Entrepreneurship is the spirit and the ability to realize new ideas or innovations on a small or a large scale. It is driven by a particularly inflicting faith in the idea and a dream to bring a concrete change in people’s lives by fulfilling that idea. Entrepreneurs are generally described as risk-takers. But the ability to take risks, to keep their enterprise alive through periods of enormous losses depends upon a complete faith, almost a type of stubbornness in adherence to the innovation or idea. Few have these qualities. Indeed without the entrepreneur, the innovation or the idea remains just that and can never materialize into a concrete product.
Modern society might be keen to believe that entrepreneurship is a recent addition to human society. However, I believe that it was entrepreneurship that led to wide spread adoption of inventions of the past. The horseshoe, the axe, the bow, the papyrus were indeed great innovations of their time but it took an entrepreneurial spirit to make these products widely adopted by people and to produce them economically. Entrepreneurs have been known only under different names in different ages. It did not take an industrial age to make an entrepreneur, albeit their numbers might have increased with the coming of the industrial age and a general rise in world population.
India too has known great enterprising times. Old ruins dug out from ground demonstrate that novel products were in use even in old Harappan civilization. Beautiful town planning and hygienic drainage systems existed. The Ashok stambh with its relatively high purity alloy metal stands as a proof of thriving metallurgical factories of those times, rare in other parts of world at the time.
However, India suffered an irreplaceable void with respect to the entrepreneurial spirit during 16th-mid 19th century while India itself was under a transition losing its individuality and independence. Entrepreneurship cannot exist where there is inertia. A general hope, well-being and energy in people are necessary to fulfill entrepreneurial endeavor. The absence of these factors not only kills entrepreneurial spirit, but also depletes the ability of a good entrepreneur to make sufficient people believe in their idea, without whose help they lack enough financial or good quality human resource necessary to success. The general loss of vitality and wide-spread inertia, whatever their reasons, ushered in the dark ages for this civilization.
But we have now come a full circle, and have already seen a rising curve in the past century. With modern education we have been breaking the past barriers and experimenting new ideas for better or worse. Especially in this new century with wide-spread primary education and easiest modes of communication in Internet, TVs and cell phones, we are seeing rapid increase in the number of entrepreneurs in some fields – IT startups are popping like pop-corns and mushrooms in Mumbai and Bangalore (where you can find most VCs (venture capitalists)), and many startups in the fields of media (see TVF’s Pitchers on Youtube!), journalism, specialized business consultancy, education and though slowly but steadily even in engineering and new technology.
Have we reached our full potential? I think we are yet far from it. We only need to look at the entrepreneurial culture in some of the other countries like United States, to realize that. Do we have any industries in new technologies like new generation batteries, energy efficient hybrid cars or Solar cell (All solar panels in India are manufactured elsewhere)? In contrast, for example, you can find at least 50 start-ups in solar technology in US, many of which are economically healthy and all fiercely competing. There are practical reasons for this – like insufficient research expertise, little VC funding for new tech in India and even sparse governmental funding for University level research (surprisingly many startups in the West spring from Universities). Who will solve these problems but us, we who are a part of this problem?
We dream of an India where there is capacity and freedom to try-out and realize new ideas in all fields of human possibility. May we rise to the highest intellect and have the mightiest courage and energy to realize our greatest potential. This is the aim for entrepreneurship in India.
Image source: 1