Geopolitics with Balaji Srinivasan: Decline of USA, Rise of India/China & More, The Ranveer Show 349 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Geopolitics with Balaji Srinivasan: Decline of USA, Rise of India/China & More, The Ranveer Show 349".
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This whole 'soni ki chidiya' narrative, does the world know this about India or is it just Indians? Just Indians. Nuclear weapons were not in the Mahabharat. What are you saying, bro? I'm kidding. To simplify it, the American mindset right now is China bad, India good. Why is India good? India good because India is not China and India is like maybe America's friend against China. In India, the geopolitical narratives are that China is trying to do a lot of naughty shit in the world. Suddenly, being Indian has become a huge plus. We're considered intellectually sexy because of people like yourself. The podcast that we did with Dr Jaishankar, he's our External Affairs Minister. He didn't paint brain drain as something bad. In the US, the US has useful demographics and China is getting old before it's going to get rich. Is the fact that their one child policy is actually going to lead them to a bit of a demographic downfall. We're entering an era where it's robotics over demographics. How far are we from that reality? It's already happening. I don't think I've had a single person on this podcast who's broken it down in this much detail. Okay. Which is why I think you're valued in the podcasting space. Please go on good sir. I don't need to talk much about Balaji Srinivasan for anyone who's consuming podcasts regularly. He's a legend of the podcasting space, but he's also a legend of the tech world. He's a legend of the Twitterverse or the Xverse as it's known now. This is a conversation that's focused on geopolitics. For regular Balaji S listeners, you're going to have fun. For people who don't know about who Balaji S is, you're welcome. Thank me at the end of this conversation, because I'm introducing one of the most epic minds from the world of intellectuals in the modern day. Please enjoy today's episode. It's completely loaded. It's a very, very dense episode. You're going to have to listen to it multiple times, but if you enjoy geopolitics, this is a perspective on geopolitics from a very different place. It's Balaji Srinivasan on TRS. Honor of my life, good sir. Welcome to Mumbai. Welcome to India. Well, I'm glad to be back. Back to Bharat. This is where it all began. Certainly, our germline began here at least. OK. You're a bit of a cult figure even here. Things are spoken about Balaji Srinivasan in Mumbai, in Bangalore, in Delhi. Well, I appreciate that, and hopefully I hope to be more of an in-person leader over here and invest in people and so on locally. Yeah. I find that pretty crazy that you're kind of coming back. I don't know if that's the right phrase. I think I mentioned this before, but the first-- so I was born in the US, right? Born on Long Island, grew up in New York, and so on. And for the first 20 years of my life, being Indian was not-- it was something I put in the liabilities column, being the only Indian kid in the school of 400 Caucasian kids who-- they'd call you Gandhi, and you'd have to run around and be like, that's not an insult, but they didn't care, and this shit. So for the first 20-something years of life, that was a negative factor. Also, it was pre-internet. This was like 1982, 1997, 1980. There's no internet. You're basically in kind of jail, right? Because you're-- you could be region locked. Yeah. Yeah. Go ahead. So you're geography locked, you're information locked, because you can only read very baby books or whatever. Then the next 20 years, being Indian was kind of neutral, being in tech. So I went to Stanford, taught at Stanford, taught stats in CS, started a genomics company, did crypto, stuff like that. It was neutral. Nobody cared whether they're positive or negative. That was totally fine by me. You know what's happened in the last few years? What? Like, just the last five or six especially, but suddenly being Indian has become a huge plus. And I feel like, oh, wow, I had liability and then neutral, and now it's a huge asset, right? In the sense of-- We're considered intellectually sexy because of people like yourself. Well, I mean, India's accomplished a lot in the last 40 years, right? I think insofar as the diaspora has made a contribution, it's to show the world that, yeah, Indians can play at a top level and that India was just sort of temporarily-- had a temporarily unpleasant list the last few hundred years, which is actually a small amount in India's history as a civilization. And now that India's back or coming back on the world stage, a lot of things are happening at the same time. And so suddenly, if I had been born Gustav von Gustavsson, OK? Like my friend is a Swedish guy who runs a crypto hedge fund named Olaf. His tweets might be of interest in Sweden, but there's like a limited kind of demographic there, right? And Sweden is fine. It's a fine country. But India's at a certain moment in its history. And so a lot of the stars are kind of lining up at the same time where I've been fortunate enough to have some capital. India has this talent. And so I'm going to be investing a lot in India, all in on India for the months and years to come. OK. Do people know this whole "sonne ki chidiya" narrative, which effectively translates to the golden sparrow narrative that in medieval times we used to be the shit. Oh, yeah. And then we were colonized and money got taken away, resources got taken away, our education system broke down. Right. So does the world know this about India? Is it just Indians? Just Indians, kind of. Right. And the reason is that, OK, there's this sarcastic.
India'S Historical And Current Global Status
Suddenly the world is interested in India due to a change in the global narrative. (05:52)
This is a sarcastic phrase used on right wing Twitter that I don't endorse, but it's basically it says like we was kings. OK. And basically it's meant to sarcastically refer to any group of people that's saying, oh, we were important back in the day. And now they're basically talking about how, oh, we had kings and we were queens and so on. And you're like, well, you suck today. Right. And it was fake what you're saying in the past because it doesn't even exist and so on. Now, the thing about this is I sort of understand where that sentiment comes from, but I actually disagree with it because it isn't true that all of the achievements of the past were fake. You have to actually go back into the past and feel like, OK, what parts of it were real and what parts-- for example, nuclear weapons were not in the Mahabharata. OK. But some people will say-- What are you saying, Brian? I'm kidding. Go on. So people will make these sort of like insane claims about the past. And then you'll have to-- India was so great. We were nuking people, you know. Right? Right. Right. But you have to be able to disentangle that from what you can actually see. And the way I kind of think about it is history is running in reverse. I've got a whole slide deck or whatever on this, but I'll try and briefly sum it up. Please feel free. We have all the time. OK. Great. So the short version is that there's lots of events that were happening in the past that are happening today but in the opposite outcome. You can roughly think of, let's say, 1950 as a mirror moment. And going into that time period, everything is getting more centralized and more westernized. And then as you kind of go away from that, it gets more decentralized and de-westernized. And so let me just first give some examples to understand what I'm saying and then like get the pattern. So for example, in 1890, the US frontier, meaning the Western frontier where you'd go wild west. And so in 1890, the US frontier closed. But in 1991, the internet frontier opened because the internet became open for business. If you go backwards in time, you have Spanish flu. Forwards in time, you have COVID-19. You go backwards in time and you have China as the junior partner in the Russia-China relationship. Forwards in time, you have Russia as the junior partner in the Russia-China relationship. Backwards in time, you have a British ancestry man ruling India. Forwards in time, you have an Indian ancestry man running the UK. And it even gets to the point of like you had British guys talking about the partition of India. And now you have an Indian ancestry guy and a Pakistani ancestry guy running Scotland talking about the partition of the UK if you saw that.
Partition of India (08:43)
That was a huge viral meme. That meme is not just one thing. There's like 50 other examples like this, 100 other examples. I've written up in this book one of the chapters in the network state.
