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Old 2nd June 2015, 13:28   #46
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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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?
Uber is a great example of new business model challenging outdated rules. I had discussed it here when Uber got banned for a while: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...ml#post3600560

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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.
The worst case of skulduggery by the government was the retrospective amendment in the vodafone case.

Businesses make transactions based on existing laws. But Indian Income tax department tried to circumvent the law to charge tax on the vodafone transaction. They lost the case in the Supreme court. So the government changes the law in 2012 and then applies it to the transaction that happened in 2007. This has sent chills into the companies that do business in India. How does one build business in a country where the government can make laws with retrospective affect? Can you imagine the loss of confidence investors will have in making investments in India? How to calculate the risk here?

In fact, Taxiforsure lost investor confidence and had to sellout to Ola Cabs because of the kneejerk reaction of government during the Uber rape case. A country that doesn't provide stable and friendly business environment, is not a fertile ground for risky cutting-edge innovation based entrepreneurship.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 15:16   #47
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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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.
Exactly.

Not that we are short of ideas, but it is the execution which appears to hit brick walls.

In fact, there is one idea which I hope succeeds phenomenally - and to a certain extent it does use technology.

The idea of solid waste management - more specifically waterless loos! And guess who is behind this - our own DRDO. It is reported that the concept is now picked up by Wockhardt and they are experimenting in rural areas. I hope they succeed (it is something which our country needs very badly) - and make it universal

And talking of DRDO, I remember reading that MTR foods had picked up one of DRDO's technologies to market their 'instant snacks' (the type where the packet is just dipped in hot water and it is ready to eat - DRDO is supposed to have developed the technology for use by soldiers, for items like 'Upma', 'Pongal', etc.)

Of course, these pale in comparison with what Elon Musk has done, but it is enough to give me hope that there are many Indians out there who are hard at work, and may bring about a quantum change one day.....
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Old 2nd June 2015, 16:43   #48
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

My two cents oops paise worth:

I totally agree that our culture does not encourage or imbibe risk taking attitude. A well entrenched spiritual and religious tilt (and I have nothing against it) is our biggest strength and also our biggest enemy. When you believe that everything happens for a reason, that God does what is best for you that this world is Mithya - this really does not help innovation. We like families, parents that gives us security but again does not let the individual thinking soar.

We are also accumulators of wealth. Ambanis, Hindujas, Mallyas have had their and their families wealth grow. They may splurge on IPL teams, buy jets and live exotic lives and they also provide livelihood for thousands of people. Paying salaries while earning profit is business only and not innovation and visionary thinking. What makes news is that Mukesh Ambani has not raised his salary (does he even need one??) this year but never that he has backed something radical. They even quit keeping non-veg in their marts! (nothing against veggies but as a business it does not make sense or does it?) Ratan Tata may back Snapdeal and Narayana Murthy into some other start up but these are businessmen not true innovators. There is no disruptive thinking here. And they will die and leave thousand of crores to their heirs rather than risk anything thats it. Although I must say that Nano was a great dream to have.

Average Indian is much more aware of the world, quite intelligent but at the same time looking for comfort not adventure. We kill teenage dreams as organised text book schooling and coached sports periods take precedence. Sports quota in jobs, colleges and institutes used to be the sole factor but that has changed a bit now. Why do people join police or civil services or become teachers or take up government jobs? Because they ARE government jobs noyt because they really love these jobs.

Till the time we agree as a society that failure in career or business is an option, that not marrying/having family is an option, that being a brilliant individual rather than an average everyone's man is an option we will not have people coming up with out of the box ideas. Look at all the innovators - they are very close to being eccentrics. I fear that right now that even if we have an Elon Musk amongst us he is more likely to be ridiculed and labelled mentally unstable rather than being hailed as a hero. Look at desis abroad - we are good at winning spell bees and every other day find a PhD who has found out something in a lab but when we truly are ready we will have someone combine scholastic aptitide with mass appeal and commercial viability. That day is still far.

