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India’s Big Ambitions


Gunjan Bagla

In this weeks episode of The Futurists we talk to author Gunjan Bagla, a leading figure in India-US trade relationships and commerce. Bagla argues that while China is seen as a massive threat to the US, India is a natural ally of the west having supported outsourcing over the last 4 decades, and being more aligned on policy. But like China, India has big ambitions and will overtake China as the most populous nation this decade. Will that translate into economic growth or does India need infrastructure investment to level up as a global economic powerhouse?

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this week on the futurists
Indian entrepreneurs have been able to establish a way around the bureaucracy and they know how to move
things fast
[Music] welcome back to yet another episode of
the futurists where we interview the people who are thinking about and designing and Planning and Building the
future the world of the future I'm Rob turcik and I'm with my favorite
person in the world who I spend so much time with Mike seems like that doesn't it yes yeah happy to see you yet again
Brett Welcome Back to the Future thanks have you seen that um someone mocked up
a trailer for Back to the Future four have you seen that no I have not it's like the you know Marty goes missing and
his son is looking for him it's quite interesting anyway sidetracked but yeah
random thought bubble and this week I want to talk about a topic that frankly
should be getting a lot more attention and and rarely does at least in the United States in the weird filter bubble
of American Media where we hear so much about China always and of course these
days yeah and always it's framed as like you know a threat or the opposition or
something I find that very tedious right because that is a very uh narrow way to define our relationship uh globally
and um and so this week I thought it'd be kind of fun for us to have a guest who can talk to us about something
that's often overlooked but really it's a big big big topic it shouldn't be overlooked at all and so our guest this
week is uh is someone who is helping Americans understand better
opportunities in India so let's welcome John welcome to the show it's great to
have you here thank you so much Rob and Brett for having me and gunjan is the
gunjan's the CEO of Amrit Consulting and he's based here in Los Angeles that's
how we've met and that's how I know him um but a big part of what he does is build Bridges between American
organizations and Indian organizations and he knows all about what's happening in India now if you don't mind let me
start with a little bit of a rambling anecdote here because uh for a period of time I lived in Hong Kong
and while I was there um the management of my company was very focused on China this is in the early 1990s so that made
good sense but candidly I was a lot more interested in India and every opportunity I had I
went over to India to visit to spend time to go on vacation I ended up working there and I just loved it I
enjoyed the heck out of it and um I was uh I enjoyed it because at that moment in time India had not yet fully uh
industrialized so there was a lot of the traditional uh India that was still available to see you could experience it
you know uh when I would travel around in Rajasthan there were plenty of camels on the street and goat carts and
old-fashioned cars and so forth and I know probably for people in India that stuff was a little bit quaint but I mean
maybe not that cool but as a visitor it really struck me as being like really authentically Indian and I was I really
appreciated it I love that country very much and then um just a few years ago right before the pandemic I had the
opportunity to visit Kolkata and of course this first thing you notice when you arrive is this gigantic
Super Highway they're building yeah and that's happening all over India now so what's happened in the ensuing 20 or 30
years is India is starting to emerge as a global economic player and really
rapidly uh in across all Industries is modernizing so I thought I'd start today
with just a couple headlines uh that came to my attention in just the last week because it turns out there's a lot
happening in India and that's really going to be the focus of our show and then we'll turn it over to you gunjan and we'll start to ask you questions
um but you know Goldman Sachs has just announced that they are shifting client money for investment from China towards
India because they see faster growth potential of course we can talk a little bit about what some of the the challenging issues facing China are in
the near future but Today's show is going to be more focused on the opportunities in India but that's a big endorsement uh it's not the only place
the India is building freeways as I mentioned uh they just opened uh the just an open the first segment of a new
eight-lane Expressway that will connect Delhi and Mumbai India's two biggest cities now today that route if you've driven it
I have I drove a part of that it's brutal because quite narrow the roads are old and so forth so a big gigantic
uh kind of American looking super highway is going to be a really big change it'll cut the time of that drive in house just this week another major
announcement India's uh India airlines uh Air India has just acquired
470 new aircrafts and they did deals with both Airbus and with Boeing and it
was smart because they're trying to make a signal very strong signal to the Europeans and to uh into the United
States that India wants to remain engaged with those countries uh that it's going to be a big buyer of
technology and equipment from those places and that's important because there have been some questions in the past year about India's commitment to
the west or relationship with the West because India's been studiously neutral in the conflict in the Ukraine and so
some started questioning that so this is a big signal from India and the plan is actually beyond the 400 70 aircraft they
just bought that is a gigantic order the plan is actually to buy 2 000 aircraft
in the next 15 years so India is emerging as a major transportation in
the world that's a huge order uh the United States has a good partnership with India it's not something you hear
about that much but just in the past week the White House and also the prime minister of India made some
