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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.


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