EDIT: Ever wonder what Elon Musk will feel or say when he sees Tesla in India going to a Temple or Gurudwara or any other religious place for getting a puja/ardaas done and getting an idol on the dashboard These may be mutually compatible concepts but consensus will not give birth to revolutionary thinking. Imagine being a Galileo in medievel times. Imagine saying Earth is not the centre of the universe. Till we challenge we will only be followers. Let a child play. let a child have his own brain, let them explore. Even if we are able to slightly move away and give space to kids of today who know how to operate mobiles, remotes, video games and internet at an age we hardly could manage our tummies this can happen here too. Takes a few generations but it has to start sometime..

Last edited by adtalwar : 2nd June 2015 at 16:58. Reason: Added text
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Old 2nd June 2015, 19:11   #49
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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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.
If you read the last bit of my post, you would have seen that it is not only up to his never say die attitude. It also has to do with luck sometimes. Luck or being in the right place at the right time has the potential to make or break a business.

I have quite a few friends in the entrepreneurial business and do know that sometimes they struggle to make ends meet and keep adrift. I am taking nothing away from them.

But I don't believe India or we as Indians have yet reached there in terms of planning and infrastructure to successfully implement a start up on a frequent basis. But I am hoping that the start up bug which has started giving wings to many beliefs does sustain and we do mature into an entrepreneurship friendly country without the legal hassles and the bureaucratic bungling.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 19:26   #50
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

Elon Musk can be one and there can be no other like him. Individuals like him are few and far between in the history of our planet (not just talking about countries here).

Listen to him talk about the things that he thought (when in college) would bring about an impact on the world and came up with renewable energy, making life interplanetary, electric cars and AI. And to see that he has actually been able to make a significant contribution to 3 of those 4 areas in his lifetime is unprecedented. Individuals like him are what further us as an intelligent species.

What makes individuals like these?
A hard to imitate combination of Society, Circumstances, Intelligence, Vision and Character is what come to my mind. Luck plays an important role too.

Why can't India produce an Elon Musk?
The Society (read people around including the Government) and the Circumstances work heavily against majority of our population. There is no dearth of Intelligence, Vision and Character. However the focus is more on survival and stability.

Once we have enough people past these basic necessities in life and the society as a whole as evolved here (in other words once we are a developed country), we will see an Elon Musk from India if we are all lucky enough
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Old 2nd June 2015, 20:08   #51
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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If you read the last bit of my post, you would have seen that it is not only up to his never say die attitude. It also has to do with luck sometimes. Luck or being in the right place at the right time has the potential to make or break a business.
Yeah, I saw that last bit, and it reminded me of an old incident. After I setup up my rural office in a nice building with a great view, one visitor quipped that I am very lucky to have such a setup. I was stunned at the comment, all the hard work and sufferings I underwent to reach that point, revolved in my mind for the next 2-3 seconds. And I replied, "Yeah, I just had to show up at the right time and right place". Don't think he got my point.

It was Louis Pasteur who said Chance favors the prepared mind. Highly motivated people don't depend on luck, but hard work and perseverance. If you fail once, you try again, you fail twice, you try again. When you succeed in the 10th attempt, people will call you lucky.

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But I don't believe India or we as Indians have yet reached there in terms of planning and infrastructure to successfully implement a start up on a frequent basis.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, you cannot apply the rule of averages. If you say Indians don't have road sense or civic sense or cleanliness, you would be right. That is because these are group attributes. If 90% Indians don't have road sense and 10% Indians do, as a group we still don't have road sense.

However, if 90% Indians don't have the skills to run a startup, but 10% Indians do... guess what, those 10% Indians can run a startup. The inability of the majority has no effect on ability of the minority who have the right skills. That means if even 0.001% of Indians have the right skill to create cutting edge technology, convince investors and inspire others to dream, they will be able to do it, if the business environment gives them the freedom. These people will keep trying until luck finds them, but they won't be able to overcome the laws/regulations of the country.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 20:17   #52
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

Hey Samurai, I think we both are arguing for the same point! I am all for start ups and individual businesses but believe the government is not ready to give us our wings.

