Napolean once said of the English that they were a Nation of Shopkeepers. Such a pity that he chose to command his armies west to Waterloo, when he could have just as easily travelled our way to the east to, say, Watterama in erstwhile Ceylon. My point being, had he travelled extensively in Asia instead of Europe, he may have discovered an interesting thing or two about us, too – for example, that the Chinese are a Nation of Xeroxers and the Indians a Nation of Penny-Inventors.
(That intriguing happenchance of being ruled by the French instead of the British for a few centuries is material for another blog post surely – imagine, I could have been asking my cook for some extra pâté with my parantha this morning!)
Anyhow, coming back to us being a Nation of Penny-Inventors, how else does one reconcile things like the pressure cooker espresso coffee maker, or the sugarcane juice machine made of used bicycles, or the strange rural transportation ‘vehicles’ that we townies discover to our amazement on that occasional ‘field’ trip to the hinterland. It is quite unfortunate that the poor inventors of these jugaadoo implements have no clue about what a patent is, and their unique ideas are unable to reap millions and millions of rupees for them.
Of late, however, corporations worldwide have discovered that New Product Development and patenting new product ideas can be a massive cash cow for them. To that end, I started looking around for potential ideas myself, starting with a good read of my daily newspaper. Did I find some? You bet. Here are four poised for smashing commercial success.
The Anna Hazare Ginseng – So, everyone knows this story well – 3 important men decide to go on a fast (fast-unto-death, if you’d like to use the absolutely proper terminology). One is an elderly man in his mid-70s, a renowned freedom fighter and social reformer, the second is a modern day yogi, an accomplished belly dancer with a flowing black beard and a lazy eye, and the third is a highly educated angry young rebel on a mission to set afire the entire political machinery of the country. All three declare to everyone who lends an ear that theirs is a fast based on principles, and that there is no going back once they roll. So, the fast begins. While the old man trudges along happily despite being foodless for days on end, making speeches, humming patriotic songs and accepting flowers from little children, his other two chums fall like ninepins, practically within hours of deleting the Pizzahut Delivery phone number from their mobiles. Such are the hunger pangs that they make the yogi deliriously rant for women’s couture, and the rebel a seat in parliament!
Surely, there is something in Anna’s diet that makes him go on and on like a rabbit? And by rabbit I mean the Duracell bunny, of course. It is just a matter of time before food companies in India (Dabur, HUL, Nestle R&D folks to note, please) follow the man, whose life is an open book anyway, making copious notes on what he eats and what he avoids. Pretty soon, those ‘special’ ingredients will find their way into Anna Hazare Chyawanprash. Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle of Anna Hazare Ginseng.
The Low Intensity News Media Spinner – The news media in India is like a teenager with acute ADHD who has never been exposed to modern medicine (no diagnosis and hence, no medication). This untreated malady keeps them from focusing on any one thing for more than a few minutes. Everything is important and, hence, must be exposed immediately as breaking news. One minute a reporter might be chasing the new President, the next might have another chasing a rabid Pomeranian. However, it has been noticed that nothing surges their frenzy better than non-Diwali fireworks. The Low Intensity News Media Spinner is a toy explosive device that does not cause any harm to life or limb, but is loud enough to convince news outlets that they must drop everything that they are doing immediately, and rush to the location where the end of mankind is imminent. This toy can easily be planted in bicycles parked around fast-food restaurants, causing panic and distress to over-sugared and fat-saturated patrons.
This excellent distractive tool is sure to find a prominent place in the arsenals of the government and the civil society alike. It is battery operated, making it usable even during power blackouts. In fact, if used during a massive power outage (or, perhaps, the aforementioned fast) it would be deemed appropriate usage.
The Invisibilator – This is an idea for a brand new mind game that can be played on electronic devices, such as TV. It involves two teams, and the only pre-condition for player-selection is that participants on both sides bear extremely large yet undeserving egos. This is a game of oneupmanship where the mission is for the two teams to pretend to collaborate towards a common objective (say, Prevention of Corruption), but, in reality, lay out diametrically opposite game-plans so that consensus can never be achieved. Neither party must blink first. In fact, both must feign that the other team is so immoral and reprehensible that they are entirely invisible to them. Hence the name of the game.
Pre-printed Final Olympics Medal Count – Let’s face it. Every four years, as we proudly watch the turbaned and saree’ed Indian contingent, plus/minus a few hangers-on, walk the opening ceremony, there is medal-winning buzz surrounding practically every single athlete of ours. The shooters, the archers, the shuttlers, heck, even the hockey team are projected to ‘peak’ at just the right time. In the end, all that glitters is still gold, but, alas, around the necks of the Chinese and the Americans, while we are left with promised post mortems around “disappointment”, “pressure”, “shocked”, “disqualified”, “valiant effort”, “went down fighting” and “heartbreaking eighth place”.
To prevent our people from tethering close to a heart attack for the two weeks that the Olympics are on, printed lists of the projected final Olympics medal count can be put on sale a week prior to the start of Olympics at all retail outlets and stadiums. India will typically feature in the 30th position on this list, with a combination of 3 medals – say, one of each colour?, or perhaps 1 Gold and 2 Bronzes?, one can be creative. To make the price competitive, companies printing these lists can obtain tax benefits from the Ministry of Health.
Obviously, this is a growing list, so do contribute by making your own suggestions. Do your bit for the country.
Photo credit: imgur.com
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