Sie sind auf Seite 1von 71

The Creative Genius of India

Heritage Program, Sep 2008


By Rajeev Srinivasan
Management Consultant, Columnist

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 1


Agenda
• Considering creativity
• India: the Empire of the Intellect
• The genesis of competitive advantage
• The Indian Century?

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 2


Creativity and civilization
• Creativity is the most important ingredient in human progress
• Creativity does not come in a vacuum: it is only possible in a
civilized society, where basic needs like food and shelter are
taken care of
• Ancient India was one such land, the most prosperous country
in the world from 2000 BCE to 1700 CE
• India was also the most creative of all civilizations: we have
forgotten more than most other civilizations created
• It was not only the Empire of the Spirit, but also the Empire of
the Intellect
• “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a
faithful servant”: physicist Albert Einstein
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 3
Art and Sculpture
• Much painting has disappeared due to the ravages of
time, but sculpture remains
• Chola bronzes as an apogee of Indian art
– The Kaveri delta in Tanjavur was very prosperous
– Agricultural surplus translated into leisure, wealth and art
• Sacred art as worship
• Conversely, the appreciation of the human figure
• Remarkable continuity of themes from Indus-
Sarasvati times
• Theory: rasas (sringara, hasya, raudra, karuna, …)
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 4
The Transcendent One

Siva Nataraja: Tanjavur, TN (11th cent


CE)

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 5


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 6
The beauteous ones

Devi: Tanjavur, TN (11th cent CE)


Tara: Nalanda, Bihar (11th cent CE)

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 7


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 8
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 9
The confused one

Rishyasringa: Madhya Pradesh (5th


cent CE)

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 10


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 11
The benevolent one

Ganesa: UP, 10th cent CE

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 12


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 13
The suffering one

Emaciated Buddha: Gandhara,


Afghanistan (2nd cent BCE)

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 14


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 15
At play

Krishna steals the gopis’ clothes: Kangra,


19th cent CE
Chariot: Harappa, Pakistan, 15th cent BCE

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 16


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 17
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 18
The love-lorn one

Krishna in viraha: unknown

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 19


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 20
The fierce ones

Krishna slays the elephant-rakshasa


Kuvalayapidham: unknown
Bhagavati, Teyyam: Kannur, Kerala,
2003
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 21
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 22
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 23
The gentle one

Manikyavachakar, Tanjavur, 13th cent


CE

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 24


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 25
Greater India: soft power
• Indic ideas were popular in the entire region
from West Asia to Southeast Asia
– Sanskrit-speaking Mitanni/Hittite kings in Syria
• Beauteous Queen Nefertiti’s father was ‘Thusharatha’
– Southeast Asia’s dominant influence was Indian
• Rajendra Chola’s invasion of Sumatra in 1017 CE
• Kalingas established Hinduism in Bali
• Indic ideas continue to be influential in Indo-china
– Languages use Indic alphabets: Thai, Javanese, Khmer
– World’s largest Buddhist temple: Borobudur (Indonesia)
– World’s largest Hindu temple: Angkor Wat (Cambodia) which
is the world’s largest religious structure
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 26
Indonesia

Borobudur, Java: 9th cent CE


Dieng Plateau, Java: 5th-8th cent CE
Death of Maricha: Prambanan, Java,
9th cent CE
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 27
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 28
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 29
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 30
Cambodia

Angkor Wat (12th cent CE), two views


Enigmatic heads at the Bayon (12th
cent CE)
Bhishma in sara sayya, Angkor Wat
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 31
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 32
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 33
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 34
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 35
The Empire of the Intellect
• Tremendous achievements:
– Panini’s grammar, Aryabhata’s astronomy
– Kerala school of math: infinite series and calculus
– Saayana and the speed of light (1400 CE)
– Kanada and atomic theory (600 BCE)
– Brahmagupta(?) and the zero (500 CE?)
– The greatest universities: Nalanda, Taxila
• Influence of Indic ideas on
– Christianity: monasticism, mythology, Gnostics
– Europe: Druids, Gundestrup cauldron, astronomy, fables
• Greeks: philosophy, mythology, epics
• More recently, great ideas from:
– C V Raman, S Chandrasekhar, J C Bose, Srinivasa Ramanujan
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 36
Formal Languages, Astronomy, Math
• Context free grammar: Panini (ca. 500 BCE)
– Possibly the single greatest achievement of one human mind
– The concept of algorithms is embedded in this
• Astronomy
– The earth is a rotating sphere, the size of the earth, the length of the
day, eclipses (Aryabhata ca. 499 CE)
– Heliocentrism (Parameswara, Nilakantha ca. 1400 CE)
• Mathematics
– Pythagoras theorem, squaring the circle (Baudhayana, Sulba Sutras,
ca. 800 BCE)
– Pi to six digits, table of sines (Aryabhata ca. 499 CE)
– Infinite series, calculus: (Nilakantha, Madhva ca. 1300 CE)
– Algebra (Aryabhata 499 CE, and Bhaskara II in “Lilavati”, ca. 1150 CE)