announcements about a new initiative which is the initiative on critical and emerging Technologies and that is where
uh Indians and in the United States will start to align but with research development academic Partnerships and so
forth as well as industry now it's all not great news there's also some conflicts and some trouble as there
always is with the Growing Power with the country that's emerging India and Pakistan share a big border those two
countries have had conflict in the past and there's perennial tension between the two countries now there was news
that broke this week about pollution this came in The Economist this week where pollution crosses the Border
particularly in the region called gujarats where uh air pollution is Crossing Borders again pollution doesn't
observe the niceties of national boundaries right it goes anywhere and so it's going to force those two countries
to find a way to collaborate to reduce emissions and then finally just to bring it all the way back around to China
because China always comes up on this show for some reason um there is this tension that's
happening uh up in the roof of the world uh the border between India and China has never really been agreed and this is
an artifact that dates back to the Colonial past so sort of a uh there's been a conflict or I guess a contested
Border in that region forever uh and what China has been doing is is quite is
considered quite aggressive by neighboring countries uh what they call the line of actual control the a-l-a-c
uh the Chinese military has been building roadways there and it's not just in India they're also doing the
same thing in Bhutan I visited Bhutan just a couple years ago and this was a giant issue for them they're very concerned about it because they're
relatively small country and economically they're not quite sure how they can push back as China begins to
take Land by building roadways and asserting control over land that's disputed a border that's then they're
doing the same now in India and that's going to raise the tensions now the difference there is that uh with India
and China it actually did come to a shooting match not too long ago uh where about a I think two dozen Indian
soldiers and several Chinese soldiers were actually killed uh on that border area so that is a real hot uh Zone
um but on the other hand it is necessary for countries to assert their boundaries so you're going to see uh I guess both
countries flexing their muscles in the future anyway that's a little bit of a Roundup of the news from interesting a
lot of stuff happening big player on the global scene and gunjan you just shared with me today uh an interesting chart
that showed that India is steadily rising in terms of uh gross national product or gross domestic product and it
is now displaced the UK and France and I think it's now emerged as the fourth largest or fifth largest economy is that
right yes that's right the the U.S China Japan and Germany are larger but India entered
the top 10 only in 2012. so it's been a steady rise over the last you know 10 or
11 years and it's it's just nothing short of amazing when you look at that
chart and how is that transforming life on the ground in India in Indian cities we're
talking a little bit about infrastructure a minute ago tell me a little bit of class growth yeah yeah what's happening with people in India
how are they experiencing that growth Okay so first let me say that and I'm not the
first to say it but for when you think about India for every truth I could probably say an equal and opposite true
okay so let me let me point out the the positives of what is happening
which is causing this growth it's driven by entrepreneurs it is driven by
management Executives and the greatest transformation I see is not among the
rich Indians where there is transformation it's really among the lower middle class okay people who were
struggling before and now with the power of the smartphone some of them are Uber drivers and they are making much more
money than they did than than they did before okay rural women suddenly when
they are empowered with a phone you know they can talk to their sisters across
other Villages they can talk to a physician and suddenly they discover the
power of birth control and they stop producing babies just because the husband wants more babies or or whatever
so there's a transformation happening at all levels of Indian Society what we
hear about in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes is the transformation at the top level you know the number of
billionaires in India the number of um unicorns and that's true too but yeah
it's a tremendous transformation that's exciting to hear um now how would that affect somebody's life in India so you
know what we often have in our minds unfortunately our images that we get from mass media and when we see images
of India it always feels like you're watching that film koyana squatsi you know there's images of lots of people
hanging off the side of a train or lots of people crowding into a bus um and I don't know if they're just lots
of people yeah that's right I don't know if that's an accurate picture today certainly the large number of people is
um is the infrastructure improving uh roadways being built is India leapfrogging into the 21st century tell
us a bit about that uh yes so the you know India is a crowded country three times the number
of people in the as the U.S on one-third the land mass so the cities are very very crowded and all homes are now
vertical even if you are doing very well you're going to be living like new like Manhattan you'll be on the 30th floor of
a you know of a skyscraper the transformation that is happening is
really enabling people to to be able to get better educated and
education is the key for the upper lower class and the lower middle class to
success okay so there are millions of his you know of instances where somebody
graduates with a college degree and they are making more money than their parents put together the next day okay that's a
tremendous transformation given by knowledge work and also not driven by modern manufacturing facilities that are
being put up in India yeah and and apple just announced that they're going to relocate about a third
of their production of their devices to India so there's a real uh illustration of India's Rising uh industrial
capability right they will employ at least 50 000 people not directly they are through Apple's contractors but in
