Monday, July 6, 2015

One of the biggest things holding India back is the over-availability of funds

This is a personal insight. You're reading a blog that is mostly full of personal insights or other people's forwarded insights.

One of the biggest things holding India back is the over-availability of funds.

Thanks to that, innovation is coming at steep price tags. One GPS-mapping project at some point got a Rs.1 crore sanction for something that plainly didn't cost Rs.1 crore.. and now everybody wants that kind of money.

And so there's very little sharing, cross-polination going on, because the monetary stakes are so high.

People are locked-in to set solutions and methods and proprietary models, and since that's been rewarding, there's no incentive to change ways. People who should be at the cutting edge of tech are haplessly ignorant of all the innovations happening in the open source world.

A famous South American mayor has quoted : "Innovation begins when you remove a zero from the budget".

The best technological solutions out there aren't those that cost a hell lot of money and need very-very-very-high IT "expertise". I've been looking at many of these, and apart from some drudge-work that's obviously outsourced to lower-paid underlings, honestly it's just a lot of hot air.

The best technological solutions out there are those that INCREASE people's voluntary participation; empower them to make small differences that all add up to huge things, decentralize power, and above all, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, are SIMPLE, and CHEAP.

So it should cost you somewhere around Rs.0 to GPS-map all the streetlights in Pune. Stipend for the people involved, their transport and food for the days they worked on the project? Fine, but that will only come up to a few thousand bucks per head, the total will only be in the lower lakhs. Not freakin 100 times inflated!

And while there is increasing scope of using technology to better governance, I'm sorry my dear programmer friends, that doesn't mean this can become a big-money thing. The whole concept of IT solutions costing a bomb was an artificial one to begin with.. it runs exclusively on the ignorance of the opposite person, and that's a rapidly diminishing resource.

So, to anyone in local government / transport bodies reading this : PLEASE STOP WASTING PEOPLE'S MONEY ON HI-FI IT SOLUTIONS. The innovation you seek will come when you remove a zero from the budget. Instead, one effective way you can go about this is to open up your data and declare contests for the best open-source solutions. India is chock-full of engineering colleges looking for projects to do. Start a contest and see what response you get.

1 comment:

Abhishek said...

hey Nikhil,

I stumbled upon your this blog entry and I liked the concept of, Innovation happens when you remove a zero from budget. I second to your thoughts about unnecessary deployment of high tech IT solution and opening up the data as there are certainly lot of students who can come up with viable innovative ideas to the existing problems, especially to our place Pune!

Thanks,
Abhishek Ganu

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