Regarding the luck part, everyone is entitled to their opinions and I do respect you for what you have achieved in this field and am glad to accept your opinion as well.

Cheers.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 23:24   #53
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

I still think its not that bad. Innovations are happening. May be at smaller levels. (Many INK Talks, TED Talks speak of such happenings). Its just that these things are not able to scale up to the business levels. And that is where Samurai's point becomes valid. Add to it lack of business acumen thanks to how we have been programmed by the west during colonialism. Policies not helping either.

Innovation can be universal. But it can also be perceived in context of a need seen around us. That aspect of visualising the need was in a deep slumber for a long time. And the brains working for a problem for an "out of context market" also did not help build a local phenomenon. But that paradigm has changed with "visualisation of local" taking the centre stage of late.

So I would still say, we will now start seeing quite some innovation happening, but we will rarely see it grow to Olympian levels. Because the proverbial Thomas Kuhn's paradigm shift may not happen.

Last edited by ampere : 2nd June 2015 at 23:26.
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Old 3rd June 2015, 00:42   #54
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

I will answer this with the POV of a 20 year old entrepreneur who is stuck between college and startup(s).

1. Lack of Government Support : Although the BJP government has been trying to support young entrepreneurs, this effort hasn't come through till yet. We don't have easy loans, good funding support and more so subsidy on younger efforts. We are currently lacking any kind of governmental support at large.

2. Lack of Execution : There's a general tendency in Indian Startups to lost focus in the middle of the movement. The Chasm is much more evident in India, as Andy Rubin, Product Manager at Google puts it "We have the ideas, we have the money but we don't know how to mix the idea and the money together in a good dilution which doesn't undermine the core value of the startup"

3. The horrible Demotivation : While demotivation stories are fun to read, most startups are demotivated to the point where its harder for them to work and eventually shut down. While my own startup has been often demeaned to the point where I have been told that " Young kids like you don't know how to do business to Why don't you just shut it and learn how to work first", its severely demotivating. And its not the poorer sector, as they are much much more open to ideas and execution in lure of employment.

Its the Educated Class which has the problem of not understanding that things might often take time or might often not land in the best way and there is a way to find a solution without insulting and bashing the other person.

4. Incubation period and work exposure : Indian Companies do not support incubating entrepreneurs, period. Most of the heads in corporates won't listen to a 20 year old for ideas and will often steal ideas. The Incubation area needs core development and most universities don't support ideas that have made Indians millions abroad.
Work Exposure is low too. We have rote learning, guided principles and strict deviations. An employee will always value his work against his Idea and would not want to lost job.

Just my two cents, Thank you!
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Old 3rd June 2015, 10:52   #55
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

You might want to take a look at this:

http://www.nif.org.in/

We have gone as far as this, that our country has a foundation. I have had the chance to interact and work with the founder and his team closely. It is a highly motivated team, and there has been considerable work done and ideas implemented by them at various levels.


The problem is, somewhere, in India, innovation has been linked with low cost.

You can innovate, but not make money out of it: seems to be a school of thought as well. This I do not agree with.

I mean, when you are demonstrating a cutting edge technology to a bunch of bureaucrats, and after an hour of hands on and explaining, if you need to answer if the product can be manufactured at a ridiculously low price, nothing can be worse than this. If it is not cheap, it ain't innovation!

Most crazy, innovative minds are passionate about their work, and passionate about expanding too. You cannot leave money out of the game; the money he is passionate about earning!

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Old 3rd June 2015, 11:42   #56
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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I mean, when you are demonstrating a cutting edge technology to a bunch of bureaucrats, and after an hour of hands on and explaining, if you need to answer if the product can be manufactured at a ridiculously low price, nothing can be worse than this. If it is not cheap, it ain't innovation!
Quite correct. In fact one of the points harped after the Mission to Mars was the cost.....

One another thing which I have observed is that at most times any response to a new idea is more NEGATIVE than positive.