Bangalore and Chennai they are setting up they have already set up these massive factories and I've heard that in
Bangalore that there's it's it's actually beginning to resemble an American Suburban development and some
places you know where successful entrepreneurs are now buying land and and building kind of suburban
communities is that accurate or is that overstated yeah so Bangalore is still a very crowded City yeah but the the very
successful in Bangalore can buy property inside these little Islands if you will and my
one of my employees lives in a place called Palm Meadows in uh you know uh
just outside of oh it used to be outside Bangalore now it's in the center of the city because the city has grown so much
and once you enter uh Palm Meadows you feel like you know you might be in in
Yorba Linda or you know a local I mean we have sloping roofs although they
don't need them you know it doesn't snow but the builders thought that by giving
a appearance of Southern California that they'll get better real estate values I chuckled there's also a place called
Malibu Meadows or something like that how funny yes they resonate they're replicating
Southern California there is it true that a lot of the Indian entrepreneurs who came to the United States to work in
technology companies in the 1990s and 2000s many of them are going back to India now to run businesses there is
that accurate I've heard that I don't know if that's true yes there's there's a significant number
of you know of of Indians who came to the US and have returned some of them are engineers and scientists some of
them are Physicians India's largest corporate Hospital chain is owned by a physician who was started by a physician
who worked in the U.S for 20 years and then returned his daughter has now run the company it's called Apollo hospitals
absolutely yeah I think sometimes people fail to understand as well that here in
the United States a number of the leading technology companies are led by people who were born in India including
Google and Microsoft two of the biggest technology companies on the planet uh so there there is this tighter integration
between the two countries between the United States and India than many people might realize because it doesn't always
happen and and yet there's still consistent pressure on the hull H-1B
visa system which is the major um thing and if you're on a H-1B the path to um you know a green card is is
challenging you know um and as we saw during the Trump Administration
um you know there was an attack on H-1B visas and you know so so uh I mean the
US is dependent on these technology workers for sure that you know we we
have what is it 330 000 I think H1B Visa holders in the states so it's a very
small number comparative to the value that Silicon Valley brings us to the US but this you know um we don't train
homegrown uh you know coders and programmers at the rates we need to fill the jobs in in the US so we need to
import them I I still don't understand why it's so hard to um
support immigration from India particularly for technology workers in the US but
yeah here it is right yeah it's uh the number the percentage of immigrants who are entrepreneurs in the United States
is overwhelming it's a it's a gigantic percentage close to half of half of the people who immigrate here start a
business or have a side hustle uh so that's great entrepreneurial energy gunjan tell me a little bit more about
entrepreneurialism in India because that's a new thing I remember when I first visited India in 1991 uh at that
time it was very difficult to start a business it was a lot of red tape there was a lot of bureaucracy there was a lot
of government involved and that prevented small companies from getting going or scaling up has that changed
that has changed dramatically in fact the change started that very year in July 1991 India's gold reserves were
down to the level where they actually had to to borrow a tremendous amount of money and ship a whole plane load of
gold to the bank of London as as a collateral and that crisis caused the
Indian government to restructure within a period of three weeks it was it was
dramatic it was led by Dr Manmohan Singh who was a Oxford trained Economist and
by by chidambaram the his his colleague who's a Harvard MBA so the U.S had some
influence on that change that that liberalization has continued through multiple governments and today it is
it is much easier to build and scale a business than it was it doesn't mean it
is easy it is easier than it used to be okay but Indian entrepreneurs have been
able to establish a way around the bureaucracy and they know how to move things fast and that is why for example
if you and I are consuming any generic pharmaceutical medications I take one
for diabetes for example and It's Made in India okay that's right yeah yeah
are from India today that's most the antibiotics that we take are coming from
India that's true that's true and um now how about Capital funding you know here
in the United States we enjoy ready access to uh to venture funding there's a huge amount records amount of it
available not this year unfortunately because we're University you know it's everyone's step back a little bit from
that but there's still plenty of Adventure Capital available although it's regional right so it's typically going to be located in cities near tech
centers is that how it works in India too is there now a venture capital scene in India yeah so
um beyond the family and friends kind of funding uh India now has a vibrant
system of angels which is still a little immature compared to the US there are many American Venture Capital funds who
are present in India Axel Kleiner Sequoia all of them are there and now there are Indian Venture Capital funds
as well okay the public markets in India are also strong the Bombay Stock Exchange started in the 1800s you know
so it's it's a long history and then they set up another fully electronic exchange called the National Stock
Exchange so there's plenty of equity Capital available historically debt
Capital has been harder to obtain in India so even you know even the Reliance group one of the largest
companies in India the largest group really they often come to New York to raise their debt they're dead yeah yeah
interesting and um I'm trying to think of like yeah the the liquidity is I
guess the term I'm thinking of you know the path to an exit is is there um you
know here in the United States if you start a business let's say you're going to go into like you know Health Tech or biotech yeah
