Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Learning from the Frugal Mindset

Simone Ahuja at Asia Society New York on Jan. 28, 2010.

Simone Ahuja at Asia Society New York on Jan. 28, 2010.

How has creating the Indique television series affected you as an Indian-American?

It has been a very interesting ride. First of all, I realized how all these innovations can have a relevance to the West. That's a large part of my context. I live in the US. I work very often in India but I was born and raised in the US. So I see a lot of potential for knowledge sharing and not just this reverse innovation people talk about necessarily. I think there's a potential for a lot of rich ideas to flow from India to the US to Europe, in all different directions. That's pretty exciting.

I would also say, though, there's been some pushback when I talk like that. As an Indian American, potentially, I'm more interested in that. Now whether that's going to be universally accepted, that multi-channel knowledge flow, that I think is really important and is the future of innovation and the future of even this country, this kind of blending that's happening, remains to be seen. But for me as an Indian American, it just makes me really proud and really excited.

Do you think this may go over to other emerging nations who are more impoverished or smaller in scale?

If we talk about a jugaad mindset or that mindset that allows you to creatively improvise in spite of constrained resources, I think that happens very broadly in emerging markets. I think it happens in pockets in the US as well. I think it happened in the US all the time, pre-Industrial Revolution, with farmers especially, who been the best innovators this country has ever produced.

There are definitely people doing this here but I believe this is not unique to just to India. It's just that India, as a resource-constrained environment, and if I can add a really important piece—India's democratic, so there's liberty, like we have here and there's diversity, as we are here. Those two ingredients make it a little more relevant, potentially than, let's say, in China because we have those ingredients.

In the future, will you be moving your TV series into other emerging nations?

There has been a lot of interest in expanding the series. We had a limited period of time and there was so much research and so many innovations were discovered that we weren't able to address in this series. Within India, there's potential for another series, or exploration and documentation in innovations for other platforms. An ideal scenario would be documenting innovations globally, particularly in [brick] nations—outside of India, Brazil, Russia to a lesser extent, China, but definitely South America, even some African nations. There's a lot left to be explored.