China-India came out of the civil war higher-unity (08:57)
And it's essentially-- I'll just give a few more. So back in time, in the 1930s, the New York Times sided with Stalinist Russia against Ukraine. I don't know if you know this. No. OK. Well, this is a bit of history that's being covered up. But the New York Times in the US was on the side of Stalin's Russia to choke out the rebellious presence of Ukraine. Today, it's the opposite. The New York Times is on the side of Ukraine against Russia. Lots of flips like that have happened. And another huge one is back in the day, the US was a massive exporter of goods, and China was just a market. And it had the Opium Wars, and it was addicted to drugs, and so on and so forth. Now that's kind of happening in reverse.
Information about the US before and after (09:45)
It's China that's a massive exporter of goods. The US is a market. And the US is a massive drug overdose and fentanyl problem. So many things like this are happening where that 1950-ish moment is like this mirror moment. And why is it a mirror moment? Well, one reason is that as you go into that thing, for hundreds of years, technology had been centralizing, like mass media and mass production, but also telegraph and the railroad and so on. But then you have the invention of the transistor, and things start decentralizing. You have the transistor, the personal computer, the internet, smartphone, cryptocurrency. And so all of the centralized structures that got built up over here, including just a few empires controlling the whole world like the US and the USSR, all of that centralization has just started metabolizing and breaking down in the West, at least. And so that's where you're getting more and more chaos there. Meanwhile, in the East, if you take that 1950 moment, the US at the time was very highly unified. It was the interstate highway system and so on. 1947, 1949, you have China and India coming off of civil war and partition. And they were basically just in the least unified, civil war and partition very dis-unified. The US was completely unified under basically one... Even if it was two parties, it was really one country. And now 70 years later, those are almost like in the opposite phase. India after struggling through for a while through socialism and so on is now the most unified it's ever been in its history. It was never one country before. And China is also very highly unified. The US is more and more dis-united. So that's like a macro frame I have on the world. And so we don't have to talk about how...
What should we be talking about when it comes to coexisting with China? (11:33)
I mean, we should know about it for sure. We should know within India how great Indian civilization was. But what makes people believe that is not the past. You know what makes people believe it? Is landing something on the moon. It's the future. What we're doing right now in order to build a more effective future. Yes. So within India, the narrative of we did do well in the past and we were only temporarily down the golden sparrow narrative and so on that you mentioned has merit. Outside, it sounds like whining or fake. Until you land something on the moon and then you can say, "Guess what? We put this on the moon for $75 million. It's less than the cost of making a movie about it in the US." That's impressive. That's globally impressive. The airports are impressive. The Mumbai airport, Bangalore airport, they're world-class airports. So hotels now, they're world-class. You can't ask for something... I mean, you can always do better. But it is at the same level as a Singapore or any first world country or what have you. In the term first world, I think we should start to deprecate it. Maybe India goes to birth or whatever. We'll see what happens with that. But you know what I used and said? We talk about the ascending world and the descending world. Because that talks about rates of change. See, first and third, it initially referred to first world of capitalist country, second world communist, third world non-aligned, but it became a ranking. That kind of implies a static aspect. So does developed and developing world. That's the more euphemistic way of talking about it. But even that is patronizing because it says the developed world is just where things are and everything just converges to that. It's binary. It's not just binary. It is binary, but it's not just that. It also says developed world has developed. It's done. And it can't get any better than that. Actually what's happening is that the "developed world" or first world, many big parts of it are declining. It's a declining world. Okay. I got to stop you there. You spoke about the ascending and the descending aspect. Could you quantify that a little bit in terms of timeline? Timeline. Yes. Boy. Well, so I would say, I mean, many people date it to 1991 for liberalization of India and 1978 for Deng Xiaoping's liberalization of China. That's kind of when the ascent phase began for both China and India.
PLACES OF ANGLO-SEX POWER (14:03)
When did the descent phase begin for the USA? You can date it to different... I mean, everybody will put the date decline happened at different moments. How can you quantify that? Look at, for example, percentage of US share of global GDP. I mean, that's a pretty good one. BRICS has just flipped that or what have you. And there's counter arguments on this. People will say, "Well, American tech companies are still doing well. What do you mean there's no American decline whatsoever?" This is a whole separate topic, but the short version is I think the internet is to America as America was to Britain. The internet is about as American as America is British. Wow. Okay. Go on. And actually India is a big part of that. America had British influence and it started out British, but eventually it realized it wasn't British. It was its own thing. And it was a big battle and eventually it broke free and it had its own government.
The future of territorial governance (15:00)
And then it had... Because initially it had its own people and it had its own land, but it didn't have its own government. Right? It had its own government. I think the internet is to America in a similar way where the internet has way more than Americans on it. In fact, even just among English users, the majority of English speakers on the internet are going to be? Indians. Indians. Just because of the size. Just because of the size. This means... Now, up until this point, Americans were the single largest group of English speakers. And so in any English speaking environment, you assume that the majority is American. And a lot of the things just kind of assume that the world revolves around it. Right? Soon that's just not going to be the case. Right? So just like there was a mass immigration of all these other European ethnicities into the USA and it wasn't just like British Isles to send to people. Similarly, all these other English speaking people on the English internet are going to completely change the character of it. Or already changed the character of it. And so it becomes something quite different for America. And so you've got a people and you've actually got a government because blockchains are digital governments. And contract law and this kind of stuff. But you don't have land. Right? So it's opposite. America had a people and had a land but not a government. The internet has a people and it's starting to have a digital government. Doesn't yet have land. And I think that's what comes next. Anyway. Okay. Go on. That's the whole network state concept. Right? Crowdfund territory offline. But coming all the way back up, I think the US doesn't have to decline, of course, for others to ascend. And I don't want it to. It just so happens that it is. Okay. It's the shantytowns, the homeless encampments in San Francisco. It's the drug overdoses. It's the drop in life expectancy. It is the political polarization and the violence and just the general lack of... And it's also the financial situation. The banks, they're getting downgraded and that's going to be very bad. Ray Dalio has written about all this. I won't recap all that. You can briefly though. Okay. I don't think too many people watch Ray Dalio's content in India. Okay. All right. Okay. There's a lot of Indians watching this, which is why I'm kind of, while I'm speaking with you, I'm tied between tying you down and saying, "Hey, could you explain this further?" Sure.
Indias Covertness on the world stage (17:15)
And just letting you go on and cater to the Balaji-ass audience. Okay. Okay. Sure. Sure. So let me say everything I said in a simpler kind of form. One, India actually has a glorious past. That's relevant within India. Sure. And only two, something that people around the world will listen to when they see India actually leveling up today and in the future and driving the future. Right? Moon probe, that's really impressive. India having enough clout to be a player on the global stage and suddenly somebody who's influential enough that other countries want their opinion. Nobody cared about India's opinion on, let's say, Iraq. Right? Back then, India was not a player on the world stage. Even during the financial crisis 10 years ago, you don't remember, at least I don't remember, oh, India's central bank being a major player in terms of global developments on that. Even five years ago, actually five years ago, Americans were still not in full alignment that China was an issue. Until really Trump in 2015, 2016, only Europe existed. There was this blissful ignorance about China and India growing. Then there was anger towards China. And then more recently there's been friendliness towards India, though India should also be very cautious about that friendliness. Right? Which I'll come back to that point. And the decline in the US is so significant that it's just safer walking around here. You feel that this is civilization on the ascent. That's a fundamental thing. People are... Go ahead. No, go on. I'm just visualizing everything you're saying, but go on. Yeah. All right. So what are the things that really jumped out to me as somebody who has a 40-year visual on India? When I came to India in the '80s and '90s, early '90s, before liberalization had fully kicked in or whatever, I was a kid then. What I remember honestly, can I be honest? Please. I remember filth, flies, animals in the streets, totally non-functional roads where you could go like this, huge crowds of people. It was just... Obviously, there was tradition, there was culture, there was religion.