um there's a number of big organizations that you can hope to exit to uh so you can do a trade sale as opposed to trying
to take the company public does that same Dynamic work in India do entrepreneurs start businesses and then
sell them to a large conglomerate so this certainly wasn't the case some
years ago in fact as recently as I would say six or seven years ago uh you know
parents have a huge influence on young people and young you know young adults coming out with college degrees wanted
to go work for an IBM or a Tata or an Intel today it's the exact opposite okay
if you work for one of those large companies you're considered a fuddy duddy you know having you know getting
into a startup is what is in and that's why there are over a hundred unicorns in India today oh many of them have you
know many of the startups have been able to exit some have gone public some have
been purchased and obviously some have failed as well so those pathways are building up I wouldn't say it's as
robust as you see in the U.S there's another thing that's happening Robin Brett many Indian companies are really
looking at Global markets today right happening with the Israelis for example
right Israelis started would come to the U.S establish a company here and go public in the U.S you'll start seeing
more and more of that in the next five years I promise you yeah that's true and actually Indian people again Americans
might not be aware of it but you mentioned Tata and Tata consulting and Infosys two big Tech Consulting
companies have a huge footprint in the United States uh and that process began
in the in the late 1990s I remember when they first came to the United States and people were quite skeptical
uh I also remember very clearly in the early 2000s working for a technology company and I suggested to the CEO that
we consider Outsourcing development in India and he laughed and he said we're never going to send our code over to
India but today that's quite common right these are things that we rely on every single day many many companies uh
in the United States so they I guess the integration is is invisible but it's really uh more tightly integrated than
people tend to realize and part of that is because China steals so much of the Thunder China is always Forefront in the
United States and not always viewed in an easy way or in a friendly way more viewed as a potential adversary or a
real adversary um well I think we could go into that in great amount of detail but maybe what we
should do before we do that uh is let's do our quick fire round of questions because we want to get to know you a
little bit better this is a way for our audience to understand who they're listening to and so um Brett is always
my my co-host here who loves to ask these questions of our guests so uh gun John get ready because here comes just
just before before we jump into the quick fire and I will tell you one of you know um I did I've visited and
spoken at the um Infosys campus at Mysore oh and
that's a lovely campus yeah just just incredible actually if if that could be
applied to infrastructure development more broadly in India well just imagine right so incredible campus but let's get
get to the quick fire round what was the first science fiction you
remember being exposed to on TV or media so there was a American book Corner that
opened at the public library in kanpur where I grew up and one of the books I was fascinated by was called Opus 100
you know because it's also we had written 100 books and if of course it was Isaac Asimov ah
yes he opened my eyes to number theory he opened my eyes to astronomy he opened my eyes to science fiction and I was
just entranced and transformed as to how one individual could do all of that
no he he had an incredible uh gift for forecasting and thinking about the
future for sure what technology do you think is most changed Humanity
if I look at it from the perspective of India it is the Smart form more than anything else the smartphone has
revolutionized the way Commerce is conducted the computer to the average Indian is
the smartphone they went from nothing to a smartphone they didn't go through PCS
and laptops and tablets okay so yes I think this is what a lot of Americans don't understand if you look at China
you look at India you look at Africa and Asia you know more broadly now the the e-commerce Revolution is actually
happening through smartphones you know all of the new startups and businesses that you know we didn't see see that
happen during the.com in in these uh economies but we're seeing it now with
the smartphone um can you think um you know what is what is the best prediction an
entrepreneur or a futurist or a science fiction writer has has made do you think
in the past so what but I I I'm a mechanical
engineer and I was fascinated by robotics particularly when when I read as it moves books about about Robotics
and today it is a reality you know not only in factories but now you're seeing robots in other applications uh I I
think robots will continue to improve the the lives of humans everywhere
yeah just even the three laws of robotics we're still dividing that that's a that's a good one and finally
um is there a science fiction story or a you know a forecast of the future that
represents the future you hope for that's hard for me to say
fair enough yeah some of these questions are a bit more abstract but that's fine thanks gunjan I appreciate uh your
answer those questions let's take a quick break and after the break uh let's dive into a little bit more of the
trajectory of where the economy in India is going and and where is it going to add value to the global ecosystem moving
forward you're listening to the futurists we'll be right back after this break
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welcome back to the futurists with uh your hosts Brett King and Rob tersek we
are speaking with gunjan bagla um he is an advocate for Indian Commerce
and business uh overseas sort of basically tying creating a bridge economically then conceptually between
the U.S and India the gungeon um you know in terms of economic policy in
terms of the sort of the political landscape um you know what is what has changed
over the the last couple of decades you know particularly with Modi coming in and some of the changes he's made um you
know I I'm a big fan of the a dark heart the identity program um that has created incredible changes
