The Tata Nano inspiration for India

Ramesh Ramanathan writes in The Mint about the ingenuity of the new car from Tata and how those same principles can be used to meet some of the challenges in health care, housing and public transportation in India.

 But the larger point is the inspirational lamp that the Tata Nano story lights. There are hundreds of challenges in India where the lessons of the Tata Nano can be applied—design innovation, scale efficiency, vendor networking and so on. I want to talk about three illustrative examples.


Imagine if we could get a CT scan cost down to Rs500, offer a heart surgery for a few thousand rupees or a gall bladder surgery for under a thousand. This requires a fundamental redesign of all the parts of the health- care delivery system—from re-engineering individual components such as the CT scan, to embedding these into scaled health “cities” that can get a critical mass of 10,000 outpatients a day.


Imagine the kind of demand that can open up if we can change the engineering specifications, reduce the cost-per-unit by scale economies, improve the construction process, and deliver a product that might not have marble floors, but doesn’t compromise on quality.


I think of the public bus system in our cities. If the experience is bad for passengers, it’s worse for the bus drivers, having to navigate these Noah’s arks through the narrow Indian streets. We need buses designed for Indian conditions: our roads, our traffic, our people. With environmental challenges thrown in, we are looking at a fundamental redesign of the Indian bus. Can we create an icon like the London Routemaster?


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