Indias current Rise (19:29)
All of that was always there, and that's great, right? But I couldn't somehow square this. I was like, "The Indians that I know in the US are pretty good engineers, and they're good at software. They're doctors, this and that." Of course, it's a select group.
Thoughts on San Francisco (19:50)
But how did they let the country get so in disrepair like this? Is it really not possible to put it together? And of course, I was just a kid, so I didn't have the vocabulary to talk about this or think about this. I was like, "Okay, well, that's just how it is." I'd basically been pretty cynical about, "Oh, will the government ever get something done?" And it did. And then just the recent spate of successes, whether it's government, it's really public, private, really India Stacks successes with UPI and other and so on. It's a space program. It's not just the software. It's also the physical infrastructure. All of that has improved enough that it's visible. It's clear that it's improving. And that really matters. It's not the base. As an investor, what you care about is the rate of improvement or the rate of decline. If something is declining, even if it starts from a high point over here, you don't know where it's going to get. But if nothing is arresting that decline, nothing is arresting San Francisco's decline. It has gone from this beautiful city to something that's a byword for just filth and chaos. There's more poop on the streets in San Francisco than there is in India. Like okay, India is a big place. Let me put it like this. I'll be more precise. There are the parts of India that I've been to are cleaner than San Francisco. Really? Okay. So you have to actually go back and forth. There's now starting to be an overlap there. You're talking about something that was on two different planets. San Francisco was clean and so and so with India was over here. The fact that there is overlap now, where there are definitely parts of India that are better off and more moderate and so on, and there are parts of San Francisco that are absolutely filthy and terrible, indicates that these distributions that were completely disjoint now have overlap. That's a more precise way of saying it. Not that A is cleaner than B or B is cleaner than A, but rather that these now have overlap in a way that they never did. Anyway, so that is just my general feeling is of civilization in ascent and descent. The Dalio thing, I mentioned the Dalio thing. Just watch Ray Dalio's Principles of the Changing World Order. It's a 40-minute video that tells you a lot that I won't be able to just summarize all over here. But he, from a totally different angle, he doesn't even mention India in that video. He is starting to now. Again, as I said, the kind of American mindset sort of had picked up nothing because it was more than China and now just recently India. They've just registered these two particles moving fast in their kind of field of view. To simplify it, the American mindset right now is China bad, India good. Why is India good? India good because India is not China and India is like maybe America's friend against China. It's kind of like that stupid and simple.
The Indian Governments Difficulty in the World Today (22:30)
Let me pause, get your thoughts. Okay. I have so much to say. Yes. And again, as a podcaster, I'm content driven. Sure. I'm a very American American audience watching this as well. Sure. Which is why I kind of feel asking you questions about the Indian government because with my American friends, sometimes if I'm sharing things about the Indian government, a bunch of them switch off a little bit and I don't blame them. Sure. Because I think. They don't care about local politics. That's the thing about it. Right. I mean, they care a lot about what's happening in America. But the impression I get is they're not too bothered about what's happening in the world until after COVID-19. Yes. I feel things have changed. I've not been to America since 2018 or 19. Right. So I think that they're a little more interested in what's happening in the world right now, especially considering where the geopolitical world is at. In India, the geopolitical narratives are that China is trying to do a lot of, I mean, I'm really condensing thoughts here, but China's trying to do a lot of naughty shit in the world. Yeah. I mean, my view. So, right. So basically, this is complicated, right? The thing is that the US was so powerful in 1991 that an entire generation after it won the Cold War, right, that an entire generation of people has grown up thinking that being totally world dominant is their birthright, right?
The mentality is, Oh no, China! (23:41)
And because of this, until about 2015, nobody really gave any credit to the rest of the world. They didn't think anybody. This is in the US. So it's just, unless you're bombing it or as a terrorist or something like that, right, blowing it up. The rest of the world, okay, that's fine over there. And the rest of the world was basically, okay, maybe you're immigrating from there. Now you're an American and, okay, you came from India, you came to our colleges, great, and maybe you can level up here, right? But for the most part, it just wasn't a topic of active concern for the average person. It still isn't really for the average person. I'll come back to that. Obviously, the US foreign policy elite would move back and forth and would care about these countries in a certain way. And they wanted to make sure they were all under the US control and umbrella. But for the most part, the US just felt it was secure as kind of the global hegemon, right? That started to change around 2015 where essentially what Trump perceived was that something that people had talked about for a while, which is that China was a real threat to blue collar workers, right, from the US perspective. It's a very simplified way of talking about it. It was taking all these jobs, that's how they think about it. They're taking all their jobs. And so he, in 2015, do you remember those clips where he would say, China, China, China, China, right? That was mocked at the time for his emphasis on China. Why? Because still among elite American sentiment, they're like, why are you getting mad at that? They're just making plastic stuff at Walmart. They're not a big deal. Are you racist? You're a dummy. Why are you making such a big deal out of this, right? That was still the mentality in 2015, 2016, that this is stupid, xenophobic, protectionist, blah, blah, blah. Now, what happened, even three years later, by the way, even in 2019, Obama put out a documentary called American Factory where he advocates for US-China cooperation and so on and so forth. Then after COVID in 2020, the US flailed to such an extent. See, that was the first disaster that I can remember in my lifetime. Maybe when there's a hurricane in Haiti or something like that, you'll see video of brawny Marines going and helping people out of ditches and so on. And the US was always assumed to have the state capacity to not just take care of itself, but take care of everybody else. Even if it would blow up some people and it would help some people, it would have the state capacity to do that. It would be organized and so on. With COVID, the US was just flailing very publicly for everybody to see. In fact, Rolling Stone, for example, reported that supplies had to be airlifted from China to the US because, of course, all the physical stuff is being in China. So there was a huge blow to the... It's not articulate as such, but to the sense of America's standing in the world. After 2020, China in particular no longer respected the USA because they thought they had nailed COVID. Of course, they had messed up in their own way with infinite lockdown and so on and so forth. But they thought that they had a better model for society. This is really fundamentally what broke in my view after 2020 is that China had been kind of looking up to the US and thinking of it as a society that... There's a good chunk of people within China, even if not the CCP leadership level, but many of their daughters and sons who had gone and been educated there, they kind of looked up to the US still, thought of it as a better society in some ways. That was totally shattered after 2020. And the fact that China no longer looked up to the US and is now kind of making its own way... Champ and number one contender. Well, yeah. So here's the thing. At that point, now it wasn't just the blue checks. It wasn't just the blue collars that were threatened by China. It was the blue checks. So it wasn't just the working class, but the journalists, I mean, the elite of American society. They were like, "Wait a second. Our empire is being challenged by this other empire who's no longer listening to us." The part they haven't gotten yet is that last bit. They don't understand that China doesn't respect America. That is actually the key driver. Something is talked about in terms of military force and so on and so forth, but fundamentally it is China doesn't feel America is a better model anymore. That is the difference post 2020. What do you feel? What do I think? I think that most Americans don't know anything about China. And if you explain something about China, then often they'll be like, "What do you want? You're on the side of the Chinese? You're a CCP agent. You're a shill or something like that."