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 37


Astronomy
(Dharampal quoting British observers)
• The Observatory in Benares (published 1770 CE)
– “One of the five most celebrated in the world”
– Built roughly around 1575 CE
– The meridian for astronomical tables is Benares (like
Greenwich is meridian for European science)
• Astronomical tables refer to 3102 BCE as the beginning
of the Kaliyuga (paper published 1790)
– Astronomers either observed the celestial configuration or
were able to back-calculate them
– Indians knew of the 4 satellites of Jupiter, and the seven
satellites and ring of Saturn (before European telescopes
appeared)

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 38


Mathematics
(source: Dharmpal)
• Binomial theorem (a+b)n was known to
Indians (paper published 1790 CE)
• Algebra was known to the authors of the
‘Lilavati’ and ‘Bija Ganita’ (paper published
1820 CE)

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 39


Practical impact of abstract ideas
• The Indian numeral system
– Mathematics would have stagnated without the
revolutionary invention of the zero (and infinity)
• Infinite series for trigonometric functions
– Enabled navigation of the open ocean, as you
could locate yourself using sextant, tables
• Panini’s context-free grammar
– Computing would be impossible without precise
and unambiguous semantics for language

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 40


Medicine and Surgery
(source: Dharampal)
• Standard Indian surgical methods:
– Catarats: “depressing the lens when… opaque”
– Plastic surgery: “putting on noses”
– Healing: “caute”, the cement used for uniting
animal parts
– Inoculation against smallpox: banned by the
British in 1802!
• And the inoculators had a theory about “animalculae
(ie. Bacteria) which cause all epidemical diseases”

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 41


Ayurveda and Yoga
• Some of the most elaborate mechanisms for
wellness and health as well as curing
• Yoga as a mechanism for mental and physical
health as well as a spiritual practice

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 42


Agriculture
(source: Dharampal)
• “In Malabar, agriculture is an important and
honorable occupation” (paper written ~1820 CE)
• Principles of:
– Crop rotation, manuring, sowing via drill plough
– Propagation using cuttings (eg. Rice)
– Transplantation
– Irrigation was widespread but fell into disuse
• Unfortunately, prohibitive taxes (sometimes
>100% of the gross produce) imposed by the
British led to abandonment of fertile lands
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 43
Potential Agricultural Superpower
• Arable land: 57% of land mass (160 million hectares, cf. 14%
for US – 177 mh, 14% for China+Tibet – 124 mh)
• Productivity
– 900 CE, Tanjavar, Inscriptions: 15 tons of paddy/h
– 1100 CE, S Arcot, Inscriptions: 14.5 tons/h
– 1325 CE, Ramanathapuram, Inscriptions: 20 tons/h
– 1807 CE, Coimbatore, Europeans: 13 tons/h
– 1770 CE, Chengalpattu, British Survey: 9 tons/h
– 1803 CE, Allahabad, Europeans: 7.5 tons/h of wheat
– 1993 CE, Ludhiana, GoI: 4.3 tons/h wheat; 5.5 tons/h paddy
• Irrigation (1998)
– India 59 mh, China 53 mh, US 21 mh, Europe 17 mh, World 271 mh
• Source: Timeless India, Resurgent India: J Bajaj and MD Srinivas
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 44
Agriculture Under-served
• Indian agricultural production
– One of the largest producers of wheat, rice, tea, milk, coffee, cotton
– The second largest producer of fruits and vegetables
• But half the production is lost to rot and pests
– Not enough storage, refrigeration, or value add
– Poor mechanisms for getting it to market
– Not enough branding of organic, traditionally grown crops
• Water management, recharging of old ponds, tanks and
groundwater not being done
– Work by Tarun Bharat Sangh in re-greening Aravallis
– Over 100,000 tanks in South India: many have fallen into disuse

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 45


Food Security: Key to Prosperity
• India can become the world’s predominant
agricultural power
• Like OPEC, OFEC (Org of Food Exporting
Countries): food more valuable than oil
• India has a large genetic diversity of crops
(which is being reduced by monoculture)
• Food power is the basis of all prosperity
• Agriculture needs greater focus
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 46
Agricultural Landscapes
• Mehrgarh domesticated barley as early as
9000 BCE (photo of excavated village)
• Abundant rice-growing area: Nagercoil,
Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu
• The Grand Anicut on the Kaveri, built by
Karikala Chola, ~60 CE; still working

