Enough has been said and written about the launch of the Tatas’ new car, the Nano. Although as a commuter of the already crowded roads of Hyderabad, I personally am not too much in favor of such a cheap car for the simple fact that it will end up clogging the already traffic-clogged roads of the Metro cities, I do believe there is merit in the argument that this car will help quite a lot of people in the Tier II and Tier III cities of the country.
Yes, I do agree with Mr Ratan Tata when he argues that there are way too many Indians who are piling on their two-wheelers (read Bajaj Chetaks and Bajaj M-80s) with two kids, one wife, some sacks of rice, some cans of milk, and probably their small dogs, which end up being a lot more dangerous than probably one four wheeler in its place. However, the bigger issue to be addressed here is what it does to the roads of the country.
Read this interesting article by Somini Sengupta in the New York Times which says that while maybe the car is a boon, India and more specifically Indian two-wheeler commuters are not ready for this kind of revolution to hit the Indian roads. Her argument is that there are not enough trained car drivers in the country to make full use of this boom in low-cost cars. What will end up happening, is that more and more accidents will occur on the roads because of the urgent graduation from two-wheelers to low-cost four-wheelers. And maybe, these accidents will cause more traffic jams than the cars themselves.
The MBA mind that I have, I see an opportunity for more and more affordable driving schools in such a scenario. Maybe it is time for some budding entrepreneurs in the country to bring out the drawing boards, and come up with some innovative Business Plans to open up pan-India driving schools, which will ensure that all these new car owners are equipped to handle both their new vehicles as well as the choc-a-bloc Indian roads.