What’s All the Noise about Tata Small Car

I am in India and when I read everywhere about the Tata Small Car, I am flustered. Have we gone berserk to talk so much about it? Is it just another gup shup or is there something serious to all the concerns being thrown about its launch? E.g. road congestion, pollution, etc. I tried to think from different angles on the small car to find out for myself if the concerns are really worth it. Given the limitation of time in a single day, I will try to express my viewpoints in multiple small posts (like the car :-)) In each, I will try to explore a new viewpoint while trying to address any comments of previous post.

Air Conditioner v/s Fan is equal to Small Car v/s Motorcycle

Didn’t you know that there is so much power shortage in India? I did a quick google and found that the power shortage is estimated at 70,000 MW! With this kind of power shortage, people don’t get to run fans in their homes. Why is it that the government is allowing Air conditioners (ACs) to be sold? Well, the logic goes like this – should government mandate that everyone get to run fans in their homes all the time but no ACs please. Or should people run ACs and fans as per their purchasing power, for whatever time the power is available – while everyone also endures 2-7 hour power cuts.

Why isn’t that everyone who is cursing Tata Motors for bringing small car, also not cursing the companies who sell ACs? After all, the way Tata Motors is being blamed for trying to make it worse for road users, AC companies do make it worse for people with fans or bulbs – basic amenities. The grounds are common if you take the logic logically. Everyone looks upto the government for improving the power situation but does not curse the AC companies for a continuous reduction in the price of ACs. Why then should we not look upto the government to improve the road infrastructure instead of junking Tata Motors or other car companies for increasing the congestion with smaller and cheaper cars.

Well, the way I look at it – India has been a shortage economy and the shortage has been most severe in infrastructure areas – power, water, roads, telephones, etc. Does it mean that people stop thinking about better lifestyles – ACs, washing machines, cars, etc? Each one of us has his needs and the means to fulfill these needs. The companies address these by making goods for their target customer’s pockets. This is nothing but market economy! Should we junk the needs of human beings, the companies who fulfill them or shouldn’t we just ask for better infrastructure to facilitate the human needs?

Please give me your thoughts about it. My next post will be on the car markets in India and around. I will try to incorporate your comments in the next post.


3 Responses to “What’s All the Noise about Tata Small Car”

  1. jeycee Says:

    Dear Rakshit, I feel that there is a public policy and private need and both of these need to be looked at in isolated manner. e.g. as part of public policy, traffic restrictions, congestion charges, peak hour surcharge, etc. can be levied to manage traffic. But to curb private demand, as Sarah says – family outings whre infrastructure is not a constraint – is being unfair to freedom of choice of individuals.


  2. Rakshit Says:

    Hello Jeycee!

    Don’t you think that in a World (and especially Asia) that is moving towards Mass Rapid Transport Systems (Metros, BRTSs, etc.) the Small Car will only negate the effect??



  3. Sarah Says:

    Good analogy, Jeycee. I will follow your blogs. Writing style can be made crisper like in places like “logic logically.” I don’t follow what I preach. ;-))

    Most of the “developed economies” with plenty to lend out to the “shortage economies” faced the infrastructure predicament decades back. They went from few car owners, to more car owners to a car for every family member. People used cars to commute to and from workplaces/colleges or for family outings. Let’s analyze how they coped

    Consider large cities like New York, London, Toronto, Singapore, Johannesburg, California, Chicago, ….etc etc. like Mumbai, Bangalore etc…in India. There was “no space to expand” but enough money for infrastructure development. Limited modifications happened with flyovers and layering. Satellite cities developed. However, the solution was despite everyone “owning a car” denizens have been forced to car pool or take up public transport especially for commute to workplace/college. For family outings the cars are primarily outbound so the infrastructure issue was less relevant.

    For towns and townships, most countries have had time to plan their towns better. So for Grade B cities in India maybe infrastructure beefing is “still” possible? Unless of course they are already on the Mumbai path of super quick development.

    For villages, would infrastructure be an issue? Difficult to imagine Indians drive to work especially the trades they pursue in villages.

    Also, as for electricity for A/C’s it can be generated at a remote location and transmitted to place of use. The pricing per unit of power could be at a premium though. In case of roads it is a “here” and “now” requirement with only possibility of moving skywards.

    Hats off to Mr. Tata for the Tata Small Car. He is enabling all his countrypersons to afford a car. He is doing nothing wrong. Thank you, Mr.Tata.


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