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 47


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 48
Textiles
• Indus-Sarasvati shows evidence of cotton spinning
• India was leading producer of textiles till 1800
• Vast variety: cotton painting from Sironj (Rajasthan),
printed cottons (Gujarat), wollens/pashmina
(Kashmir), silks (Patan, Benares, Mysore, Kanchi),
muslin (Dacca)
• Indian words: chintz, madras, calico, paisley,
jodhpurs, seersucker, cashmere, …
• British mill cloth destroyed this industry by imposing
huge duties and prohibiting it
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 49
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 50
Education
(Dharampal: “Beautiful Tree”)
• India had the oldest and greatest universities in the world:
Nalanda, Takshasila, Odantapuri
• Education was available to all castes
– 70% of students in Tamil areas, 54% in Malayalam areas, 62% in Oriya
areas, 35% in Telugu areas were Sudra and Ati-Sudra (Madras
Presidency, 1800)
• Even at the time of European invasion:
– “Every village has a school”, “Every 1,000 residents have a school” –
Munro, Governor, Madras Presidency, 1812
• The arrival of the alien European system destroyed traditional
education: this was intended to produce factory hands and
“brown sahibs”, not Indians who cared about India
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 51
Science and Technology
• India accounted for 25% of the world’s manufacture as late as
1750
– Tanjavur delta and Brahmaputra delta were two of the world’s four
greatest centers of industry
– The only source of diamonds in the world
– Specialty metals: “damascene/wootz”, Iron Pillar; textiles
– Specialty services: medicine, surgery
• Ayurveda, kalari payat: root of E Asian martial arts/medicine
• Sushruta: plastic surgery, Caesarians, 101 surgical instruments
• Charaka: digestion, metabolism, immunity, anatomy
– The average Indian agricultural or industrial worker was much better
off than his equivalent in England

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 52


Technology
(source: Dharampal)
• The making of ice
• Waterproofing material for ships
• Wootz, the finest steel in the world
– As many as 10,000 furnaces, making 20 tons/year
• Manufacturing of paper
• ‘Madras mortar’ for building

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 53


In economic terms, India was the world’s largest economy in the first millennium,
producing a third of global GDP. By 1500 its share had declined to 25 percent, as China
overtook it and Western Europe’s share began to expand rapidly. India’s share continued
to9/26/2008
fall after 1700. Rajeev Srinivasan 54
The British Interregnum
• Agricultural productivity was wiped out:
– Canals and tanks not kept up, famines caused 30 million
deaths
• Light industry was wiped out:
– Textiles damaged by prohibition, huge tariffs
– Weavers, metal-workers, potters, all paupered and turned
into unskilled landless laborers: the poor
• Enormous amounts of capital were taken out:
– $10 trillion in today’s money
– Financed the Industrial Revolution and still funds the UK

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 55


Statecraft
• Kautilya’s Artha-sastra is perhaps the most practical text for
managing a state. Quotes:
– "Learn from the mistakes of others... you can't live long enough to make them
all yourselves."
– "A person should not be too honest. Just as straight trees are cut down first,
honest people are taken advantage of first."
– "Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be."
– "The biggest guru-mantra is: Never share your secrets with anybody. It will
destroy you."
– "There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship
without self-interests. This is a bitter truth."
– " Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions - Why am I
doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you
think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead."

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 56


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 57
Peaceful and Democratic
• Tolerance for heresies; and for refugees
– Parsis, Syrian Christians, Tibetans,..; Buddhists, Jains,…
– Jews never oppressed only in India out of 148 nations
• Indus-Sarasvati noted for lack of armies, carvings glorifying
rulers or seals bearing scenes of war
– No huge palaces for kings and nobles either
– No signs of violent struggles over this vast area
• Tradition of democracy: eg. Tamil villages (Chengalpattu),
Indus-Sarasvati era
• Tradition of debate and argument eg. Al Biruni
• Coexistence/peaceful transitions: eg. Sabarimala, SE Asia

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 58


Largest Civilization (and oldest?)
• Mehrgarh, Baluchistan – settled around 6500 BCE
• Sarasvati dried up circa 1900 BCE
• Size of Indus Sarasvati greater than Mesopotamia, Egypt,
put together
• Astonishingly uniform weights/measures (decimal/binary)
(1:8/3:2:4:8:16:32:64), town planning, brick sizes
• Decimal: Scale at 1.70 mm, port with 1.70 m walls
• Far more sites clustered around Sarasvati than Indus:
– Kalibangan, Dholavira, Rakhigarhi, Lothal (port)
– See map, courtesy Michel Danino
http://micheldanino.bharatvani.org/indus.html

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 59


9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 60
Today’s India, in competition

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 61


The key to regain past prosperity?
• Agriculture?
• Intellectual property generation?
• Education?
• The storehouse of traditional knowledge?
• Innovation and knowledge management?
• Entrepreneurial skills?
• Or… all of the above?
• That which enabled ancient India to be the wealthiest land in
the world: is that sustainable?

