Why is India so Behind? – The Question I Get From Westerners

Kumar Thangudu

March 05, 2017

I get asked a lot about why India is so behind from white westerners who just visited and want to help the country. This type of question comes up often and it’s worth answering.  I’m more well informed as to the nuances of why/how a country with an overeducated technical class is so far behind than most people. My formal training sits at the intersection of large scale systems, policy, material feedstocks, and my father has essentially been an agronomist for 50 years— so the problem at large shines brightly in front of me. I also traveled 6000 Km through India on motorcycles, trains, planes, etc…. from North to South and visited many pieces of the country’s infrastructure. If anyone tells you that India is behind because of its people or culture, you can simply point to the ridiculously successful diasporas of Indians all over the planet. This is a dumb ethnocentric view that lacks context. The technocrat class of Indians is savage and if you removed Indians from US academic teams, you’d see a decline in winning.  So why? Why are Indians so behind? With so many smart people? Why do brains drain? Why is the country in relative shambles? India and other developing countries are largely behind not because of their culture but because of their ability to generate energy sovereignty and independence. We have not been allowed to develop quick and speedy solutions because of the way western countries block us from acquiring nuclear hardware and uranium. India has 4x the population of the USA and generates 1/3rd the energy with constant blackouts. We have 100M+ people working in agriculture. This is the efficiency price we pay for a non-refrigerated supply chain and being short on fertilizer — the primary efficiency driver in farming. You need electricity to power both of those things. India is outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty due to its weapons programme, and for ~35 years it was excluded from trading Nuclear technologies and materials(uranium). This basically held us back til 2009. “Since 2010, a fundamental incompatibility between India’s civil liability law and international conventions limits foreign technology provision.” – essentially, westerners don’t want us to have Nuclear capabilities. Because of this myriad of complex laws, India’s substitute came in the form of unwieldy Fast Breeder Reactor(FBR) Thorium plants. FBRs work by utilizing unmoderated neutrons to ‘breed’ fissile plutonium and possibly transuranics —- usually Uranium 238…..but I’ve heard its flexible enough to make fissile Uranium 233 too directly from Thorium. Basically, India has had to over-invest in futuristic technologies to use Thorium b/c the west blocks us from using the current vaccine/solution to our problems that we know will work — Uranium.

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