By: Nipun Parikh
14th January…. In many places around the world, January 14 may just be January 14. But every year in my part of India, this day is celebrated as ‘Uttarayan’. I live in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, which lies in the northwestern part of my country, bordering the Indian Ocean. January 14 is the day when nearly the entire population of Ahmedabad can be found on roofs of buildings flying kites and having endless fun. A few few months back, my friends Rahul, Piyush, Palak, Amit, Nishith, and I had a small get together to hang around and chat. After being on the topic of Uttarayan for some time, we suddenly decided that this time around, we would step up to orgnize and host Ahmedabad’s first Triptrotting.com TRIPup event: kite flying at Uttarayan.
From there we began to brainstorm every day how to make it a wonderful event for Triptrotters heading to Uttarayan to enjoy the city, the culture, and of course, the kites. Each day we collected more and more ideas for the event. Eventually, we began to put our plan into action by sending out the invitation on Triprtrotting website — we immediately saw a positive response. Next we scouted for a meeting spot/venue, and decided on the roof of a commerce college in the heart of old city was fixed thanks to our friend Piyush. The enthusiasm grew and our ideas materialized. Soon enough, we began to receive messages and requests from travelers excited to attend the Uttarayan fetival. Ten days before the festival we had already reached our estimated capacity, with even more requests coming in!
Many travelers were provided with Triptrotting hosts — originally I was going to host two travelers, but ended up hosting six! And they hailed from all corners of the world: two from Serbia, three from China, and one from Norway.
By Zachary McClure
As I traveled through India I was shocked by the amount of manual labor being used here. I spoke with an educated Indian girl (29 y/o, Marketing Manager, Masters degree) on a train yesterday, and I mentioned how “No one in the US really farms.” And she asked – “They don’t have farms in the Midwest anymore?” – to which I had to explain that so much of the process was automated that very few people were able to create the output for so many. Only 1% of Americans claim farming as an occupation. She was still not able to understand and then said “Oh ya I bet at least 20% of Indian’s are farmers.” In fact the number is much higher. As we rolled through the Indian countryside you could see hundreds of people (mostly women) digging in the soil and tilling the earth by hand, without even shovels or hand tools.
Earlier in the day while driving through downtown Delhi, one of the world’s largest cities, there were 2 guys breaking a big boulder by hand. (I don’t know why there was a huge boulder by the side of the road, but there was. One guy was holding a metal stake down, and the other guy was swinging a big hammer repeatedly onto the snake. I asked my driver (who spoke no English, and this was after 70 straight hours together but who else was I supposed to make a comment too) – “What happens when (the guy swinging the hammer) misses?” Inevitably he will, it’s likely the guy holding the stake will break a finger or worse, and then they will probably just rotate another person in to hold the stake. There are just so many people in India that there is a near endless supply of labor to the point that a human life has actually been devalued, and at the very least the quality of every individual’s life is forsaken.
I started thinking about relative productivity, and if it would be more productive for those 2 guys to spend 10 years doing something else, save up enough money to buy a big roller / earth crusher that could flatten that rock in 5 seconds, would they actually be able to break more rocks over the course of 10 years and 1 week than if they spent 10 years hammering at boulders with a stake and a hammer, one at a time? But what else could they even do? And where would they ever get an idea like that anyway? Opportunities for small changes in productivity and investment to massive improve the quality of life for so many people are what is attracting visionary entrepreneurs to India. There are very few places in the world where a small investment in infrastructure can yield so much benefit to so many people. In the U.S. no one is breaking rocks by hand anymore (and certainly not in the 2nd largest city), so buying another earth mover really isn’t going to move the needle on quality of life or productivity of the country, whereas in India it can increase it’s productivity by an exponential amount.
There are amazing opportunities in India, but at the same time why would you spend $5m (that you don’t have) on a rock crusher when you can pay 40 people 40 cents a day. Read the rest of this entry