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 62


Sources of competitive advantage
 The Michael Porter thesis on leadership:
 Low cost production
 Innovation/differentiation/customer intimacy
 Niche focus
 How does India stack up?
 Low labor cost (but not forever)
 Must focus on high value intellectual property
 Focus not on everything but a few areas

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 63


Megatrends of today
• “Engineering is the oil of the 21st century”
– Joel Kotkin, Californian sociologist, 1997
• “Demographics is destiny”
– Augustus Comte, French philosopher, 19th century CE
• “India has the potential to show the fastest growth over the
next 30 and 50 years”
– Goldman Sachs paper “Dreaming with BRICs”, 2003
• “India may catch up with and overtake China”
– Foreign Policy, Huang (MIT)/Khanna (Harvard), 2003
• These will merely put India back where it was for most of her
history
– Consider 1000 CE: Rajaraja Chola; end of Gupta Empire

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 64


India and its only rivals
• India and China
– India is the source of abstract thought, China focuses on concrete
things; and the future is abstract
– Indian ideas colonized Asia, although the Chinese migrated in large
numbers: because the ideas were useful
• India and America
– India can potentially compete with the US in every sphere where it is
strong:
• Agriculture, technology, finance, space, entertainment
– The persistence of Indian culture over time and despite invaders: the
merit in the syncretic approach
– A symbiotic relationship:
• Sales and marketing, finance: US
• Design and development: India

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 65


Goldman Sachs’ recommendations
1. Improve Governance
2. Raise basic educational achievement
3. Increase quantity and quality of universities
4. Control inflation
5. Introduce a credible fiscal strategy
6. Liberalize financial markets
7. Increase trade with neighbors
8. Increase agricultural productivity
9. Improve infrastructure
10. Improve environmental quality
Source: Ten Things for India to Achieve its Potential by 2050
9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 66
Conclusion
• History can give us self respect and self confidence:
Indians have the capacity to be thought-leaders
• Our past shows us the way to our future:
– We always chose butter over guns
• This century will see a splendid renaissance in India
– But we must first believe in ourselves
• India is the only continuously surviving ancient civilization
on earth
– And it was more creative than all others put together
– We have forgotten more than other civilizations created

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 67


Further Reading
• Ancient India
– “The invasion that never was”, Michel Danino
– “In search of the cradle of civilization”, Subhash Kak et al
– “Sarasvati”, Dr. S. Kalyanaraman
– http://micheldanino.bharatvani.org
– “Our Oriental Heritage”, “The Case for India”, Will Durant
• British period:
– “Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino and the Creation of the Third
World”, Mike Davis, 2001
– “’Prosperous’ British India”, William Digby

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 68


Further Reading (contd.)
• Mathematics and Science
– “Computing Science in Ancient India”, TRN Rao,Subhash Kak
– “The Kerala School of Math”, Ian Pearce
– “A Concise History of Science in India”, DN Bose et al, editors
– India's Scientific Mind: A Quest for Infinity", Michel Danino, Indian
Institute for Advanced Study, Sept 2003
– "The Universal History of Numbers", George Ifrah, John Wiley, 2002
– "Aryabhatiya of Aryabhata", KS Shukla and KV Sarma, ed, 1976
– "A Concise History of Science in India", Indian National Science
Academy, 1989
– "The Origin of Mathematics", A Seidenberg, 1978
– "500 years of Tantrasangraha: A Landmark in the History of
Astronomy", MS Sriram et al, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 2002

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 69


Further Reading (Contd…)
• Education
• The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the 18th century,
Dharampal, Impex India, 1971
• Art
– History of Indian and Indonesian Art, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy,
Dover, 1927
• Science and Technology
– Indian Science and Technology in the 18th century, Dharampal, Impex
India, 1971
• General
– Timeless India, Resurgent India, J Bajaj and M D Srinivas, Center for
Policy Studies, 2001
– Ten Things for India to Achieve its Potential by 2050, Goldman Sachs,
2008
– Videos from www.indiavideo.org

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 70


My information
• Blogs: rajeev2007.wordpress.com,
rajeev2004.blogspot.com
• Web page:
http://www.rediff.com/news/srinivas.html
• Email: rajeev.srinivasan@gmail.com

9/26/2008 Rajeev Srinivasan 71

Verwandte Interessen