Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Of Indian bikes and Chinese cars

As I stood at a traffic intersection in Kathmandu observing the cars and bikes that drove past me, I could not but help observe that the majority of the cars are Chinese and most of the bikes are Indian. So, while there are the Maruti 800s, Altos, Wagon Rs, Sumos there is a fair smattering of Kia, Chery alongwith the usual big guns like Volkswagen, Ford and Toyota. But look at the bikes and most of the bikes are our very own Bajaj Pulsars, Hero Honda Splendors and a few Yamaha Fazers and the like.

Why that is so I did not exactly know. So I asked a Sherpa friend of mine who himself owns a well used Hero Honda Splendor. He said that while the Chinese bikes were cheaper, they gave too much trouble from a maintenance perspective and the Indian ones were way better. Of course, he could not tell me why it was not the same story in cars. Neither did I. He said it was a clash of Chinese and Indian businesses and on that count, he was right.

But looking at Nepal - it is is a place where India should have paid so much more attention - and I think that this is a golden opportunity that has been missed. Culturally, Nepal is so much closer to India and this is one aspect that India could have used to build much better bridges. I am not exactly sure what India should have done, but somehow when I see around, I sense a big missed opportunity there. Perhaps there is that window of opportunity yet -before the Chinese gobble up this one as well. Perhaps we need some smart leadership in India which recognizes Nepals potential and helps it get there...

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