India lacks risk-takers, not creativity: Sanjay Dalmia on Steve Wozniak’s comment

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was at the Economic Times Global Business Summit, where he kicked up a storm with his comment about Indians lacking creativity. While the comment led to the Internet debate whether unfair it was on Wozniak’s part to call India ‘un-creative’, a lot of people took to social media and agreed with what the Apple co-founder had said.

Renowned industrialist and philanthropist Sanjay Dalmia, well-known for his nationalist ideology, expressed his views regarding Steve Wozniak’s controversial remark. According to him, Wozniak, being an outsider, has no right to comment about what India lacks without actually knowing the hardships of the life of a common man in India.

According to the Sanjay Dalmia Group Chairman, Steve Wozniak’s remark that ‘India lacks creativity’ is a lazy stereotype. Wozniak has used superficial arguments while making the statement. Defining creativity in terms of the presence of large tech firms is nothing less than short-sightedness. Wozniak’s dogmatic view stems from ignoring the most important element of creativity — the operating environment.

Mr Dalmia’s statement holds water. India is a country with different social stereotypes — caste demarcations, the role of family, religion and so on. We also have rigid laws, multiplicity of rules, and debilitating infrastructure and bureaucracy. Combined with factor markets — land, labour and capital — all controlled and heavily regulated, these form the operating environment. Rapid scaling of creativity needs generous access to risk capital, which has been missing from India for the most part.

“India has proved to be creative enough to launch satellites for several countries, including those with much higher per capita GDP than India. Given its shoestring budget, the Indian Space Research Organisation didn’t get here without creativity. India’s probe to Mars, for a fraction of the cost incurred by NASA, is dubbed as ‘useless ambition of a hungry country’ by the high priests of journalism in the US,” stated Dalmia.

Sanjay Dalmia continued, “And that’s not it. Indians who have migrated abroad, and found a different set of operating conditions, have presented the world with the kind of innovation Wozniak seeks. Around 33 per cent of all immigrant-founded companies in the US today have Indian founders. The CEOs of Google and Microsoft, two of the most valuable technology companies, are Indians. These people did not grow more creative overnight; they just got an amplifying and enabling environment that supported their creativity.”

According to the ace industrialist, what India lacks is risk-takers, not creativity. “Our youth is molded by the education system and the society in such a way that they seek nothing beyond a secure job with a lucrative salary package. When you run behind money, creativity can never follow. You have to choose one. Sadly, most youngsters pursue the former. However, this doesn’t mean they are not creative; they are just not willing to take the risk,” opined Mr Dalmia.

He appreciated Anand Mahindra’s approach to Wozniak’s criticism of India, and said that if the Indian youth is provided with the right opportunities, funding and operating environment like its Western counterparts, India would surely ace the parameters of creativity defined by Steve Wozniak.