in financial inclusion for example in India but from an infrastructure perspective
um you know what has led to the acceleration in India's community and
the Improvement in the economy in recent years yeah so the day that Narendra Modi was
elected I was in India in the Wall Street Journal called me for a short interview and the line they put on the
front page was India is a big ship it will take time to to change course well
that ship has changed course faster than I predicted one reason really is that Narendra Modi
was the first Chief Minister which is like a U.S Governor the first Chief Minister of a state to become Prime
Minister the states is where the action happens and Modi had transformed the state of Gujarat economically okay this
is the first state that will become a first world kind of location and it was an economic Powerhouse industrial
Powerhouse when he was uh when he was leading it exactly so he brought that kind of business oriented thinking in
the very first week when he took power he asked each Ministry to make like a
five or seven slide presentation which was unheard of in India they you know they would make a 45 slide present
Temptation and take three months to do it and the presentation would say nothing at the end of it so he he
conveyed that business oriented attitude and his immediate cabinet is completely free
of any corruption or nepotism which is the first time I think in India's history that that has happened
so those those factors led to confidence that Indian Executives and business
people had to be able to invest and to grow so you've seen that result his minister
of Rhodes is you know has actually made the specific claim that our roads will be as good as American highways all over
the country in the next two or three years and they're delivering on that you know they're living on that yeah and that was
the Striking thing in Kolkata was the gigantic flyovers the overpasses that they were building they were under
construction at the time but you could see the ambition there was to take a Victorian City a Victorian era City and
turn it in you know supersize it and turn it into a gigantic City that extends into the neighboring regions
which are mostly agricultural now so that's a Grand Vision um and and Modi has been in office as
prime minister now since I think 2014 right so almost 14 yes yeah he's just recently elected you guys just recently
re-elected right for a second term four years ago I mean yeah four years ago it's a five-year term so next year they
will have general elections again oh I see and can he can he do another term or is he yeah there's no term limits in
India okay yeah and and this comes in great contrast to uh the the preceding
leadership the in India you know India for the longest time was dominated by the congress party and uh and they had a
certain vision of how the the the country should operate um you know to its credit it was a it
was viewed as a very Multicultural uh vision and and the idea was that India
would be a secular democracy a lot of Americans don't realize that India is the largest functioning democracy in the
world uh another reason why the United States should cultivate a good relationship with India yeah
um but Modi is party modi's party is different um so one of the problems that Congress had I think is there's a lot of
nepotism you have like literally almost like a dynastic control from uh narrow's family on down through the gandhis even
to this day uh and they run lackluster campaigns but they haven't been especially responsive to these Trends uh
particularly the globalization Trends whereas I think BJP has been more responsive is that is that an accurate
way to frame it I don't know enough about Indian politics to make that comment yeah so to be fair the 1991
liberalization happened during Congress rule uh-huh so uh we you know we can't
fault come the congress party for all of India's problems and in the early days of India's independence nehru took the
stance of building out the steel mills building out the Indian Institutes of
Technology of which I'm a fortunate graduate so they some long-term things were done very well in nehru's first
couple of terms but the BJP is the business person's party if you will and
they they understand I think how to enable businesses to grow
uh so uh and the other factor is really that entrepreneurs and managers have
felt empowered over the last 25 years so regardless of who wins the next election I don't think India's growth is going to
stop yes now is there a distinction that Americans might recognize the way we have you know uh Democrats which are
viewed as kind of the party of formerly party of labor now the party of big government I guess and then uh you know
the the the Republicans here which is our conservative party which is more of a business focused party I'm not sure
those distinctions hold up so well anymore post Donald Trump but nevertheless that's kind of historically the way that splits in the U.S how does
it work in India how is that is that is there like a left and right um to these different parties so first
of all India has a multi multitude of political parties most of the other parties are regionals so the state of
Tamil Nadu is controlled by the DMK and the admk the Communist party still has a strong role in the state of Kerala it
has the highest literacy in the country okay so that all of these Regional parties the congress party you know
unfortunately has been decimated over the last you know last several years so they are much less powerful today than
they were in the old days Congress got the congress party got its power by
uniting a bunch of minorities you know both religious minorities as well as the
marginalized Hindus and putting them together the BJP has taken a different approach
you know where they they they they're really allying with the mainstream Hindus if you will so that's the
difference that you see that's a subject of some controversy right because uh uh recently people have
made the claim that the BJP stands for Hindu nationalism um maybe historically preceding the
formation of the BJP party uh in an earlier party might have been more closely identified with that movement
um but that there there's uh some concern about persecuting uh Muslim minorities uh or a rise of you know kind
of a um a Hindu majority uh dominating which is different from nara's original vision of India as a secular society uh
and and recently this all came to a head because the BBC uh released the documentary it's very critical of Modi