Demographics And Their Impact
Its been the CCP. (28:38)
But it's important to know basic facts. It's kind of like imagine you're playing another basketball team. You should know that that guy is a good three-point shooter. You're not like a, "Oh, you're a Knicks shill? You're advocating for him?" I'm like, "No, I'm just saying he's a good three-point shooter over here and he's had a good track record of that." "What? You hate us? You want us to lose?" Right? So the mentality is something where people have gotten to the point where making even factual observations on China, they'll kind of lose their mind. So with that out of the way, here's just some factual observations about China. They are about to flip Germany and Japan for being the number one car exporter because of the electric vehicles. They're by far number one in steel production. They are the number one exporter to most countries in the world. They have basically built a bunch of beautiful cities over the last 20, 30, 40 years. Of course, they've done all of this while having a total state that brooks absolutely zero descent outside of the party. Basically all of these different possible contenders, whether it's Falun Gong or it's the Uyghurs or it's the Hong Kong protesters or it's the tech guys like Jack Ma or anybody. Bo Jie Li is this guy who was like a left guy in 2012. He was like a Maoist. All of these different things, and they're from different parts on the political compass. Some are libertarian, some are left. None of that matters. Only the CCP, right? So all political dissent at a certain level is crushed. That's true. The thing is that their machine has been building most of the physical goods of the world. You have to acknowledge that that is true because it also impacts their relative military strength. For example, the US Secretary of the Navy just admitted, we can probably play that clip, that one Chinese shipyard has more shipbuilding capacity than all US shipyards combined. Do you know that? No. Okay. The US Navy has a slide showing that China has 200x the shipbuilding capacity of the USA. Of course, they've also got 200x the capacity of building almost everything else. So it's the peacetime manufacturing that translates into the wartime. The problem is many Americans are so invested in this image of themselves as a top gun and so on and so forth, that totally invincible military. There's a thousand movies that have said this.
Oh, and all the guns. (31:08)
This is their self-image. They just don't understand the level of strength that China has built. They kind of understand on the manufacturing side, but somehow it's hard for them to say, "Oh, and actually also all the guns too." Because that now is like, "Whoa, okay." The full logical implication that it's a very big deal. However, you have defense manufacturers like Raytheon, American defense manufacturer, saying publicly they can't decouple from China. So the American defense ecosystem is saying publicly that it's made in China. So in a sense, there's a lot to criticize about the Chinese model, but has it built an immense amount of power for modern China? It has built an immense amount of power for modern China. That is absolutely true. Go ahead. One of the geopolitical narratives about China in India is the fact that the one child policy is actually going to lead them to a bit of a demographic downfall. Oh yeah, this is the Xi'an thing.
Youth demographics (32:07)
So I mean, the reverse narrative is true in India, that we have a young population, which is going to build the next phase of India. It's going to be a huge working class. Yeah. And there's some truth to this. Okay. You don't think it's entirely true? No, I don't think it's entirely true. So you think that even though they have an aging population, it doesn't matter as much as the geopolitical commentators are saying that it does? Yeah. So basically there's this guy, I should basically just write, do one video that just kind of encodes this as a rebuttal or whatever. And then, so I don't have to, I can just cite that. Okay. This is that video. This is that video. Okay. Okay. Great. Well, I have to put up the slides and stuff, so I'll give you the links. Okay. All right. But essentially, so on the demographics point. Is it good that all else being equal, you'd want a younger population versus an older population? Yes. All else being equal. However, there's definitely countries that have huge young populations, Nigeria, Indonesia, et cetera, that, I mean, they're showing some economic growth, but let's say Estonia or Japan do not have huge young populations. However, they're highly modernized, right? It's not the entirety of it to say just sheer quantity in youth. Okay. There's more to it than that. So for example, often that comparison between, let me do first China versus US demographics and let's talk India demographics. The, it is not simply the quantity, sheer quantity of people. It's also the quality of people. And it's in the US, sometimes people will say, "Oh, the US has useful demographics and China is getting old before it's going to get rich and so it's finished, et cetera." Okay.
United States demographics (33:40)
This is cope in my, you know the term cope? Like, yeah. I mean, I can kind of understand what you mean by that. Okay. So it is taking... You're just seeing the stuff that suits your own narrative. Yeah, exactly. It's taking like one true fact, but actually the things pointed in the opposite direction. Because in the US, the, so first of all, you have the things I mentioned, you have soaring rates of drug overdoses, you have soaring rates or you have high and flat, but still high rates of out of bed lock births. Okay. So like broken homes, divorces. You have, and we're talking like huge numbers, okay? You've got plummeting life expectancy. It went like this, right? Which is a signal of something very catastrophically wrong in a society that life expectancy is falling off a cliff because of these so-called deaths of despair, right? You have due to drug overdoses and car crashes and other crazy kinds of things. Okay. You have huge amounts of the obviously political polarization and you also have ethnic polarization where racial groups are taught to hate each other, okay? And if you take that demographic pyramid, it's not just, "Oh, there's a lot of young Americans." The young Americans are mostly, for example, Latino immigrants or children of Latino immigrants or recent immigrants. And the older generation are like boomers. And supposedly these young immigrants are going to pay the social security of retiring boomers when social security is bust. That's not going to happen. So that's actually just a recipe for ratio economic conflict between two groups that see themselves as different because the entire press and academia are telling themselves to think of themselves as different, not like one unified young country where the only variable that matters is youth in America.
The youth isnt all good (35:19)
You need to go a little more granular than that, right? So actually the U.S. has just set itself up for like massive ethnic racial economic conflict. And it's something where they're just telling, it's like an illusion to say, "Oh, youth is good because that youth has to feel itself aligned with the elderly and not if it's being taxed to pay for the elderly." And the elderly will say, "Wait a second, I paid in social security. I should get it."
Here is what a 65 year old in the United States is paid in (35:51)
The entire social security thing, do you know what social security is? Like pension. It's like a pension, but it's a Ponzi. Okay. Okay. So it's not actually solvent. Okay. So maybe to explain this, you can take the example of a 65 year old in USA right now and what they were doing in the 90s, 2000s and 2000s. Yeah. So essentially through your entire adult life in the U.S. you pay into a fund called social security and there's like supposed to be some money there for you in retirement. But the U.S. government is terrible at accounting and terrible at actually having that money. And so there's a shortfall coming in terms of what it actually owes retirees. It taxed and then spent the money and then doesn't actually have it for the retirees. And if you had just had that money and had it in the stock market, you would have done much better anyway, put it in an index fund. So it's like a double loss. It was taxed from you when you could have used it as a young person or something like that. It was taken from you. And even if they had just forced you to invest it, you could have invested in something better. So they took it from you, they wasted it, and then you depend on it and it's not there. Right? And then so all of these older people will be mad, where's my social security check? And then the state will either have to tax or will have to print and dilute and then younger people will get mad that they're being taxed to pay for the older people. I mean, this is the type of stuff, let's be absolutely real, right?
