August 26, 2016

Making Indian Entrepreneurship More Desi

Writing in Founding Fuel, Baba Prasad, CEO of Vivekin Group who teaches entrepreneurship in B-Schools, bemoans the fact that a lot of the students would like to emulate the founders of companies like Facebook and Amazon and do not even bring up names like Narayana Murthy of Infosys or Azim Premji of Wipro, leave alone like Laxmanrao Kirloskar or Jamsetji Tata. "So, if business models for Indian entrepreneurs are fashioned in the West, and business heroes are not Indian, the question comes up: What is Indian about the Indian entrepreneur?," he asks.

According to the article, the crux of an Indian Entrepreneur is:
1. Balancing profit-making with the burdens it is imposing on society and the benefits it can deliver to society
2. The entrepreneur is solving problems, that are not uniquely Indian, but the scale is Indian. 
Contrasting the Western/Capitalist model and a not-too-practical Gandhian/Socialist model, the author provides Aravind Eye Hospital as a balanced template for the new Indian model:
Aravind Eye Hospital, established in 1976 in Tamil Nadu by the visionary Dr G. Venkataswamy (popularly called Dr V), is an excellent example of such blending. Over the last 40 years, it has performed millions of screening tests and hundreds of thousands of cataract surgeries. The unique business model draws on a for-fee model to fund its free services. The problem of eye care is not uniquely Indian, but the scale of the problem is definitely Indian. And Aravind Eye Hospital’s business model makes the solution for eye care a typically Indian blend of the Promethean and Gandhian models.

A characteristically Indian model would be one that alongside profit-making considers the burdens it is imposing on society and the benefits it can deliver to society. It is a tough ask, and it is individually negotiated with each entrepreneur finding his or her own balance through self-scrutiny is the one who will be truly free and capable of innovation.
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