but critics of the BBC have said that this is a very colonialist perspective it's outdated information and in fact
there was an investigation of these very same allegations in India that cleared Modi of any wrongdoing can you comment a
little bit about that for people who might not be familiar with that controversy sure so this relates to incidents that
happened back in the early 2000s and it was you know Front Page News at that
time the U.S government in fact had denied a visa to Narendra Modi uh you
know uh following those incidents but when the 2014 elections were coming
about President Obama's you know clearly said that if Narendra Modi becomes prime
minister of course he's welcome to the U.S the
I think it's inappropriate for Western Media or to always use the word Hindu
fundamentalists to describe the BJP and Narendra Modi that conveys a sense that
you know there's a degree of almost fascism in India and that's really not the case certainly they are closely
Allied you know with with the RSS for example which is uh you know the one of
the Affiliates of the BJP there is that thread but I think it's it's too
simplistic a description of a complex and textured country like India to be
able to apply that label universally when you see India mentioned in the New York Times or the LA Times they'll
describe the BJP as the Hindu fundamentalist party everyone's grappling for an analogy it's an easier
way to classify yeah you know something if you don't understand it right if you don't understand the nuances people want
to understand if Modi is like you know the the um if he's like erdogan in in um in in
turkey or Putin in Russia perhaps on a more extreme level uh is that the case
or is that just I don't think that's fair yeah yeah so Modi is definitely action
oriented and some of that I think looks to people who
criticize him within India as well as people from the outside that uh he may
he may not be following the rule of law in certain cases okay so I think it's a
fair concern but it really isn't the primary prism through which people
should look at India in my view I I think the what is happening to the
minorities in India is a significant concern and that has to change I believe it will change after the next elections
already last week Narendra Modi reached out to a Muslim minority called the
Borah Muslims you know they're persecuted their Muslims were persecuted in Pakistan you know they live on the
border between Pakistan and India and uh there was some definite action on the
part of Narendra Modi to reach out to that Community Muslims make an important part of
India's says the most of the Bollywood Stars you know people like Shahrukh Khan who was in a big movie just two weeks
ago called he's Muslim uh company called cipla which is one of the
largest pharmaceutical companies in India is run by a Muslim you mentioned I.T Services Wipro is a company run by
us exactly who's a Borah Muslim yeah oh good thank you for that correction because honestly here we get
uh I think we get kind of a distorted lens uh uh through our news partly because they're trying to oversimplify
these narratives that are so complex and given India's many different political parties and the vigorous democracy there
you know people forget how vigorous the campaigning can be in India if you haven't persisted seen it or seen it
firsthand uh then sometimes that narrative becomes too simple and and then we're always just trying to
classify people or put them into a simple category well let's talk about the implications for the future so you
have uh you have a vigorous leader strong leader um you have great economic growth you
have now you know increasingly educated uh and increasing optimistic Workforce
yeah what is the next 10 years of India's growth look like is India going to displace China is India stepping up
and finally Well India India is already surpassed China and population terms that's the well it's going to happen
imminently um you know because China's birth rates are amongst the lowest in the world now thanks to the one child policy
um and so India will become the most populous country in the world but then when does it become
you know does it ever become the world's largest economy that's a really good question
I think it'll be a long while before India's economy becomes comparable to the United States okay however in 10 to
15 years uh India's economy will be close to surpassing Japan in Germany
whether it happens in 10 years or 20 years I can't say but definitely it's going to happen Japan's population is
declining and Germany is stable yeah so you're going to see that happen there's another Factor we have those are the
third and fourth largest economies in the world right now so that is no small statement what you just said right
there's another aspect we haven't touched on at all which is the Strategic or you know defense alignment between
the United States and India yes if there is ever a conflict between
you know between China and the U.S if China ever invades Taiwan for example okay and I hope that never happens but
the state department and the Department of Defense are preparing for those those possibilities the best Ally that the
United States can have in that area is India and there are many strategic
reasons for it if you look at Singapore and the Straits of Malacca where 30
percent of World Trade goes through a 17 Mile straight you know what people don't realize is that the Andaman and nicobar
islands in the Bay of Bengal which are owned by India are right next to that point
so a military presence of India is there I can visualize
in the next 10 or 15 years that India may consider the possibility of a joint
base with with the United States at that point you know at that point yeah but
yes a strong chance in the future that the us is going to try and reduce China's economic
um success by by doing blockades using the military particularly in the South China Sea that's I think a fairly strong
possibility geopolitically it gets sort of interesting but yeah if there's a if there's a shooting war that would be the
US's approach we would cut off the trade routes with the Navy as opposed to trying to block but even even when China
you know we've had this debate on the show like when China surpasses the us as the world's largest economy the us is
going to treat this with disbelief and you know if they don't have the economic levels to impact China's you know trade
