Things I wish Westerners and Americans knew about India and Indians

Kumar Thangudu

December 21, 2017

I went back to India several years ago and went from North to South India on motorcycles, trains, planes, and buses.

  1. India is a viciously resourceful country. The best and brightest Americans and westerners rarely come to India and succeed with flying colors, but the opposite happens in massive high-quantities. In less than 3 decades, Indians became one of the highest performing wealthy groups of people in the USA. Nigerians, Jews, and Indians are neck and neck for performance.
  2. Indians are America’s technological feedstock labor. 1/7 STEM workers in the USA are Indian. The ones who have professionally acclimatized are indentured into servitude in the USA under a document called an H1-B visa, it’s a sort of document that allows indentured servitude and leads to spousal suicides, I imagine many go under-reported.
  3. The British had little to no hand in Improving India and commited violation after violation upon the wealth and GDP of this powerful nation. They killed 3M-6M Indians in a man-made genocidal famine known as the bengal famine of 1943 and our GDP grew by less than 1% during that time. 75%-90%+ of the population was under the poverty line when the British left in 1947. The British antagonized Hindu-Muslim violence. 1/250 Indians had the right to vote under the British. The British only educated servants in English, so the “English language to India” thing is a myth. The Indian taxpayer financed British railways in India with a mechanism coordinated by the Dutch East India Company. They prohibited Indians from building locomotives that were more performant than British ones. (true story) They left India with a ~15% literacy and a ~25 year old life expectancy.
  4. India gained viable independence through access to guns. A territorial empire doesn’t give in to non-violence, the British left at the tip of guns given to India by the Japanese at the end of World War II. The stuff you read about Gandhi does not provide substantive reasoning as to why an empire would leave a country with ridiculous levels of resources. Non-violence doesn’t work in isolation, even Mandela leveraged violence.
  5. Our Language Progresses: We went from 750 languages in 1950 to 250 by around the year 2000. English is India’s primary governmental language.
  6. Western Countries have committed an energy genocide upon India by sanctioning it against Uranium/Plutonium with only a raft of poor quality coal to make up the difference. India has been experiencing an energy genocide, this is the primary reason we are behind. All civilizations need enough electricity to produce nitrogen for farming fertilizer, steel for infrastructure, and to provide refrigerated food shelf life extension. India never achieved it. The average Indian farmer has gone from about ~2 hectares of land ownership down to 1 hectare of land ownership over the last 30 years and coal pollution has gone up. All Indians eat locally and we leverage coal mining. The startup of a coal plant takes significant baseload energy capacity.
  7. No Cold Chain. India doesn’t have a refrigerated supply chain thus all food is “local” or “organic.” (That’s not a good thing)
  8. Americans have 12x+ the energy of an Indian. Indians have 0.8 MWh/capita. Americans have 12.5MWh/capita.
  9. India is Athens, America is Sparta. The IIT entrance exam makes the SAT look like grade school drivel. The Average American would fail in an Indian school. Both on the level of respect to teachers and academically.
  10. Sacred Cows — Context Matters. The notion that we pray to cows is somewhat flawed and an ass-backwards way for understanding why India declared cows sacred. While the British committed genocidal famine on India in the 1940’s, cows’ milk provided sustenance for babies, just prior to India’s independence.[context is king] Furthermore, while India remains in energy poverty, wandering cows slaughtered at will, would yield the death of a farmer’s livelihood. (300M people in India work in Agriculture — 25% of the population).
  11. US STEM infrastructure relies on Indians. If all of the Indians in the USA bounced, the USA would likely be in an untenable spot. Developers aside, Indians make up a significant % of doctors, lab folks, etc… There’s only 2M-3M Indians in the USA but they make up 5% to 10% of the US population’s doctors. If you meet an Indian who is the only Indian in the area they grew up in, it’s reasonable to guess their father or mother is an MD that was shipped in by the US government to practice medicine in medically underserved regions. (pay-risk/malpractice risk/low revenue output)
  12. India has no lack of technical talent, only of electricity. India produces over 1.5M engineers/year. Many of them don’t get to work on engineering. There’s not enough electricity in the country to employ them all in technology. Their talent is blundered or wasted.

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