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BW Businessworld

Phoney Natwarlal

Have the media drool over the phone. All is well in this scheme until the last line of fools stop booking.

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A 3G mobile phone for Rs 251 and my fellow countrymen flock like sheep to book it without even checking if such a thing can even exist. Now I want to make it clear I am a lover of innovation, even believe in so called crazy ideas. In the last 15 years of writing have always, every single time, stood for first generation products, no matter how trashy they were for a simple reason I believe in innovation. I believe even in the most radical ideas and don't really care what others think about it. But for me to believe a 3G mobile phone can be for Rs 251 defies even the basic-est commonsense. I am no expert in economics but I do know the price of a roti can never be below the price of atta. I do believe in free lunches, but even the rotis over there are funded. So who is funding this Rs 251 cell phone?

The Fool Funding
I could have called it the pool funding, but let's call it by its real name, the fool funding. Get a kirana shop to make the initial funding. Take out full page advertisements in the leading daily. Get 25 lac people to pay Rs 251. Now that's a decent amount of money. Promise 25000 deliveries. Even actually deliver 1000 units and claim 25000 units (who's checking). Have the media drool over the phone. All is well in this scheme until the last line of fools stop booking. It's called a ponzi scheme. People who have tried also chanted a lot of patriotic slogans.

Patriotism Is The Last Refuge Of The Scoundrels
How often do you find a Ratan Tata organising a national anthem singing marathon? Or Narayan Murthy chanting Bharat Mata ki Jai. They do what they are best at which is leading a company. Now paint the national flag on the phone and also write the government slogans.

Get Creative
It's fun watching a Special 26. I must have seen Dirty Rotten Scoundrels umpteen times. Those scoundrels at least applied their brains in the scams. They make you in awe of the scamster, more than the scam. Micheal Caine and Steve Martin are absolutely delightful scoundrels at their best. But in this case even the creative element is missing. That pains me more than the rest of the stuff.

The Last Word
I received a whatsapp message that says this a census of fools in India. On a more serious note is the government taking note that the world is watching "Make in India" and "Digital India". I wonder if this is a political conspiracy. Are we going to see a "Smart City" housing for Rs 1000 for a 2000 square feet flat? Ache din have indeed come if all this is true. But who knows this phone just might exist too! For now I let common sense prevail.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Puneet Mehrotra

Puneet Mehrotra is an author and columnist who loves inspiring people and writes on business and technolog

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