Skip to main content

Atanu Dey is not always right

I have previously pointed a lot of links [1][2][3]to Atanu Dey's blog, also praising his RISC model for development of Indian rural/semi-urban areas. However, this comment on his blog (by someone with an alias Human Blasphemy) sets out some very pertinent doubts on this model - reproducing it here:
Dear Atanu,
I heard you during your session on RISC at XIMB. One of the members asked you a question whether Rural Infrastructure can be developed through people’s participation and through microfinance. Which according to you is not possible, because large infrastructure projects have to be completed at one go. But the problem is that why will any private company invest in rural infrastructure? You only said that i dont know how it will be possible.

I believe you will agree that in future Microfinance will not remain microfinance it will become SM-finance [Small and medium finance. We have already seen the examples of increased limits of credit in Andhra Pradesh, where Mf loans have reached upto Rs5lakhs. Through Microfinance, we can go for rural infrastructure development through following 4 measures:

1. Framework for expanding contours of MFI roles and financial limits
2. Modification of Regulatory Framework
3. Integrating Private Institutions with MFI’s and Community [venture cap n equity]
[SKS Microfinance is attracting VC, which can also be applied to RID]

According to the theory of economic developement you suggested, the innovation has to be done at top level, then later on when competition will grow, it will be affordable to the masses. You also gave the example of Mobile phones.

I believe that this theory is successful for the technology sectors.When we talk about growth, we are also concerned with people’s development. YouR example can be negated by the fact that if we allow big companies to grow and capture the markets, the small and medium enterprises will never be able to grow. Big companies will not ALLOW them to grow once they see them as a threat. In that case the open markets will not become open markets, they will actually be the oligopolistic or monopolistic. And in the developing countries where large chunk of industries consist of small industries, the top down approach will not be helpful.

We have to allow small companies to grow and them many of them will become large companies. So the bottom up approach is successful if implemented properly. The reason of failure of this approach is not that it is flawed, but because it is not supported by those who are able to invest in it.

The example of Orissa can be given, where government is encouraging industrilization at large pace, but not able to develop people at the same pace. The result is the improper usage of resources [Economics deals with optimal usage of resources] and there are no rules or regulations in the state. If people are not ready and they are not able to use the resources the industries are generating, what is the use of industrialization. At the later stage the economy will be in a chaos and government will not be able to implement any regulations. People are already opposing such practices. Because they are not ready, or you can say they dont know that it will be beneficial. In such case first Bottom should be developed and not the top.
If you read Nandan Nilekani's Imagining India, one gets a feeling that most changes in India today were brought about by common people from the masses rather than a top down reform from the top. (While top-down reform was done, it usually followed some courageous and pathbreaking demands from the masses). I guess the commenter on Atanu's blog is hence quite right in his theory.


  1. Nikhil, your reproduction of this comment is very useful and worth loking. It makes a paradigm shift to look between two approach of top to bottom and bottom to top. I personally believe that Any change is best when organic—rising from the bottom rather than imposed from the top—the odds of assimilation improve dramatically. There is mass sell of public property, land and companies to private enterprise in the name of development. This type of developmental policy is antithesis of real human advance. It is promoted both internally and externally as a way to help the poor. In reality social and monetary capital flows only in one direction. Large companies stake claim to people’s lands and resources, profiteering themselves, offering in return only a fraction of what they take and destroying carefully nurtured and ancient environment. The self less and visionary can only drive through top- bottom approach otherwise corporates don't see rural population as individuals but only as potential consumers.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How will travel industry transform post-Covid

Unlike philosophers, journalists and teenagers, the world of entrepreneurship does not permit the luxury of gazing into a crystal ball to predict the future. An entrepreneur’s world is instead made of MVPs (Minimum Viable Product), A/B Tests, launching products, features or services and gauging / measuring their reception in the market to arrive at verifiable truths which can drive the business forward. Which is why I have never written about my musings or hypothesis about travel industry – we usually either seek customer feedback or launch an MVPised version and gather market feedback. However, with Covid-19 travel bans across the globe, the industry is currently stuck – while a lot of industry reports and journalistic conjectures are out, there’s no definitive answer to the way forward. Besides there is no way to test your hypothesis since even the traveller does not know what they will do when skies open. So, I decided to don my blogger hat and take the luxury of crystal gazing

Experienced vs. Freshers – an MBA perspective

Shubham and me compiled and created an article during our first year of MBA. It was never published, nevertheless MBA aspirants will find it very useful. Publishing it online for the same purpose. However, Shubham and myself claim a copyright on the text .... and of course very many thanks to all our freinds whose views have helped us compile the article. Experienced vs. Freshers – an MBA perspective By Nikhil Kulkarni, KPMG Shubham Choudhury, Infosys PGDIM- X, NITIE, Mumbai Ashita Mittal was placed during her final year in engineering college with a leading software firm. But she never wanted to be another brick in the wall. She wanted to differentiate herself from other graduates who start their career at the lowest rung of organizational hierarchy. MBA was a natural choice for her. On the other side is Shailesh Dhawla, who worked as a software engineer with a leading software consultancy firm for 3 years. He started his job with some ends in mind, like working with a known c

Ekla Chalo re

Watched "Bose- The forgotten Hero" on Saturday. Gem of a movie and probably the best of Shyam Benegal. Subhash Chandra Bose has always been an inspiring character in the history for the youth. This post however is not about the movie, its about the lead song 'Tanha Rahee' which is based on the poem 'Ekla Chalo Re' by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. I had pasted the English translation of this poem on my blog earlier. However, yesterday I found the original bengali text of the poem and found that the meaning in the above translation was not exact. So I have endeavourer (with the help of Shubham ) to re-translate it into English and Hindi by myself. Here is the output of my work: Bengali Jodi Tor Dak Soone Keu Na Asse Tobe Ekla Chalo re Ekla Chalo Ekla Chalo Ekla Chalore Jodi Keu Katha Na Kai Ore Ore O Abhaga Jodi Sabai Thake Mukh Firae Sabai Kare Bhay Tabe Paran Khule O Tui Mukh Fute Tor Maner