Some simple analytics of Indian growth, economic and cultural

I think of India as, throughout much of its history, as having a surfeit of human talent but a scarcity of good infrastructure.  Infrastructure serves as a bottleneck for further advances.  Thus, many of India’s most significant advances are densely packed with talent, but capital goods are relatively scarce.  For instance:

1. Indian classical music is super-high G-loaded, but the instruments are relatively inexpensive, compared say to a symphony orchestra.

2. Indian mathematics and computational advance, such as we find in say Ramanujan and the broader South Indian tradition, is high on mental facility and low on capital goods.

3. Religious contemplation is another Indian specialty, ditto.

4. Indian food has lots of ingredients, but many of them are relatively inexpensive, for instance vegetables, lentils, or native spices.  The combinatorial achievements however are remarkable.

And so on.

As Indian economic growth proceeds, infrastructure will improve dramatically and indeed this process already is underway.  That will enable India to make contributions in a broader range of areas, and for those contributions to spread around the world more readily.

We are in essence entering a world where physical infrastructure and “ingredients” are no longer the binding constraint on Indian cultural development.  In cuisine, this is mirrored by the rise and spread of Indian “fusion” cuisine, including in India itself, and Indian molecular gastronomy.

Indian culture (and exports) will continue to rise in influence.  But many Indians will miss the older approach.  They expect talent-intensive cultural contributions, and have come to love them.  (Do you really want Pandit Kumar Gandharva to be replaced by a collaboration with some guy playing a mellotron?0  The next wave of Indian cultural exports will be less talent-intensive, less cognitively challenging, and to many people they will not feel “entirely Indian.”

Precisely as India succeeds in spreading its influence, its culture will seem just a bit stupider.  This will be reinforced by the likelihood that the global marginal customer is not so cognitively well-equipped to understand the greatest glories of Indian civilization.

Indians wielding capital will become increasingly influential, relative to Indians wielding talent.  Vishny Anand as Indian leader will be replaced by ????.



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