Us, China, And The Analysis Of Their Situation
The United States is divided (37:04)
These are recipes that is a great way of getting the young to hate the old. Social security insolvency, right? And that's absolutely going to blow up. Okay. And this is one of like 15 different things. The point is that even the term United States, it's like the disunited States. Yeah. That's the impression I get from the outside when you listen to American podcasts or even if you meet Americans, it's extremely strong political opinions, which is fine, but they absolutely hate the other side. Yes. And you kind of almost look down on someone for just one of the tiny opinions that doesn't represent like everything that they think of. And honestly, that's happening a little bit in urban India because urban India is incredibly inspired by America, subconsciously. Unfortunately. So that's a big thing. Yeah. So let's come back to that. Go ahead. You don't see that happening in the rest of India. Right. And for a lot of urban Indians who want to build big businesses or big careers, they look at interior India as like the marketplace because that's where the money's actually increasing. Right. Right.
The reality of demographics (38:08)
So it kind of makes me think then, Hmm, it's exactly what you said about the descending world and the ascending world. Yes. It's complicated. So, you know, obviously you want to be able to sell into the U S so you need to understand the culture and so on and so forth without bring the bad aspects of the culture, you know, back over there. I also just, I don't mean any offense to Americans because often when you're speaking to Americans, it's very rare that you get to steel man arguments. Yeah. Unless you're listening to like Joe Rogan or Lex Friedman. Sure. Right. And so, so the thing is that basically I hopefully I don't think any offense intended, you know, the thing is that I mean, people recognize the degree of polarization. The demographic thing though is something where once you understand, okay, actually those demographics are not that great, right? Let's talk China's demographics. Okay. They, first of all, every math and science competition, just go and take a look. Usually China was programming, it's math, science. They do pretty darn well, right? A. B is they, they don't have, they have their own issues, okay, but they don't have massive ethnic riots in cities and so on and so forth. In fact, it's the opposite. They're using the state to totally crush that kind of thing. More importantly, the, when it comes to, so they're the opposite of fractious and disunified, right? They're unified under an iron fist, which is different, right? The other thing is that the demographic issue, the Chinese are, I mean, remember this is a population of 1.3 billion. Yeah, it's a decline. It's a relatively gradual decline and this is a much smaller population and it's got its internal problems that, you know, we're talking about. This is the US over here, 300 something million versus 1.3 billion. So it's this weird thing where we're like, oh my God, China's demographic, like demographics have been one of China's strengths forever. Their sheer quantity does have a quality there. With that said, they recognize that the country is getting older, that, you know, the one child policy was a mistake and so on and so forth. So what have they been doing? Basically anything that is possible for a state to do, they're going to try. They've got the three child policy now, they're doing subsidized IVF, they're shutting down, they have shut down all of these expensive afterschool education things that were making parents feel they had to spend so much money. So trying to shut that down. They have launched a total attack on like real estate prices that are trying to bring down real estate prices so that people can get married and have kids and have homes. They actually want to crash real estate prices. Xi has talked about, you know, homes should be for living in, not an investment, et cetera. And so all the regulars went out there and started trying to actually try to bring down home prices. They're doing some of the most interesting things. It's worth this not being widely reported outside of China, but South China Morning Post tracked some of this subsidized IVF. Do you know what IVF is? In vitro fertilization. So that is something that's at like a few percentage points in terms of, you know, I don't know the exact number, but between one to 10 percent, but probably like four or five percent. But it's been creeping up in terms of the percentage of births with that. Maybe five is a high number. I have to look at the exact number, but it's on the order of that. I love how you get into the details. And I think this is why people listen to you, but go on. Because usually people take tiny narratives and generalize massive predictions based on those tiny narratives. But you're getting into the details and then drawing out geopolitics.
The advantage of China (41:30)
I try you. I try to. And I may be wrong, but at least I've got I can explain my reasoning. I don't think I've had a single person on this podcast who's broken it down in this much detail. OK. And I don't even hear these kind of geopolitical narratives on American podcasts, which is why I think you're valued in the podcasting space. Please go on. OK. OK. Good. Good. So what does China excel at? China excels at taking a technology that works and taking it apart and figuring out how to just scale it. Just to scale it, that's the China model. And to make it cost effective or very cheap, very scalable, and just mass, mass, mass produced. Given that technological bit of fire, they just improve it. IVF works. IVF has worked for a long time. There's a whole tech stack around IVF. And what China is looking at is maybe every Chinese woman just gets free IVF. And so they get two children, three children per person where they just mass produce them. This is not actually totally crazy for them to do that if they lean into that at the society level. Knowing their past tendencies. Yeah. And if they see a problem, they'll solve it and grow really fast. Yeah, exactly. Have you heard of this guy Cass Sunstein? No? Indeed, this guy, policy guy, he wrote this book called Nudge. You know what the equivalent in China would be? It'd be shove. Force people into helping your geopolitical problems. Yeah. Well, because for example, we just had the whole COVID thing where you had to show a pass to show your vaccination status to open a door or something like that. Is it that big a step to say to show your pregnancy status, how many kids you've had, and you get to the front of the bus, front of the line? Right? Actually, a lot of countries are experimenting this kind of thing. For example, I think I may be misquoting this, but I believe in Hungary, if you have a certain number of children, that woman is like tax free for life. Okay. And you could probably pencil it out and it probably does work out mathematically. You know, like in the sense of, okay, this number of children, well, they will produce Z dollars in taxes over their lifespan and this person will produce less than that. So we'll take more money in the future for less stay. It probably works out economically, right? Something like that could also work. So China will just throw the kitchen sink at this. Whether that actually... And then they've also got Chinese nationalism, which is a powerful force in its own to motivate people. So whether that actually works is TBD because they threw this powerful state at COVID and that wasn't actually what solved COVID. It was vaccination and perhaps just natural immunity from the virus just having its way with the population and getting all the people who were vulnerable to it and then going away like a summer storm. It just burned through everybody who was vulnerable and then it was finished, right? People had immunity plus vaccination. So putting people, locking them down and so on was just the state doing things that the so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions didn't have an effect. So when I say if state intervention can have an effect, that's not obvious that it will. But if it is possible for a powerful state to get the birth rates up, then China will be doing that. And then last and maybe the most important is we're entering an era where it's robotics over demographics. Right? Damn. Okay. And the reason is you have robots themselves, you have AIs, so you can substitute techno capital for human capital in more and more and more things. Go ahead. How far are we from that reality? Robotics. It's already happening, right? Yeah.
Ignoring statistics (45:20)
I mean, you can already have support bots, support chat bots are better than human chat bots in many contexts, right? Okay. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Yeah. The one thing I've learned about geopolitics is that whoever's richer wins the geopolitical game on many fronts. Oh, I so disagree with this. Okay. Yeah. You can, I want to be schooled honestly. So I'm going to, I'm going to lay out a lot of the geopolitical narratives I've learned on the show. And these are the narratives of my audience and a lot of people around the world. The countries that are richer win geopolitical races. That's one, as in geopolitical competitions. The second is that in order to become richer, you focus on manufacturing and in order to improve manufacturing, you focus on infrastructure in order to focus on infrastructure and manufacturing in the longterm, you need more people. Like that's probably what's happened in the recent past, like with China's massive population, helping the manufacturing, helping the infrastructure growth, therefore helping them geopolitically. Okay. Uh, the other first person who's come on and said that no robotics is going to replace demographics as a requirement. Yes. I think the only way to predict the distant future is to kind of study the distant past. And in the distant past, wars were won because of technology. Whoever had superior technology would actually win the biggest wars. I think a repeat of that is going to happen. So whoever was the technological leader in the world will probably come out in the geopolitical race. Yes. Please correct me wherever you disagree. Okay. So there's several, there's a lot of, there's a lot of good there, but let me shoot at like about five different points there. Okay. One is why did I say the rich guy won't necessarily win, right? Well, San Francisco is spending $300 million on a bus lane and India landed a probe on the dark side of the moon for one fourth the price of that.
