water by making sacrifices. Contrary to popular belief, most entrepreneurs don't have investors throwing money at them. Instead, they take loans after loans.

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Human brains have different capabilities according to race. We are better than the Chinese when it comes to IT problem solving. We are better at multitasking than the Brits or the Americans. We are probably great as cultural thinkers primarily because of our heritage.
I didn't realise it was a satire until you named Americans as a race. You probably know all humans come from the San tribe of North Africa. We are just one race.

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I guess they are all the middle men. People in India don't believe in creating stuff. We believe in zero sum games. If you want to get rich, you should steal from someone, no other way.

.... I tried hard, I can't think of a reason other than 'it's in our blood, we are programmed to be (or not to be!).
No, Indians are a very diverse group. We have the most risk averse people to most reckless adventurers. What is common to us is the business environment. Change the business environment and you'll see things changing. This is not a hypothetical argument. Think back to 1991, when the reforms began. Compare the pre-1991 business era to post-1991 business era. It was practically impossible to run a business honestly before 1991, it became a possibility only after that. I have compared notes with pre-1991 entrepreneurs, and they are amused when I say I prefer to run the business by the rules. In certain over-regulated industries like plantations, it still not possible to run a honest business. A friend who used to be an estate manager in a corporate plantation, used to say that his every day duty was to negotiate various bribes with the local Tahsildar, while his sub-ordinates ran the estate. He finally left the job out of disgust. For our own Elon Musk to emerge, we need another major reform like the 1991 reform.

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TCS does cutting edge stuff. They are the primer server of comm tech to Formula 1. Ferrari's F1 cars used to run with TATA logos a while back.
TCS does cutting edge stuff for purely PR purpose. They don't derive any profits from it, instead it may be part of their marketing budget. It is pure arithmetic. TCS management is very risk averse, they can't afford to depend on experimental cutting edge stuff for their revenues. They stick to time tested mature technology with least risk. This is the case with all large service companies.

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This is a huge cultural point. Indians are a stingy lot and are extreme tightwads. No Indian with real Indian upbringing would want to lose money in an investment, the mere thought of it would make him pee.
This again assumes there is only one kind of Indian mentality.

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Not true. India has engineers capable of being next Elon Musk but they do lack financial support.
It is not just about engineering potential. The Elon Musk concept is about betting on a cutting edge technology, convincing investors to fund it with no ROI in sight, and then inspire a whole generation to look up and dream big. An brilliant engineer unable to convince investors or inspire his/her generation is no Elon Musk.

BTW, I can think of one Indian who came close in the 90s. His name was Sabeer Bhatia, and he created the first hugely successful web based free email system called Hotmail. He created this cutting-edge technology product, convinced the investors to fund it with no ROI in sight, and inspired a whole bunch of entrepreneurs to dream big. And he sold Hotmail to Microsoft for $400 million. After that he came up with a messaging product, kind of like whatsapp. But very few had web enabled phones, so it didn't fly, it was too ahead of time. He did it all after moving out of India, making use of the US business environment.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 12:18   #42
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BTW, I can think of one Indian who came close in the 90s. His name was Sabeer Bhatia, and he created the first hugely successful web based free email system called Hotmail. He created this cutting-edge technology product, convinced the investors to fund it with no ROI in sight, and inspired a whole bunch of entrepreneurs to dream big. And he sold Hotmail to Microsoft for $400 million. After that he came up with a messaging product, kind of like whatsapp. But very few had web enabled phones, so it didn't fly, it was too ahead of time. He did it all after moving out of India, making use of the US business environment.

I had the privilege of meeting this man in the Bay Area, California a very very long time ago. Wasn't this called SabseBolo ? I wonder what he is up to these days.

There are more like him but thesen are people who never even had the first success. One of my relatives was the second person to own a modern desktop computer in Hyderabad. He started a website which listed jobs that he knew existed due to his contacts with various HR people . This was 1996 India. Not a single company took it seriously when he said this is where you can place your job postings. It didn't work out and he decided to move to the US because he was frustrated with the Indian system, not that he became a success in the USA either.

Fast forward and now you have Jobs, Naukri, and whatnot. I always felt he never had the perseverance and that if he really wanted to he could have made it a success. That's when I saw an interview with Elon Musk who claimed nobody even heard about the internet in 1996 Silicon Valleys Venture Capital market. If that was how it was in SV, this relative of mine stood a snowball's chance in hell doing a dot com in 1996 India I guess (that's when I really felt for him and his efforts).

I guess there are somethings in India that just won't fly, or work with a lag effect with respect to product market timing .

Even now look at Snapdeal and Flipkart. ECommerce has been around since god knows when. And now it's as if nobody in India tried, or knew, or heard about it before the founders of these two companies came in. I am sure there are many that tried.

Maybe India will have its own Tesla. 20 years from now. Maybe India will have its own SpaceX. 40 years from now?

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Old 2nd June 2015, 12:33   #43
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Its just not India but outside the West, most large business is based on government granted monopolies, telecom, mining and other public utilities, this causes capital to chase after the guaranteed returns on offer ,the monopoly hides the inefficiency and comparisons don't exist.