and if China is you know ramping up trade globally then the US may find an
excuse to um use military intervention because it's biggest you know stick that they
have right right wow that's a pretty extreme scenario um but you know I think what the United
States has learned in the in Vietnam and and in the Korean War and hopefully relearned more recently is that it's
extremely difficult even for the world's biggest superpower to project Force halfway around the world it's just
extremely difficult to sustain it and maintain it and run a country by remote control we haven't been particularly
successful at it uh and and to maintain Global Security we need Partners uh it
works far better for the United States when we work in Partnership and what I'm hearing you say gun John is that there's a great opportunity for the United
States to develop a better partnership with India and I think it's a necessity Rob
um there are two forms in which it is happening today you might have heard of the Quad the quad is yes I have heard of
the question tell me about the quad yeah Japan Australia India and the United States getting together
for what they call a free and open indo-pacific and the word Indo is
significant in that I had not heard the term indo-pacific until about 10 years ago yeah I think it
was invented by the state department to replace Asia Pacific and it's really to make a specific point to China that we
are talking about India as being included and you know the indo-pacific ends at the Western borders of India
okay yeah that makes sense so the quad is like the four points on the on the compass there east west north and south
uh to Define that indo-pacific region it is true we talk about southeast Asia we talk about non-china Asia or ex-china
Asia we talk about the South Pacific we talk about these regions a lot but we don't use that term indo-pacific often
but it's a nice idea to include India it's kind of like the Western bound on that um in that room I get even
frustrated that um you know people in the states identify people from India as Asian
right because I think that's too simplistic uh classification and you
know um but you know I mean that's just me but let's get big picture then John sure no let's get take us out 30 years
what's India going to be like 30 years from now India will be a
developed country it won't look much like the United States I don't think because
you know the size of the country is different but in terms of economic power and scale
people even in the lower middle class will have the resources to travel internationally people in the poorest
echelons of Indian Society will live a comfortable life the the life expectancy will go up the
population growth will be stable so India's population will no longer be growing and the U.S and India will be
the close to closest I don't want to use the term Ally because that implies a
defense related thing but in terms of trading patterns trade and
um people-to-people connections you know and one other thing that enables that by
the way is the Boeing 787 okay I don't know if you've flown to India uh on on
the 787 it's a completely different experience when you go on such a long flight and the airplane is humidified
and it you know it's a pressurized at a lower altitude level you arrive in India
and you can work the same day which I could never do until the 787. okay now the so when when instead of flying
through Dubai or or London you can have non-stop flights between the two countries then being halfway around the
world is not such a hassle anymore it's no further than Japan or Singapore or or Australia from Los Angeles uh what about
in terms of Industry specifically where the investment's going obviously you
know there's been a lot of Outsourcing of things like um you know call center operations and so forth but you know
that that's been going to be replaced by artificial intelligence clearly so where do you see the
um you know industrial advantages that India has so in India is already a manufacturing
Powerhouse most of what is manufactured in India is consumed by India but in 30
years India will be as viable as China or even more viable to be able to
produce a vast range of goods okay I'm already seeing those Trends happening today in chemicals India is very strong
yeah in Pharmaceuticals we've already talked about it in engineering Goods if you if you go to AutoZone to or Pep Boys
to get your radiator or battery or you know uh alternator replaced there's a
very high chance that the product was made in India the largest metal forging company in the world is actually Bharat
Forge located in Pune in Western India we are already seeing that kind of scale
so you will see India becoming much more familiar to
Americans than it is today and the other area we haven't talked about
is the entertainment industry right right now Hollywood its own thing Bollywood it is its own thing by the way
more people watch Bollywood movies than they watch Hollywood movies okay it's just that those movies are cheap and
they're seen all over Africa and Asia and Russia and China
yeah yeah yeah yeah that's an example that's always like the first Telltale sign is when when the film breaks on on
Netflix you know you know that that nation is starting to step up to the global stage when it comes to Entertainment export next we'll get a
boy band or some sort of like girl pop band from from Bombay
absolutely they haven't looked towards the West because the market they have is so large yeah movies like RR they were I
think they specifically planned to have something in there to appeal to the west and it won a Golden Globe for the song
and now it's nominated for an Oscar it's true oh and that's yeah films like Slumdog Millionaire do breakouts right
and that's not a new film at all so that just shows you that quietly once again it's another place where India's been
overlooked it's present it's growing uh but when you travel in Africa and in the Middle East and in Central Asia Indian
culture is very popular right so there's a giant export territory there hey good John tell me a little bit about India's
neighbors uh because India you know um it's a it's a growing economy but on
the global stage you point out there's room for growth but in its immediate area in South Asia India is dominant
it's a gigantic Colossus there south of China so is the relationship with neighboring countries uneasy tents is
there uh are there Partnerships do you see that as an area for conflict or in our area for partnership and growth in
