Posted tagged ‘Nano car’


January 25, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Gracious day to you fellow global citizens! Special goodwill greetings to the people of India!

The year 2011 just kicked off with a good start for Asia, today’s indubitable growth driver of the global economy. From macro-economic fundamentals to micro-innovations, things are heading for another great year of bountiful growth and future prosperity for Asians.

India, known in ancient times as Bharat, is no exception to the Asian trends. Its income grew by double digit the past year, its macro-economic fundamentals are reclining on the positive side, and so external observers like me have reason to infer a very optimistic year of performance for modern Bharat.

Not only is India growing with sufficient prudence domestically, but even on the international terrain the Bharat ‘emerging market’ has done well. India’s enterprise moguls have sustained the patterns of expansion in overseas investments, which is laudable.

Just recently, the news bannered the gladdening reportorial about investments moving to Africa. As this is happening, the tie up between Tata Group and Siemens for producing the Nano car (priced at $2,000) and a diversity of machines and tools is now in the pipeline, with joint ventures expected to permeate Brazil, China, and other ‘emerging markets’.

So far so good! Well, the social sectors of Bharat may have a different opinion, such as the rural food producers who still number the greatest in the population, so they are entitled to their perceptions. And, the women who for millennia have been subjugated in yokes of patriarchalism, they too must feedback their advocacies about greater economic and social freedoms for women.

As to the market players, they have already advanced their reservations about the move to tap through their private communications networks (e.g. bug them, in search for possible money salting overseas or racketeering, and so on…). They have aired their concern about possible abuse of their privacy, a move that is short of installing a fascist tyranny in India.

India has been an exemplary democracy in Asia and the world, so there really should be no apprehension about the moves there to monitor money laundering and related criminal activities via covert tapping of communications lines and channels. However, there are fundamentalist groups in the power structure there, so there is some reason to be bothered about possible abuse of such intelligence discretions by right-wing Establishment groups.

One wish I’d like to share for Bharat’s people is that they should avoid advancing materially at the expense of their spiritual growth. India’s greatest wealth, as I observe it, is its spiritual wealth. It would prove very tragic if not catastrophic if Indians will eventually drop off their spiritual practices, such as going the Yogic Path, in order to metamorphose completely into a materially prosperous federation.

I remember that couples of years back I said the same thing about Nepal. I just couldn’t believe that Nepalese regard themselves as a poor nation, when in fact their spiritual wealth remains intact. Such a perception could lead to a win/lose situation, whereby Nepalese would prosper materially by throwing away eventually their spiritual wealth, and that for me will prove catastrophic as it bodes a Dark Age for the future materially wealthy nation.

It would be best for India and south Asian nations to prosper in an integrative way, by synthesizing material progress and spiritual wellbeing. That compass would lead to a new experience of win/win situation, where both techno-economic progress and spiritual growth would go hand-in-hand.

That represents a daunting challenge for India and its people. For those persons and groups in India who resonate with my thesis, they are already assured of my moral and spiritual support—me being a spiritual guru here in Manila/Philippines. Should they invite me to their cyberspace forums, sure I will join them and be a process observer of these tech-savvy scions of Rama.

For the Indians of today, cheers! Namaste!

[Philippines, 17 January 2011]


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September 12, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good morning from the suburbs south of Manila!

To continue with our exciting news for the ‘ember’ months, let me share some reflections about the recently released people’s car from India. The array of new innovations goes longer than that, with the car serving as the icing in the cake.

Beth Day Romulo, international journalist who’s the other half of the late Carlos P. Romulo who is one of Asia’s greats in the foreign policy field (former President of UN), featured the Nano car in her regular Sunday space at the Philippine Panorama, dated July 25, 2010. The Nano was engineered by the giant Tata group of companies of India, and sells at a very affordable $2000 apiece.

As Beth Day Romulo aptly titled, “In India, cheap doesn’t mean shoddy.” A sleek yet classy looking prototype, the Nano would surely be an envy of many countries up North who just couldn’t think of a car unless it sells past $25,000 apiece. Accustomed to the corrupted status-seeking behavior, the North’s customers would do everything in the books (e.g. get credit) to acquire flashy Mercedes Benz or Porsche and brag the same to their family circles and peers.

Mass markets are the in-thing in automotive industries as far as the bankrupt or near-death Northern car manufacturers are concerned. Flashy cars & SUVs would be okay for the fractional upper middle class markets up North and their clones down South, but for the larger billions of workers & professionals in emerging markets utility is the yardstick, hence the affordable folk car suits them well.

Before I venture into other thoughts, let me declare my own deep admiration for the Tata Group over its feats across the decades. I encountered this group during my own research on the steel industry in the late 90s, and in 1999 their representatives presented papers in the Manila-held conference of the Asian Iron & Steel Institute (I participated in that conference held at the Shangrila Plaza in EDSA).

From Tata Steel to Tata metallurgies and now to automotives, what can I say but SALUTE! With top-of-the-line scientists among their design innovators, including the world-renowned steel expert Dr. Mukerjee, the only way for Tata to go is to jettison upwards in a very exponential fashion.

What the Tata Group is silently proclaiming to the world is that the price policy of Northern car makers is pure and plain rent-seeking practice. Look at the Volkswagen beetle for instance, a people’s car that is now priced at past $23,000 apiece, and that surely makes one have doubts about the ‘people’s car’  facet to the Volkswagen.

It’s all pure and plain rent-seeking. Profiteering is a more palatable term for the layman. Just like those Western pharmaceuticals that are produced for a mere $0.01 apiece but sell for over $1 per pill, rendering the pharmaceutical companies the top-gun of obnoxious rent-seeking firms.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we’d find out that a people’s car up North should be selling at merely $4000 apiece, using factors of production costs in their own backyards. A Beetle should be selling at $3000 or even lower, come to think of it.

At any rate, the peoples of the emerging markets have lives of their own, and they set the patterns of consumption on the basis of their own needs. Such as the need for utility cars that are truly ‘utility’ and not luxury items masquerading as utility.

As per report, the German engineering company Siemens had jumped the gun, by committing to mass produce and market the Nano in India, China, Russia, and Brazil. The Mumbai subsidiary of Siemens alone will produce half of the Indian innovations (Nano’s just one of them) that they’ve committed to produce and market.

As Beth Day Romulo reported, “While western engineers work on highly sophisticated products, the Indian engineers, who focus on high quality but low cost, aim at simplification and adaptation to the environment.”

Stressing on the infusion of social technologies to the engineering works, Madam Romulo concluded that “all of those devices and products are the result of local innovation, the engineers on the ground who study and recognize the needs of the Indian consumer.”

Not just the Nano car but also a whole array of innovations from India have been showing the way to the fusion of quality and consumer sensitivity in the product prototypes. This is what true development should be in terms of technological innovations: driven by people’s needs rather the pockets of greedy corporate executives and owners.

[Philippines, 02 September 2010]