Okay. So when you're rich, but they're spending that inefficiently, they will become poor. It's that whole Joe Rogan narrative about soft times create soft people. Yeah, exactly. I mean, this is all, the US' main export is the dollar. Like leave aside tech America. Okay, go ahead.
The gold standard and the humbling of the US future (47:22)
No, go on, go on. Yeah. So, so leaving tech America aside, right? The main export is the dollar. And if you've got a printing press, why would you bother dirtying your hands mining coal? Right? Why would you bother digging something out of the ground? Why would you bother going and like actually creating value, just run off another $50 bills and hand them out? Of course they don't actually physically do that, but conceptually, right? So the problem is that when you do that, everybody else gains a capability to make stuff. China makes stuff, right? And the factories are in China. And then suddenly what happens one day is you're, and this is the USA, it's just got a money printer and it administers a network. I'll come back to that point. But it's got a money printer, but it doesn't have the factory and the manufacturing assets, it doesn't have the supply chain and that's all overseas and the real world is overseas. So in a sense, sometimes being so wealthy makes you like a spoiled, privileged guy who's inherited a huge fortune and doesn't know how to work for a living, right? They're so rich, they don't know how to work for a living, right? The way I put it is it's like founding versus inheriting. So think about a guy who founds a factory and that's an entrepreneur and they're like Henry Ford or Rockefeller, like captain of industry. Then they pass it down and then the fifth generation grandson or whatever inherits a Ford or Rockefeller name. So they're legitimate. But if you ask them to go and build a car factory or run an oil derrick, they're not competent. No offense to those guys or whatever, I'm not beating up with the Ford or the Rocker those. Just an abstract example. Point being that that's actually what has happened with the establishment. Like George Washington or the guys that did the Manhattan Project, those are all like founder level guys who did like zero to one, something that had never been done before. And now all the people running the US establishment are just inheritors. They could never have built those things in the first place. And in fact, what they have inherited, they've started to destroy with like the state of the streets of San Francisco and many other things. That's the most visible piece. It's where the abundance mindset goes wrong. Yeah. It's abundance mindset becomes arrogance mindset.
Geopolitics, Development, And Industrial Policy
Conceit of an abundance mindset (49:40)
Like it becomes infinity mindset. And it's like nothing, no constraints. You print infinite money, nothing ever happens. Right? So that's why the point about the richer party wins. The US only has financial wealth. China actually has the physical world and it does deals with the BRICS countries and it's piping oil and so on. There's red America still does some physical labor and gray America, tech America still definitely generates value. But blue America, like the administrative state is the majority. It's like dominant and it doesn't understand that like the legal work that it provides to the rest of the world. Well actually here's one way of thinking about it. Think of the US as like, especially after 1991, as being like the CEO of the world. Okay? Everybody else is like a worker that works and the US provides the rules based order, so to speak. And it fires or disciplines somebody who gets out of line and it takes a cut for all of these services. Okay? But it's COO who has built this giant manufacturing thing, no longer wants to listen to the CEO. And the COO is the one who actually knows how the whole thing works and knows where the screws are and the bolts and the nuts are. And that's like kind of similar to this conflict. And in many ways, a lot of other countries around the world also want to fire the CEO. They don't want the US to be, you know, like they don't want the US in control of all their affairs. They don't want them sanctioning this, sanctioning that, blocking this, doing that. The US they don't feel is a good leader anymore. Right? And the leader, the CEO is really mad about this because they don't want to lose their power. Right? But they also don't want to, you know, it's been such a long time since they were a rank and file worker who had to work for a living and actually had to build and ship things.
What great power competition means today (51:21)
It was like a couple of generations ago that they also don't know what to do outside of this. Okay? That's like a rough analogy for this is that a good chunk of the world wants to quote fire the CEO, which is they want to fire the US as leader of the world. There's a woman named actually Fiona Hill, who is a neocon-ish type, but who wrote a really good article about this a few months ago that Glenn Greenwald tweeted. And I want to say it's something like, it was the Lenard Mary lecture. Okay. So you can probably find it from that. And she talked about how when people talk about Ukraine, they're talking about Ukraine as a proxy war of the US versus Russia. Yeah. But she, and this is an American neocon who supports that war and so on. She's like, actually in many ways, it's a proxy war of the world using Russia against the US order. Wow. Okay. Okay. So lots of countries, even if they have no beef with Ukraine, they don't like the US telling them, okay, we're going to sanction you here. You can't do this human rights lecture, et cetera, et cetera. They don't believe the US has any authority on human rights after blowing up the whole Middle East to kill all these people. What authority does it have? It just said it's systemically racist at home. It said it hates black and brown people. Then it gets on TV like 18 months later and they're saying we're the champion of democracy and all the black and brown countries have to get behind us for Ukraine or whatever. So the reason, by the way, do you know why that's a failure? You know why that happened? Because in 2020, Democrats were running against Republicans. So it was to their interest when they're fighting Republicans to say America is systemically racist. Oh my God, we're so bad. And then they won that battle. Then when they're fighting Russians, now they're the champion of democracy. And so what's happened is because of the internet, the domestic propaganda and the foreign propaganda can be seen by the same person and the context collapses. And that's new. And we have enough memory to remember things from just a little bit away. It used to be that the domestic message and the foreign message could be like who would read all the local papers and all the global papers and be able to put that together and disseminate that. You wouldn't be able to do that.
