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Will the Nano Fulfill the Promise of Mobility in Developing Countries?

Joe Qian's picture

Much in the same way the Ford Model T revolutionized transportation in the United States and the Volkswagen Beetle did in Germany, the Tata Nano (small in Gujarati) seeks to do the same for India and the rest of the developing world, with millions still seeking to realize dreams of four wheel mobility. Will the Nano become a resounding success and revolutionize the concept and accessibility of the car, or will it cause increased problems and growing pains in its mission to provide transportation to the broader public?

With a price starting at $2,200 dollars including taxes and fees, the Nano significantly undercuts the current cheapest car in India by almost half and may open the door to aspiring drivers around the world as the most affordable automobile in history (when accounting for inflation). The market potential is seemingly unlimited as only 0.7% of Indians owned automobiles in 2007.

However, economic development has already caused an explosion in the number of motor vehicles perpetuating increased fatalities due to accidents, standstill traffic, and smog filled cityscapes.

Its founder, Ratan Tata says that his inspiration is derived from poignantly watching the way entire families are transported on motorcycles complete with a rider, passenger, along with two children hanging onto the back. He noted the terrible toll in road deaths involving two-wheelers and called for a safer four-wheeled vehicle that will transport families in a dignified manner.

The People's Purse: Budgeting for the Poor

Antonio Lambino's picture

It is uncontroversial that the resources governments spend belong to the people.  How these resources get allocated varies from country to country at the national and local levels.  Debates and deliberations surrounding the budgetary process are usually technical, tedious, and time-consuming.  Nonetheless, budgeting in the public sector is a critical entry point for the demand for better public goods and services and, more broadly, meaningful and effective citizen engagement.  If citizens could exercise their voices in the prioritization of public sector spending, then government programs would have a higher likelihood of reflecting the needs and wants of constituents.  So a key challenge and opportunity in this area is finding a judicious balance between solid technical analysis and meaningful citizen participation.
 

The “State-Sponsored” Public Sphere

Darshana Patel's picture

In India’s 2 million villages, public meetings at the village level called Gram Sabhas (GSs) have provided a structured, institutionalized space for dialogue between the local government and its citizens.  In a recently released paper on the topic, Vijayendra Rao and Paromita Sanyal have coined these GSs as “state-sponsored” public sphere.  In fact, these meetings are mandated by national legislation. 

In India, these public meetings not only offer a space to dialogue and feedback between citizens and local power holders, they also pair it with real decision-making on how to manage local resources for beneficiaries for public programs.  This is the most striking feature of the GSs.  While the government provides data on families living below the poverty line that could be eligible for local resources, the GSs are required to have these lists ratified by those attending the meeting.  Citizens can directly challenge the data in “a forum where public discourse shapes the meaning of poverty, discrimination and affirmative action.”

Computers in secondary schools: Whither India?

Michael Trucano's picture

CC-licensed photo courtesy of World Bank via Flickr, SDM-IN-097The German scholar Max Müller famously remarked that "If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India."

No doubt there are many other countries also deserving of similar sorts of accolades, but the challenges that India currently faces related to providing universal access to a relevant and quality education for everyone -- and the solutions it deploys to meet such challenges -- are of increasing interest and relevance to people around the world.  This is especially true as it relates to the use of ICTs to meet a variety of educational and developmental objectives.

Bank’s youth blog looks at impact of financial crisis on young people

Angie Gentile's picture

How is the financial crisis impacting youth around the world? Youthink!, the Bank’s website dedicated to kids and young adults, asked its cadre of youth bloggers from around the world to answer that question.

"Even if the situation ahead of us is really bad, what good would it do to stress about it? It’s more productive to focus on the good things and keep on working towards our goals as a society…" said contributing blogger María Rodríguez of Colombia.

Bringing together seven young bloggers from across the world, the Youthink! blog features posts about topics as wide-reaching but impactful as climate change to health in the developing world. Since launching in January 2009, Youthink! bloggers have managed to spark lively debates and discussions among the site’s audience.

The first batch of Youthink! bloggers are:

 

A 2006 Webby Award winner, Youthink! aims to inform youth on development issues and inspire them to get involved. The site contains a section for educators, and most of the content is now available in French, Spanish, and Chinese.

Disaster Risk Management and Climate Adaptation

Abhas Jha's picture

I grew up in a small town in India-Patna-beside one of the mightiest river systems in the world, the Ganges. It is hard to describe the sacred place that the river has in Indian daily life. From sprinkling the holy water on a new born baby to putting a few drops into the mouth of someone about to die to dissolving the ashes of the dead into her deep embrace, the Ganges is like a mother to most Indians (literally she is often referred to as Ganga Maiya or Mother Ganges). But she can be a tough disciplinarian as well. Growing up next to her teaches you a profound respect for nature and the havoc she can cause. Patna is the capital of the state of Bihar which is one of the poorest states in India. One of the primary reasons for the poverty of the state is the almost annual havoc caused by the flooding of the Ganges and her tributaries in which thousands of lives and billions of rupees are lost. I remember as a little boy waking up in fear late one night  hearing government jeeps warning everyone to get out of the way-the river was about to break over its embankments and flood the town.

Cyberabad Dreams ...

Michael Trucano's picture

spotlight on Hyderabad | image from Azgar Khan used according to terms of its CC license, see below for infoHow do you develop the skills in your workforce necessary to compete in dynamic, fast-moving sectors of the global economy?  I just returned from India, where I joined colleagues from Africa in a series of site visits, learning events and presentations in the Indian IT hubs of Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore in seeking answers to this (and related) questions.  More specifically, the trip provided a rich opportunity to learn more about the 'India success story' of the last 20 years in the areas of IT, IT-enabled services and business process outsourcing (BPO), gathering policy and practice lessons of potential relevance and application to Africa.  In many countries, including many African countries, proposals for the widespread introduction of computers in schools is explicitly tied to goals to develop so-called 'knowledge workers' to work in nascent IT industries. How explicit is this link in reality?

In with the Outsourcing Crowd: Learning from Nasscom

Michael Trucano's picture

an empty call centre in Florida ... did all the jobs leave to India?The Nasscom India Leadership Forum in Mumbai is the annual meeting platform at which senior representatives from firms in the Indian software and Indian BPO industries share information, discuss and debate issues.  The Forum is well-covered in the Indian press, and increasingly internationally as well, and the event web site's group blog is a rich source of divergent opinions and perspectives.  Key note speeches from people inside and outside of the industry (including Narayana Murthy, C.K. Prahlad and Shashi Tharoor) were of notably high quality.

It is an interesting time for Nasscom: How will an industry that has only known good times deal with the current economic downturn?  How will individual Indian firms fare?  While the mood at the conference itself was notably serious (especially for an industry event), some tier one Indian companies actually expect to benefit from the downturn.  Many European countries (far behind the US and the UK in terms of outsourcing) are expected to examine costs more closely, which is expected to open up these markets more to Indian BPO providers.  At the same time, new outsourcing destinations are emerging, within India and internationally.  This is happening not just because of the hunt for lower prices and new talent, but also to gain a foothold in new emerging markets. 

Global Financial Crisis: How should South Asia respond?

Sadiq Ahmed's picture

The global financial crisis hit South Asia at a time when it was barely recovering from a severe terms of trade shock resulting from the global food and fuel price crisis.The food and fuel price shocks had badly affected South Asia, with cumulative income loss ranging from 34 percent of 2002 GDP for Maldives to 8 percent for Bangladesh. Current account and fiscal balances worsened sharply and inflation surged to unprecedented levels.


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