India: Manufacture & Market Frugally Engineered Products in Millions

India is doing pretty excellent with the product development for the bottom of the pyramid population. It started with the sachets that have given the best brands to even the poorest.

Tata’s land marking introduction of Nano made India a pioneer of frugal engineering management. But unfortunately Nano is still to make its acceptance visible volume-wise. Is it only due to its production constraints? Should it not be the fastest car to reach the million-mark and create a history? Is Tata Motors preparing for that with its totally new plant at Sanand getting operative to its planned capacity or with some unique production and marketing strategies?

And even Bajaj Auto with positive alliance with Renault-Nissan has developed the ultra cheap car and is on track to launch it commercially in 2012.

Media have reported of some other unique product developments that have potential to be produced and sold in millions to make the Indian manufacturing sector proud.

Godrej has developed ChotuKool, a low-cost refrigerator designed for India’s poorest households. The Chotukool is a squat cube, with just under 40 litres of volume and attractive colour shades. It opens on top to conserve cold air; in fact, the lid hinges out and comes away entirely, in two detachable parts. A power socket sits embedded in the lid, next to two axial fans that dispel heat. It can cool its contents to 20 degrees below the ambient temperature. The ChotuKool aspires to be a serviceable domestic refrigerator priced at just Rs3, 250. Will it be getting into to the millions of households, particularly in rural India? Has Godrej engineers used Quality Function deployment to make it readily acceptable? Has it the flexibility to be customized for the most of the households to demonstrate a family?

A similar household product has come from Tata House for purifying the water, Swach with price below Rs 1,000. India needs this appliance in every household that can go a long way to prevent many water-borne diseases. I wish more and more of Karunanidhi brand of political leaders start sponsoring these products instead of colour TVs for the voters.

Media reported about the indigenously built tablet PC, named Adam, by an IIT Kharagpur student that can give Apple’s iPad a run for its money, provided it gets properly marketed and promoted. It scores over the Apple iPad with its better battery life, features and of course its affordable price tag. The Adam PC addresses the shortcomings that are there in the Apple iPad.

The Adam has been touted as an “Apple iPad killer” in many quarters. Starting at $325, the Adam tablet PC is around 36 per cent cheaper than the starting price of an iPad – $499. Moreover, Pixel Qi screen technology makes it easier to read under bright light, according to some technology experts.

Will the promoters be content with generating enormous buzz on tech Web sites and gadget blogs or commercialize it big way to reach all the eagerly waiting consumers that will be again in million India and world over? Media had a report of RIL showing interest in Adam. Will Mukesh, Mittal or Dhoot take interest in taking Adam to millions world over as Apple attained for its iPads?

But the best product reported till date in my knowledge is the Rs 1,500(around $30) laptop that Sibal unveiled on July 22 that is specifically for students. As reported, the device, India’s answer to Nicholas Negroponte’s OLPC laptop, is a single unit system with a touch screen and a built in key board along with a 2 GB RAM memory, wi-fi connectivity, USB port and powered by a 2-watt system to suit poor power supply areas. Will the device be produced in the country or will it be from some Chinese manufacturers?

I wish the laptop to be a real one and get produced in million as Nokia does its cell phones in India. It will mean a great success of Indian technology and manufacturing. Can all the students above class VIII have this laptop backed by some scheme similar to Nitish Kumar’s cycles? It will be viable too with all the books and exercise loaded in it.

Why can’t India entrepreneurs create real multinational enterprises with these frugally developed products?

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