Just how Indian are you, born as you were to an interracial couple and raised entirely in the West?
My upbringing was much, much more Indian than western. My father was very involved in the Quit India movement and my mother very interested in Indian philosophy. Freedom fighters who came to the US because of political persecution would stay in our small house. So, when I went to India and talked to the students at IIT, I felt a strong, sudden rapport.
Your company has just set up a subsidiary in India. Was it the liberalisation programme that gave you the impetus to do so or your part-Indianness?
A bit of both. I first tried in the '70s. I really wanted to do something because my father repeatedly told me I must do something in India some day. I wanted to and I tried, but it just wasn't possible—in the '70s, oh boy, it was really something! Now it finally looked as if the time was right and the changes were positive, so it was a real pleasure to go back.
What do you think of the liberalisation programme? How do you think it is going to benefit India and the Bose Corporation in India?
There is incredible talent in India and the colleges are good. Had things been different all these years, India would have been a first class industrial producer—and more—for the world. India, has—if managed correctly—an enormous future. I just hope India doesn't lose some of her values along the way. Of course, to a certain extent that is inevitable and I fear it may have already happened.
Will Bose Corporation manufacture in India too?
Not right now. The potential market there is very large and it doesn't make sense to supply from here. But we will manufacture locally only when we are able to make equally competitive, high-quality products there.
Indian professionals seem highly in demand in the US software industry. Is that also true of electronics?
Not necessarily and I'll tell you why. Here, children have, for decades, grown up with all sorts of electrical and mechanical toys. As a result, they develop 'hobbies in hardware', so to speak. In India, those things have not been so prevalent and so people turned to books. So in scholarly things, Indians are way ahead, but in practical things, they lag somewhat behind.
What is your advice to budding Indian entrepreneurs, both here and in India?
When I formed the company, I laid down a policy on day one that 100 per cent of our earnings would be ploughed back into R&D. We are not a public company precisely for that reason. So much time and energy goes into preparing quarterly statements and that sort of thing. Also, I have always placed equal weight upon the character and the technical abilities of people. All these are not exactly formulas to generate maximum money in the minimum time, which is what most people are interested in. So I really don't think my advice could be of any use.