09 March, 2021

A Penny For Your Idea

A 25-ft home-theatre, a car that saves 40% fuel, an automatic idli-maker, roads from plastic waste. Our innovators have gone beyond making lassi in washing machines.

Saibal Das
A Penny For Your Idea
Though prettier people can also apply, engineering remains a mainly manly destiny in India. From the cradle begins a steep journey not to the final frontiers of science, not to uncover the truths of a brief generation but to master something called quantitative ability. And so generations of intensely tutored Indians demolish entrance exams and frighten the world’s young.

And yet a country that spews over 3,50,000 engineers a year has surprisingly few innovations and ideas to show for all that effort. Research and development in an average organisation is often little more than a tax-saving device, usually budgeted lower than a modest Hindi film.

However, there is a faint hint of change today. Old systems and habits are giving way in a few places. The youth, lost somewhere in the material world, may not be driving this silent revolution but the old guard seems strong enough. And the seeds of remarkable new ideas are growing on their scribbling pads and other, more sophisticated devices. These ideas aren’t necessarily arcane and inaccessible; many of them have the...

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