the future and so India has the unfortunate situation of two large hostile countries
on its northern borders Pakistan on one side and China on the other however uh
India's other neighbors are very friendly with with the country Bhutan
you mentioned Nepal Sri Lanka Bangladesh they are all very friendly and India
created or helped create this entity called Sark the South Asian Regional
cooperation Council Afghanistan is also part of it okay the the all of those
countries have considerable trade and understanding between them the people of Pakistan are the same as
the people of India when I meet a Pakistani American here we can talk about everything in the same manner it's
not it's like Aussies in new zealanders you know we we hang it on each other when we're back there but when we're
offshore we're like neighbors yeah yeah yeah absolutely um
so when Modi was elected prime minister one interesting thing that he did is he
invited the heads of all of those countries to his you know the equivalent of his inauguration
and even the prime minister of Pakistan came to that event okay okay and he was
really you know extending an olive branch yeah I'd like to be friendly with
all of you war and hostility doesn't help us the challenge in Pakistan specifically
is that the country is run by the generals the demo so-called democracy in Pakistan is maintained primarily for the
convenience of the United States to be very blunt all the power rests with the generals they can replace the Prime
Minister anytime as you've seen happen in you know successively over the last many years uh and and that's why that
country is unstable so if I look at the India of 30 years from now I hope that
Pakistan would not have become a fair State and somehow if there is some peace there both countries will benefit
the people of Pakistan are suffering because of this
neighboring economies as well otherwise that creates uh risk uh geosp strategic
risk for India yeah so one thing India has always done is whenever there's a disaster in any of one of these
countries they will send it immediately that's right you saw that with turkey two weeks ago yeah that's exactly right
India sent seven c-17s Boeing 70s made in Long Beach California weather okay
they sent 7c 70s full of you know goods and Personnel to help with turkey even
though turkey has been very critical of India in the past and they've cited with Pakistan okay so when there are floods
in Pakistan or earthquakes India sends Aid you know no questions asked yeah wow
you know given given what they had last year it was a real Challenge and that leads us to the final question for today
um it which is what's the climate response plan that's emerging in India
because particularly in southern India like Bangladesh we are going to have
major flooding problems where the climate is going to have a impact on a
very large population of people sure so the recognition that climate change
is real you know is widespread within the Indian leadership the political leadership India has committed to the goals of the
Paris climate Accord and it's a real tough thing for India to do yeah because
most of the energy is produced by either coal or imported oil okay when Modi came
to power one of the things he did he looked at they looked at the solar energy goals of the previous government
and essentially more than doubled them okay they were projecting some 20 gigawatts by 2020 and the country has
blown through those they're going to be at 100 gigawatts or something very soon okay they're building the world's
largest solar Farms now larger than the ones in any other country in the states of Rajasthan Gujarat where there's
plenty of land and such it's fantastic yeah yeah so India is also making a
commitment now to nuclear which the Modi government have pretty much left alone for the last nine years and now they're
re invigorating the growth of nuclear energy with heavy water plants Inland
and light water plants on the coast the light water plants so far have been built by Russia but there is there is a
hope for Westinghouse to be able to to build that take their technology to
India and I think China has some 30 Westinghouse plants now uh but India
doesn't have any yet uh quite an interesting thing the the future of energy is a whole other topic
for us today well gunjan thank you very kindly for joining us this week on the futurist it's always a pleasure to see
you and speak to you uh I've enjoyed your insights on uh on Asia in general you shared so many interesting things
with me so thank you for that this show is great because you disabused us of some Notions that we have some popular
Notions maybe press Notions media Notions that we have uh maybe sometimes the reality of India escapes our notice
so you were able to correct some of that I hope that was helpful for our audience thank you very much for joining us on
the show today thank you Brad thank you rob how can people find you or attract you or hear about your thoughts what's
the best way for them to follow you so I'm on LinkedIn and I'm the only gunjan bagla in the world so I'm easy to
find there my website is at amrit.com and lately I even have a tick tock
account at India expert there you go indie or expert that's a good uh that's a good handle man well done right on
well thank you for joining us on the futurists and thank you bretts and thanks to the team at provoke media our
engineer Kevin Herson and our producer Elizabeth Severance thank you all very much for supporting us show and thanks
to our listeners uh you're really the reason we do this we've been getting such positive feedback recently from
people who listened to the show uh recently got a couple really positive shout outs on social media on LinkedIn
in particular that was really gratifying we put a lot of effort into making the show and finding good guests yeah we
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appreciate that now if you uh are liking the show and you want to help other people find it the best way to do that of course is to give us a five-star
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been good and we're really thrilled about that and we are grateful to our audience of listeners for doing that
so um we will be back next week with yet another person who is inventing and designing and building and promoting the
vision of their future and until then Brett will we see you again
in the future one day we'll get that right
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