Skip to main content

Gandhian engineering: India's strength?

Indians in India may not have contributed much to the World in the areas of fundamental science and new-to-the-world innovations. But they seem to be doing pretty good at "Gandhian engineering."

Gandhian engineering is about getting more from less for more and more people. Writing in the August 8, 2009 issue of The Times of India , R.A. Mashelkar (president, Global Research Alliance) says "India excels in such innovations." A $2000 car, an 18-cent hepatitis-B vaccine, and a 1-cent mobile phone call are examples.

One of Mashelkar's 5 suggestions to kickstart the "Indian decade of innovation" is to drive inclusive growth by launching an Indian Inclusive Innovation Initiative based on the tenets of Gandhian engineering.

What are your views on an "Indian inclusive" agenda?


  1. I am a little skeptical about this Frugal Engineering (or Gandhian Engineering) bit. If we are making the same products at one tenth of the cost, then of course, it is something to be proud of. Take for example, what we are supposed to be really good at, Software Engineering. Take a project which say an IBM would do in the USA for 1000 hours at $100 per hour costing $100K. Now the Indian IT company goes and bids for this project with a similar effort of 1000 hours (give or take a little) and says I can do the project for $20K. Of course, this appears to be another example of Gandhian Engineering, but there is no real rocket science here. The Engineer in India costs $10 per hour and even with a 100% overhead, we can still afford to charge $20 per hour.

    So, my point is, when we talk about Frugal or Gandhian Engineering, we need to separate out:

    a) Those things were can do something much cheaper because we dont cost too much AND

    b) Those areas where we can truly make a product or service at a much better productivity than most people

    If we really make this distinction, then we will have separated the wheat from the chaff...

  2. Thanks for the helpful information. Hope to hear more from you.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Explorer mentality Vs conqueror mentality

A fixation on competitors and on beating them is evidence of what Amazon's Jeff Bezos calls a conqueror mentality. In contrast, people waking up in the morning thinking how to innovate for the customer -- and having intense fun innovating -- is evidence of an explorer mentality.

The explorer mentality resulted in Amazon allowing negative reviews of its products. Reacting to this, a book publisher objected, saying "You make money when you sell things." But Bezos thought, "We don't make money when we sell things; we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions." So explorer mentality also demands a willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time.

During his 16 years as CEO, Bezos' Amazon has delivered shareholder returns of 12,266% (industry-adjusted), and the company's value has grown by $111 billion. More in HBR Jan-Feb 2013.

M&A perspective: IT staffing Vs IT consulting

This report is a simple analysis by HT Capital -- a boutique investment banking firm in New York. It basically makes the point that being a staffing company (Vs consulting company) does not provide adequate returns to most investors, especially from an M&A perspective.

Peter Rozsa, co-author of the report, is a Senior Managing Director at HT Capital. He was also my "classmate" at a Columbia Business School executive education program. I have Peter's permission to make the report available here.

Click to download PDF report.

Corrupt media: lessons for better behavior

During the US election cycle, so-called "liberal" media outlets have been misleading the people of America and the world. They focused our attention on Trump's bad WORDS instead of on Clinton's bad ACTIONS. Even their polls and predictions were totally wrong.

Post-election, they continue to fuel division, violence, and racism.

US election reporting in India too has been hate-filled (Chidanand, for example).

In the midst of all this is a fresh, objective voice. Chetan Bhagat is not only an intellectual, but a rare truth-speaker. Here are 5 things he tells the elitist media:

You are not as smart as you thinkPeople are the keyUnfair criticism always backfiresDo not impose your views on othersGet out of the bubble.
Here's his original article.