Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee brimmed with optimism in the middle of careful words on fiscal problems when he singled out India’s young entrepreneurs for praise.
While that conjures up visions of IIT-ans and hot startups funded by venture capital, I think another class of technology entrepreneurs needs to be celebrated. I got this realisation as I had walked around a day earlier in South Delhi’s Nehru Place looking for a laptop. The dull-grey buildings are abounding with IT-related enterprises.
While you can buy brand-new computers in big shops, the small ones are the ones to admire.
They can repair your old computers, refill your printer cartridge or sell you a second-hand projector. Accessories of every kind, educational CDs, games and books related to IT can be bought in the cubbyhole shops in which semi-educated but highly informed shopkeepers guide you about the latest technology. While you may scoff at the pirated software on sale, there are also mechanics who sell old microchip-based computers for the price of a handset (Say, for Rs. 5,000).
I think that helps in re-use of computers and make them accessible to the poor and also cuts down on e-waste.
While we celebrate the dollar millionaires India has produced, I also raise my hat to the underbelly of Indian technology entrepreneurship.