It is a known fact that India lost out to the Europeans when it came to making performance cars. We Indians do not buy performance cars at the rate westerners do, due to various reasons, but mostly because of the huge import tax that the government levies on such cars.
But the onset of electric vehicles might just bridge the monumental gap in a jiffy. Such is the advantage that electric vehicles bring with them.
It is a bit like the average Indian of today, jumping straight to smartphones before they tried their hand at fax machines, landlines, etc. Technology is powerful and so are people who provide them.
But are they? Are people who develop such technologies powerful in present situation in India?
Take for example, the government has its eyes set on electric vehicles. It even launched the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles (FAME) in India, when many developing countries were still having endless meetings, emptying coffee much faster than Indians could increase their country’s population.
Further still, ‘Make in India’ was seen as a huge movement that would finally see things being ‘made’ in the country. But what we did not see coming our way is that foreigners will resort to making India a manufacturing hub and no more.
When I was talking with Tarun Mehta of Ather Energy, he was on the same page with me. He said the government needs to push for technologies to be invented in India. Otherwise, we will end up paying more taxes to foreigners, he said.
He was right. Think about the last thing, apart from yoga, that was invented in India and made it big all around the globe. We have been a nation of adopters ever since the British ruled us.
It worries me that all big Indian startups are being gobbled up by foreign giants after they become successful. After they are acquired, however, the Indians who painstakingly created the firm are ousted. Ring any bells?
That is what I am worried about. I am sure, that in the coming years, many Indian firms who build electric vehicles will crop up. Be it bikes, cars, freight transport, they will come up, because Indians, when not corrupted by external forces are inherently hardworking people.
But I am worried that when there is no encouragement from the government to safeguard those inventions, the firms will sell their stakes to global giants with pockets the size of a dozen blue whales.
We must start encouraging Indian firms, create the right environment for them to thrive and prosper. Rather than be happy and say that such firms have made it big that even the foreigners want to buy them, we need to help them grow in such a manner that they go out and buy foreign firms. Think about Tata buying Jaguar and Land Rover or Mahindra buying Pininfarina or Bajaj buying a stake in KTM.
What that will do is for Indians to hold the patents and copyrights and actually earn money by sharing their inventions with others. Or else, we will still keep paying royalty to foreign manufacturers for eternity.
Look at it this way, would you like to buy rice from a store knowing that the money you pay does not, even in percentages, reach the farmers who cultivated it?
So, let me rephrase the question I asked earlier. Are Indians who develop such technologies, powerful in the present situation in India?