We are brilliant at picking all the cons rather than the encouraging ones - something very common in workplaces, that people get tuned to similar line of thinking.....

I know I am going to get a lot of brick bats for writing this, but just want the readers to thinks this one over.

Forget for a moment Elon Musk, especially in the context of the conditions in India.

These two developments to me are far more relevant and stupendous (those born in the 60s and 70s will agree, I hope) -

1. Passenger Reservation System - I am not talking about the IRCTC, which happened much later. Can those in their 30s (or younger) envisage a scenario, that to book a train ticket we had to stand in a queue in front of a specific window. That booking tickets for a connecting train was a nightmare. That there was a station wise quota system? Everything is now at your finger tips. Yes, the idea could have been copied / lifted from western countries, but someone / somebody / some organisation had the vision and the courage to prepare a plan and execute it. Whosoever's brainchild it was (and is), I salute him.

2. C-DOT - More specifically, Sam Pitroda. He was a man with a vision, and without his vision, I am sure we would still be lagging behind in this arena. How many of remember that for emergency communication, we had to book 'LIGHTNING' calls, paying an exhorbitant amount of charges? Why, till about a decade and a half ago, both the caller and called were paying (I began using the mobile phone when the outgoing calls were Rs. 8 or so per minute and incoming calls were charged at about Rs. 4 per minute). He has played a stellar role, and we need to acknowledge his vision.

I am also tempted to add Metro's E. Sreedharan.... what do you all say?
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Old 3rd June 2015, 12:37   #57
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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Originally Posted by vrprabhu View Post
Mission to Mars
...
1. Passenger Reservation System
...
2. C-DOT
..
I am also tempted to add Metro's E. Sreedharan.... what do you all say?
These don't constitute entrepreneurial ventures. These were done by corporations with vast budget and with established practices.

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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.
Right. The 1st category you have listed are 'Lifestyle Entrepreneurs', people who start a small business or forced to start one and continue through their life managing the small business. Small shop owners come into this category. But their focus is not on growth and hence they cannot be clubbed under 'entrepreneurs'.

What we mean by entrepreneur is one who focus on growth of business. Increase in revenue & job creation are consequence of this focus on growth.

---

Coming to Elon Musk:
Reaching stardom once as an entrepreneur is achievement of lifetime. It is extremely rare to have someone do it twice (in different domains). May be even in US, there might just a handful of individuals who have made it very big more than once. So the focus of India shouldn't be finding Elon Musk, but people like Larry Page

After the success of silicon valley, every country has tried it hands on creating its silicon valley. Most have failed and others have lesser success. Forget countries, other states of US have tried to replicate silicon valley or still trying but have not succeeded. If anyone has recipe for creating entrepreneurs, I think they will win Nobel in economics.

Last edited by msdivy : 3rd June 2015 at 12:39.
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Old 3rd June 2015, 12:43   #58
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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India has primarily evolved to be a "dalal" economy. Middlemen are enriched, and powerful. Everything is through middlemen. This is the attitude everywhere due to decades of conditioning. Until this changes, we won't see something like a Tesla coming out of here.
This is a very important statement and the repercussions are everywhere. I have a few friends who have started up recently after 1-2 years in their MNC jobs. They're looking at organized logistics services , innovations in the way you order food- not from restaurants but cooked by local chefs and in data analysis of mobile applications.

There is innovation. There is capital- most promising start up ideas receive a decent amount of VC funding if their founders are confidence inspiring.
However, if you look at the entrepreneurship spectrum, you'd find that most products are being offered in the service domain. This is because the internet offers a tremendous opportunity of organizing businesses which were hitherto unorganized. There is a lot of money in these fields.
Gradually, the entrepreneurial taste is becoming more inclined towards innovation and some people are coming up with promising product design, launch and crowdfunding platforms in India.

I think we need to give it some time. Yes, the services and startups we see today are mostly driven by data and that too for consumer products (no social cause), but these companies are at least developing customer insights that would help a company make better products. They are, in a way, smarter middlemen and actually contribute to the product and consumer relationship.