Robotics is greater than demographics in geopolitics. (53:32)
So you could narrow cast one message and broadcast another message. And that's not what's there anymore. Going back to your thing about you had a story about the factors of things that would lead to dominance. Geobilitical dominance. Yes. And we were talking about robotics and demographics. So one is wealth alone doesn't get you there. Or rather, money alone doesn't get you there because if you spend it very inefficiently, you get stuff like we were talking about. Number two is it's not sheer quantity of population. The huge part of the Industrial Revolution was going from your strong back to effectively mining muscle out of the ground with coal and oil and so on. And that's why we call it horsepower. You've heard like a horsepower engine. In a sense where it comes from is if I was to have a bunch of horses pull this cart, how many would I need versus replace those horses with an engine, what is the horsepower of that engine? That's conceptually where it comes from. So you're like mining the muscle of a horse or a human out of the ground as a rock or a barrel of oil, a rock of coal or a barrel of oil. And that completely changed the world because we could replace muscle with something artificial. Now with AI, we can replace brain with something artificial. You can replace muscle with coal and you can replace brain with silicon. So that's as huge change as like learning that you could use coal and oil to build engines, that's how big a deal AI is. That's why robotics is demographics. Because you can put this brain into all kinds of things where there would have been a human brain before, just so you can put an engine into all kinds of things where there would have been a human muscle before. And that will increase our capabilities to an extent that people didn't even get yet. It's a new huge factor in the geopolitical race of the world. It's yes, I mean, yes, but it's also, it's at the scale of like oil. In terms of how it just transforms what humans do. Okay. Coal, it's like that, right? You're replacing something where you need to have a human in the loop or you just don't. The thing is also, this is not a theoretical thing. You know why I say robotics is greater than demographics? It's kind of already happened on the internet. You know why? Well, 12 years ago, Instagram had about, it's on the order of 12 people, 13 people. And Kodak had about a thousand X number, 13,000 people. Who won? Instagram, right? So, they're one, 1000th size with 1000 X as many users for their digital photography, right? So, that's like a million fold differential of a small, highly motivated team with the internet. Why is that? Because they could hit a key and they could automate all these things, right? They weren't manually going in, having a dark room where they hold up all those photos. Remember from the '80s, they weren't doing all that. Those were done on servers. So, they had robots working, we call them, they call them online, you call them bots, right? You call them bots online. They had bots, automated jobs, schedulers that would take in things from their users and they would signal process them and apply the filters and give them back, right? They didn't have a huge dark room doing this because robotics are demographics. Rather than have thousands of people doing this manually, they had code doing it, right? And that's the story of the last 20 years is everything online is automated and a small team can do much, much more than a large number of people if that small team is smart enough. You give the right instructions to the right robots and then you just sit back and everything is taken care of, okay? That fits the Indian mindset, by the way. Yeah.
Leaping forward by skipping eon of development (57:23)
Right? We just want to kind of, right? We don't want to crank the thing all day long. We want to figure it out, write the right instructions and let it go. Small and efficient. Yes. So that's our leapfrog strategy, okay? So just like you go from nothing to... You don't go to landlines, you go directly to cell phones. India, if it does want to get into manufacturing, should just go straight to robotics. Boom. Okay? Right? Why is this? And this is part of a general thesis, which is... I did this on Thunmay's show a while back, How India Can Win, Win. So we can link that in here, okay? I guess you know him, he's a friend and so on. I know he's in another podcast. You don't want to link it in another podcast, but it's fine. But basically, the overall theory is India's strategy should be software first on everything. So because India is really strong on software, so every problem converted into a software problem. So how do you convert manufacturing into a software problem? Robotics. Right? So there's a six degree of freedom arm, which is like... So it's why is it six? It's like X, Y, and Z. And then it's theta and phi, it's orientation in three space. Okay? Didn't understand this. Didn't understand this. All right. Point is, there's a robot arm, a type of robot arm called the six degree of freedom robot arm, where just with software, you can do a lot. Okay. Okay? And pause me anytime, I'm just saying stuff that is not... No, this is the only point. Go ahead. Okay. The thing about robotics is actually there's a lot of Indians who are good at robotics. I did robotics in my first company, genomics company. There's Gray Orange, there's diapers.com, there's like Mithra Robotics. There's this new thing called Clone that Gary Tan and I just funded by Indian guy in the US. There's quite a lot of Indians into robotics. It's something that we're good at, I think. Or at least we're definitely competitive in it. Indians have had lower labor productivity than Chinese for a long time, if you've gone and measured that. And it's a little bit like... It's funny to put it this way, but it's just something where... There's this Russell Peters clip. Do you know Russell Peters? Okay. So he's talking about how Indians were once slaves. And he's like, "But can you imagine an Indian who's a slave?" And I go, "No, you picked the... I'll make the t-shirts." Remember that part, that clip? We can play that clip. I'm messing it up. Point being that the Indian steer typically wants to just figure it out conceptually and not do the manual labor if they can avoid it. So robotics fits that mindset. It fits that cultural groove of figuring it... Because actually it's quite hard, by the way, conceptually and mathematically to figure out exactly how you orient this robot arm and how you script it. That's code, that's math, that's intellectually challenging, that we like. Figure that out and then let the assembly line run. Okay? All right. So coming back. So A, in your narrative about what generates power, first, money alone doesn't necessarily do it. Too much money can actually be a weakness. Two, the I thing is as big as coal or oil. And in the past, it wasn't just quantity of people, it was once we got to coal and oil, you could mine muscle out of the ground. Now we can mine brain out of the ground with silicon. Three, the robotics are greater than demographics. It's not some futuristic thing where you actually have to... People when I say that, sometimes they have to visualize a physical robot running around. We will get that. Okay?
Industrial Policy (01:01:03)
Tesla's working on that. There's a lot of this stuff out there. Robotics is far more advanced. Have you seen the Boston Dynamics videos? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Actually, we'll put a clip up maybe that I tweeted a few months ago. It's like 10 years of progress. And it shows over the last 10 years how physical walking robots have gone from very slow and connected by a cable consuming a lot of power to things that can move completely on their own, do backflips. Have you seen that kind of stuff? Yeah. Right? Like the Jetsons. Like the Jetsons. We're getting closer to the Jetsons. Yeah. That's right. That's right. So I think that within our lifetime, everybody will have their own robotic Man Friday or Jeeves or multiple. Like you'll have a house robot like your car that is coming. So that should be an important goal. Like if you have a few goals for India, that's a big one. I actually wish this would be a good thing for some senior politician to do. Is for any area where India wants to do well technologically, they should have like a custom IAT style exam that they just tweet out. For example, let's say you want India to do well. Like you've heard the term industrial policy, right? Everybody thinks industrial policy means spending money. Okay. But it could just be you put together a rigorous exam on robotics, you tweet that out, and the top 10 scorers get an audience with a prime minister. Damn. Okay. What do you get? You'll get 10 million kids across the country studying for this, leveling up the country, in that skill set for basically free. You have the curriculum online as well. And then the winners go and get an audience with PMO and they talk about what they're doing for like one hour of time from PMO, which time is valuable, of course. You have this very scalable thing. You have to build a curriculum and so on beforehand. And think about how much cheaper that is than spending money. That's what I'd like to see India's industrial policy. You're doing the Indian thing, but I say, "Oh, come up with a concept I want." Yes, exactly. Right? That's skills. It's smart lazy. Right. Right? Love that. It is how do you get leverage out of it and do it in a smart way, right? And what that does is, I mean, industrial policy is not about money. It's about skills, skill building. Skill building is about education. The reason I know the US isn't serious about this is it's just spending money. You know what it isn't doing? It's not Biden tweeting out an exam about quantum mechanics. Right? If you're actually serious about semiconductor leadership, he should be talking about the bay... I mean, not that he even knows what this stuff is, okay? But like the band gap and crystal structures and like... You could actually devote these political feeds to something more valuable than just stupid, lowest common denominator stuff, right? You could direct people's attention to what's important. What I just described, by the way, with that like robotics exam competition, you can apply it for nuclear power, right? You can apply it for any other area of interest to the country. You take India's existing exam culture, because we have an exam culture, right? The JEE and so on and so forth. You take India's existing exam creators, right? Because you've got the people who set the JEE, right? The ones who write the JEE questions. You just task them with doing this, okay? And maybe you have proctored administration of the exam, okay? So there's some of the logistics that are associated with that. There you go. That's your industrial policy. Okay. Okay. This is probably the podcast where I've spoken the least, because you're breaking a lot of my preconceived notions about a lot of different things. Also, I'm trying to download as much as I can off of you, and I'm going to take this in my further podcast. Totally. Especially when I'm talking to the politicians. Yep. Because I've spoken to a lot of politicians in the recent past, and I know that they listen. But they're so busy that they want condensed information. Totally, totally. Totally. Yes. Okay. So one of my requests to the audience is, I know there's a lot of Twitter users listening to this episode, try making threads which will eventually reach people like Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Dr. Jaishankar, and PM Modi. Yeah. We can do the one minute version, 142nd version compressed at the end. Yes. Okay. No, no, for sure. I love that you're breaking geopolitical narratives, et cetera. And you're kind of giving a strategic roadmap about what we are supposed to going forward. Yes. I have a lot of geopolitical questions related to India, which we come to in some time. Yes. I'm going to like break away from geopolitics just for a second. Totally. And kind of go to a bit of a human level with you. Okay, sure. Of course. Okay. And again, please correct me where I'm making a wrong assumption. Of course, of course. Okay. So the narrative for the longest time on the Indian internet, I'd probably even go as far as saying up to the podcast that we did with Dr. Jaishankar, which was in May of this year.
