And today, Hindustan Times has written about Prof Anil Gupta, who had moderated the panel discussion on innovations at Emtech 2010 (in which I was a panelist) and his work on discovering and popularising Indian innovations. The list of some innovations that have made a huge impact on the ground, but are totally indigenous and popularized by Prof Gupta must be an eye opener for Peter Thiel. I think none of these could have been thought of in the West.
I believe that each region comes with it's own separate challenges. I have seen this happen before - the West looks at solving problems in an entirely different way from the way the East does. This is not to say that one of these methods are better, but only to say that each place has a different set of constraints, and for the best solution to the local problems to emerge, the solutions have to emerge from places where the local constraints are best known. For example, taking the case of Vortex ATMs, I think the greatest innovation is not the reduced cost of ATMs, but the fact that due to its lower power consumption, the back-up time is greatly multiplied. The optimized solution for power constraints emerged only because the solution emerged from India, which faces a lot of power problems.
Similarly, the solutions like the cycle powered washing machine could also only emerge from places where making regular washing machines are a problem - places facing a lot of power cuts.
Hats off to Prof Gupta for his tireless efforts in spreading these ideas and popularizing them. May the local inventors thrive.