One of my college seniors is working on the improvisation of agriculture.

There's a site that features a lot of startups. I think the perspective with which this thread was started was to identify the reasons behind the lack of innovation in entrepreneurship.
The availability of VC capital, social acceptance of startups as a career option after college and the increasingly terrific possibilities being opened up through the mainstreaming of the internet will enable us to see a lot of surprisingly innovative companies in the next decade.
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Old 3rd June 2015, 12:51   #59
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

Lets consider two industries as a generic example.
1) Software solutions and IT
2) Aerospace and aviation

1) Apart from coding for cheap wages, what is our growth factor in IT? How many world class products have we launched as a nation? Have we developed a new technology? Have we developed a new algorithm? a programming language? A concept even? What are our millions of software engineers and analysts doing? What is the output from our huge software parks? Employment? Yes, enablement? May be, innovation? not sure

2) India along with China is the world's leading regions for growth of commercial aviation. Where are we in the game? Sure we have big airlines, bigger traveling population, even bigger would be air travelers, but we rely on foreign aircraft manufacturers for all our planes. We have no Indian equipment for our runways, our air corridors, our radars, heck even our aerobridges and stuff are imported. Meanwhile China has Boeing and Airbus factories churning out important components like wings and tails for the manufacturers, they have a lot of aeronautical ground equipment made in the country and right now they are even engineering a regional jet capable of carrying 150 people, with firm orders from their own airlines and some East European airlines, and are launching it around 2018.
We keep taking pride in our growth, yes it provides jobs for pilots and cabin crew, ground engineers and thousands of airline employees, but as a nation can we survive if US or Europe stopped selling us planes?

The only thing the last 20 odd years of liberalization has done to India is made us a nation of shoppers and consumers, we are so accustomed to buying from outside, we are not bothered about making anything here.

So much for Elon Musk or made in India...
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Old 3rd June 2015, 13:20   #60
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Default Re: Why doesn't India have an Elon Musk?

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1. Passenger Reservation System - I am not talking about the IRCTC, which happened much later. Can those in their 30s (or younger) envisage a scenario, that to book a train ticket we had to stand in a queue in front of a specific window. That booking tickets for a connecting train was a nightmare. That there was a station wise quota system? Everything is now at your finger tips.
I don't know when the switch happened in the railway system. But KSRTC Bus reservation used to be the same way. You had to stand in a particular queue for particular route. I remember visiting Kempegowda Bus stand in the 80s to book a ticket. The Mangalore window used to have the longest queue. I used to look in envy at the short queues for Bidar or Bijapur. But in the early 90s, KSRTC reservation system got fully computerized. In fact, I trained the TCS team that developed the reservation system in C++/OOP. In that process I recommended they use TurboVision (from Borland) as the UI, and trained them on it. But I had no hand in the design of the system. After this system got in place, one could stand in any line and book their tickets to anywhere. Amazing freedom... for years I used to be thrilled when I saw them using TurboVision UI at the counter.

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2. C-DOT - More specifically, Sam Pitroda. He was a man with a vision, and without his vision, I am sure we would still be lagging behind in this arena. How many of remember that for emergency communication, we had to book 'LIGHTNING' calls, paying an exhorbitant amount of charges?
This is an amazing story of dragging India from the stone age, kicking and screaming. Keep in mind the technology was very mature, can't call this an innovation story. I did my BE project in KTL, which was working with C-DOT on testing and assembling of C-DOT exchanges. So I got to hear lots of inside stories. Remember, this was all before the 91 reforms. Sam Pitroda succeeded in that environment for one reason, he ignored all the bureaucrats and bureaucracy. Whoever opposed him were answerable to Rajeev Gandhi's PMO. And no bureaucrat wanted to explain the PMO why he was standing in the way. Thus Sam Pitroda bulldozed his way through all the red tape and modernized Indian telecom. Yet another example of how things can work if government bureaucracy steps out of the way.
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