Why Indian pioneers need the current Indian system (01:05:52)
He's a external affairs minister. He didn't paint brain drain as something bad. That was the narrative on the Indian internet for very long that we've lost a lot of smart Indians to the rest of the world. Oh yeah. Which was true, which is called the brain drain problem. Brain circulation is a better term or something like that. People have said. And that brain drain was the common term you'd hear in India. Right. Okay. I'll give you a visual of what it was like growing up in India for me. I'm born in 1993. All my life, I was told by all my relatives that my biggest goal in life should be leaving the country. And by nature, I was a very rebellious person. So the more I was told to leave the country, the more I wanted to stay. So I ended up staying all my friends ended up leaving. Most of them went to America. Many of them wish to come back. I wanted to take the same rebellious narrative and put it online. So I kind of fed this reverse brain drain problem. I said, no, you got to come back and you got to help the country. And then we have Dr. Jaishankar on the show and he said that, no, no, don't look at it that way. But like the Indians abroad need to have the Indians here, help the geopolitical game that India is playing. Yes. Like we need to work together, like more like a tag team. Okay. So I'll give a framework on this. Sure. Right. So China is 10X Germany, India is 10X Israel. Okay. So China is 10X Germany and I'll get to India in a second. Why say China is 10X Germany? So China today is similar to the Germany of the early 20th century, where it is a manufacturing Goliath colossus, really, that is highly militarized under one supreme leader, okay, non-English speaking with territorial issues nearby, a beef against the Anglo-American order, and is a legit contender for the tech and military power of the whole world, which in turn is causing a bandwagoning against it, okay, and a unification within the country, right? Very similar. Now, of course, those were non-white, you know, those are, you know, in Germany they were white and on the right and in China they're non-white and ostensibly communist and on the left. Otherwise, modeling China's 10X Germany as this giant manufacturing Goliath that's just very highly organized is a good way of thinking about it. Conversely, India is like 10X Israel, okay? So India has, so both China and India have a diaspora, right?
International Influence Of India And China
Chinese & Indian Influence in The World (01:08:25)
But China's diaspora is starting to get pushed back abroad because all kinds of countries are I think in many cases very stereotypically and it's unfortunate, but they're like, "Oh, hello, every Chinese immigrant, every Chinese tech guy, every Chinese person in academia," especially if they've got a Chinese first name, which indicates that they usually came from China recently, they're under suspicion of being a Chinese spy in the US, right? So it's becoming harder for the Chinese diaspora abroad. They're getting pushed back and I think it'll be in those countries where China has hard power like Iran or Africa, the Chinese diaspora can operate. And then they're like an extension of the Chinese state over there. But their soft power is eroding dramatically in the West and so on. India, and the reason that's important is if you go and look at academia in the USA, like Stanford Electoral Engineering or something where 20 years ago, the department has probably even looked at the demographic state, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's even more so, was on the order of 35, 40% Chinese, 35, 40% Indian and the rest other groups, right? Those are almost like the two wings of the airplane from the grad students are propping it up. And so if you knock out one of those wings, if you knock out the Chinese tech talent wing on something, India will have to surge to be the other part of it. So whereas the Chinese diaspora is receding, the Indian diaspora is accelerating, okay? So plus India's general influence on the world stage is increasing, so India should be able to negotiate visa deals with many countries. You know, obviously Dr. Jay Shankar is very on top, a very smart guy, but basically any country that asks them in India, you should say, "Okay, let's get a million visas a year," or whatever reasonable number there is. Every country is scared of having, "Oh my God, if we have totally open transit, we're going to have a billion Indians coming in." But some very fast track e-visa kind of thing so you can do business facilitates business travel back and forth, and that's the thing that's a huge pain, right? You just want to be able to go very quickly and go to a conference, go to something without a hassle, right? So what I think is going to happen is those countries will say yes to this with the passport ask, the visa ask. That's an ask by the way that lots of tech CEOs in the US are supportive of, lots of people on the left and the right in India.
The Indian Diaspore Outside India (01:10:46)
That's something that you can get a big coalition behind is just better travel for Indians. So the Indian diaspora expands to fill the space the Chinese diaspora is receding to film. And the thing is that if China plays perhaps the world's best home game, India plays perhaps the world's best away game. Wow. Wow. Okay. Okay? So China has built all this ridiculous infrastructure and so on at home. Their cities are amazing, the glow, all this stuff. India has exported all these tech CEOs and presidents and prime ministers and venture capitalists are heads of billion dollar funds. All the guys like my parents' generation, they spoke with an accent, right? But they planted seeds and now the 30 and 40 somethings like myself, I'm just like one tiny version of this, but there's a lot of folks who are my peers who are just entering the power corridor of our careers and we speak without an accent, right? And we're leveling up in the world at large, right? So in a sense, there's about 7 million Indians that emigrated and 7, 8 million depending on your look and the US, UK, Australia, Canada, they did very well abroad. Okay?
Diaspora Vs. Indian Diaspora Aborod (01:12:00)
And then we're like the advanced scouts, okay? All of this Indian diaspora. That's why I said India is like 10X Israel because Israel started with the diaspora and then got the state. India starts with the state and now is building the diaspora. I've never podcasted with a guest where I've thought to myself that, "Hmm, I'd love to work for this guy." So I have so much to say right now and only because of a time constraint I'm holding back. I've had so much to say in this whole episode, but I've been blown away by everything you've brought to this, which is why I've just shut up through this conversation. But I appreciate you. And something tells me this is not the last time we're meeting in life. So either podcast with me more or hire me and I will see you very, very soon. Let's do some stuff together. Great. All right. Good. Great. Thanks. Thank you.
Final Thoughts Update (01:12:52)
Thank you. Bye. So this was part one of a very deep, very dense two-part conversation. The second part will be released in three days. I know this is one of those conversations where I didn't speak, but I was totally intentional. I feel with people like this, you just need to extract whatever you can, especially if you have the luxury of sitting in front of a mind like Balaji Srinivasan. Also, it was the first time that a lot of our regular TRS listeners would be introduced to this man's mind Balaji Srinivasan is going to return on TRS in a few months time, but for now anticipate the even more loaded second part of this two-part conversation.