I recently got this from a post about Apple hiring battery tech experts from a start up, California is a right to work state (in the real sense of the phrase, not how its applied in the American South),Tesla is based out of CA, so its perfectly all right to walk out of a company one day or reach out to your colleague sitting next to you and go on to better opportunities, unless you have something worth making, you won't get people for it.

R&D in the US is far ahead, something like two thirds of all patents are filed from there, so they define cutting edge in practically any industry.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 12:53   #44
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Lets separate out two different things on this thread. 1) Entrepreneurs. 2) Innovators.
The first category is not lacking in India, today we have more people running their own businesses than people living on a fixed salary, and this is encouraging because it provides for more job creation.
The second category. I am lost for words here, but I am still trying to figure out who can we call an Indian born and bred innovator who has lived and worked in India and created something new? If I try to research on any item invented in India, I halt to a stall, but made in India, yes there are several people and companies who make goods and services here.
A quick search on wiki shows the same thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...nd_discoveries
Apart from immense scientific knowledge we had in ancient times, post the British invasion we had nothing much to show for ourselves.
As rightly pointed out by Samurai. Our laws and rules are made by the British to slave the population and ensure that we don't develop from being a nation of clerks
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Old 2nd June 2015, 13:00   #45
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This report is false, and so is their claim that he has refused to comment on subsidies/grants from the US Government. There are multiple videos on YouTube where he speaks about these. There are tax breaks that will be realised over 20 years, and a land grant for the Gigafactory, but no cash payout. This is also a normal process any private company does in the US when making a huge investment - US states actually bid (in the form of land grants and tax breaks) for such investment as it generates local jobs (part of the deal) and helps develop infrastructure.

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India has primarily evolved to be a "dalal" economy.
Completely agree, and there is in my opinion a very simple reason for this (at the end of my post) that I heard an industrialist talk about when comparing business in India with countries like US and even China.

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The way i see it, this is the formula:
Elon Musk = Money + Brilliance + Execution + Publicity
You missed Vision. This is not just a brilliant idea, but a brilliant, world changing (positively) idea. Listen to some interviews of Elon (lonish ones, 44+ minutes) where he talks about the areas that he felt needed innovation to change humanity. He then removed the ones that may have a negative impact (such as genetic-modification), and then focussed on the ones that he felt would have an entirely positive impact.

And as mentioned in the article posted, he has a drive and commitment that goes beyond money.

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Is the idea of Tesla car in India really feasible?
Not just feasible, necessary. Tesla is a company, the Model S is niche anywhere in the world, but a 10-15L car that is spacious, looks good (not goofy), rides and handles well and most importantly has at least 250kms of range would be well accepted in India. We then only have the problem of recharge points at gaps of 200-250 kms with quick-charging to enable long distance travel because cars at that price in India would be the family's one multi-purpose car.

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Their product didn't make it to the markets, reason being under-developed, lack of R&D and not being cost effective.
Their product was priced so high because they didn't go into manufacturing on scale. That becomes a financing issue, which is where Angel investors come into the picture, or didn't in this case.

One of the things that Elon Musk says is that one should approach electric vehicles as completely new vehicles, and they should be designed and built as such from the ground up. That needs investment in research, design and then manufacturing facilities to scale.

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What Mr Musk did, Mr Maini too did with limited resources and the great support from our govt policies. To me that is a greater achievement.
Agree, that was an achievement in India. Kudos to Mahindra for keeping the vehicle alive, but they need to do more, IMHO.

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Most entrepreneurs land in debts and they are constantly battling to keep their nose above the water by making sacrifices.

I didn't realise it was a satire until you named Americans as a race. You probably know all humans come from the San tribe of North Africa. We are just one race.

What is common to us is the business environment. Change the business environment and you'll see things changing.

The Elon Musk concept is about betting on a cutting edge technology, convincing investors to fund it with no ROI in sight, and then inspire a whole generation to look up and dream big.
Agree with the above.

As mentioned earlier, there is too much red-tape in India. Businesses have to prove that they are doing everything per the book rather than being required to be transparent and assumed to comply. There is also a problem with the legal requirements being too specific, and anything not specified being assumed to be illegal.

Take Uber for an example. It was banned when the government faced a problem, and then only when the specific type of taxi/transport provider was included in the list was it allowed to re-start. Wouldn't it be easier to have a broad category of local/intra-state and inter-state transport, and then define tax and safety requirements based on that?

I've never been in business, but in an interview with some industrialists a while ago I heard that in China, single-window means one application on the right form. One gets a list of regulatory compliance requirements, and inspectors come regularly to confirm that one is compliant. In India (as the interviewee said), the government requires that one prove that one is compliant at every stage, and there are grey or hidden items that one may not even know about and may be found to be non-compliant years later and be fined retrospectively.

There is also a backbone of corruption that supports this system. Catching people out and extracting money is income. Allowing them to work and confirming that they are compliant is work for the "powers that be" who want power and money, but no work or responsibility.

Elon Musk also took on established players, traditional business (car dealers in the franchise model), and has been successful IMHO only because he got the right support (financially from private players) at the right time. He invested $160million of his own money (from the PayPal sale) in SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity because he was committed to the vision and ready to be broke if it failed. There are a few Indians I know who also gamble big on their dreams, and have had mixed success. I don't believe there is any shortage of entrepreneurs in India, we just need the right environment.
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