The Rising Star Of The 21st Century Is…

India. Why India?

First, the population is massive and growing. It will overtake China as the #1 most populous nation within this century.

Second, it is a common law country. This was the greatest gift bestowed on them by English colonial rule. Common law is far better for individual liberty and cooperative society, as opposed to administrative law.

Why is common law, a western Christian tradition, so vital? Because it places importance on self-ownership of the individual. This is most exemplified by habeas corpus: the right to a fair trial. Under common law, the State traditionally cannot strip you of your rights without dragging you before a judge and jury of your peers, a process which the State is not guaranteed to win.

In other words, individuals are regarded as legally separate entities from the dominion of the State, and the jury is judicially sovereign. No other facet of government has this power. What the jury says, goes. In the USA, not even the President can countermand a verdict. He can pardon a crime, but this does not overturn the verdict of the jury.

Third, many Indians speak English as a second language, even in rural villages. This means they are privy to worldwide education and commerce should they become connected to the world at large. The advancement of cell phones and internet technology will connect them. When young Indians living in the slums, jungles, and mountains gain access to inexpensive internet and smartphones, we are going to witness the unlocking of an enormous amount of untapped potential.

Fourth, there is a healthy tradition of distrust against the government in India. Many Indians do not trust their corrupt government officials, which is a wise choice. This is why the rate of gold ownership is so high in India; citizens understand that a gold coin in the hand means far more than a slip of the highly regulated and manipulated Rupee. This is also why many Indians shun bank accounts and deal exclusively in unrecorded cash-only transactions. They are avoiding taxes and corrupt government officials trying to get a piece of the action. Digital money is easily traced; cash is not.

That distrust just got a lot worse when Prime Minister Modi, supreme economic idiot of the Indian subcontinent, banned large-denomination cash bills. He did this for the precise reasons mentioned above: too many Indians were circumventing the system by rejecting digital banking for sitting on cash hoards. So Modi took revenge by legally banning the most common large bills held by Indian savers. This has rendered the savings of hundreds of millions of Indians totally worthless unless they go to a government-approved bank and exchange the notes for small bills – at which time the transaction is recorded, allowing the authorities to track these people down and demand taxes. This is full blown economic war by Minister Modi against his own people, and an utter betrayal of their interests.

But the point is that Indians aren’t fooled. They understand what is really going on, and they resent it. This is a healthy thing.

The ingredients are there for India to experience a great deal of development and economic growth over the course of the next 100 years.

But there are still major hurdles in the way. As it stands, India is a third-world country of extreme poverty. So they are starting from absolute zero. It’ll be a long and hard climb upward, with no guarantee against major glitches in the process – say, a civil war or other huge catastrophe that sets back development.

Also, there is the caste system. India is still dominated by Hinduism, which is an extraordinarily complex religion that comprehensively defines interaction at nearly all levels of society. The entire social order of the country is based on caste and Hindu social norms, which restricts interaction and the internal division of labor. Furthermore, the Hindu view of time is cyclical. This is not conducive to future-orientation and productivity. When held by the masses on a large scale, it shows.

These things will transform, but it will be a slow process.

CHINA VS. INDIA

There are some who would claim that China is the nation of the future. I strongly disagree. I have discussed this here, and here.

China and India share similarities. Both have massive populations, the majority of which live in poverty. English is widely spoken as a 2nd language in both countries. Both nations tend to exhibit strong traditional work ethic. Both are extremely bureaucratic, which is a detriment.

However, the key argument for India over China hearkens back to what I mentioned earlier: Common Law vs. Administrative Law. This sets the foundation for what bureaucrats are and are not allowed to do.

India has massive and wasteful government bureaucracies. But it is a Common Law country, meaning that citizens have a measure of protection and recourse in the court system. Indian bureaucrats are not allowed to simply do anything they want all the time. This was picked up from the British bureaucracy which ran the country pre-1947, and was the best thing the Indians picked up from British colonial rule.

In fact, this very principle was why Britain could not retain control of the country. When Ghandi began leading a campaign of non-violent resistance against the British bureaucracy that ran the country at the time, he left their hands mostly tied. They could not do the same thing that a tyrannical dictatorship does and just kill all the protestors and rebels. As long as the Indians were engaged in non-violent and peaceful resistance, it was difficult for the British to respond effectively without breaking their own laws. So, they gave up. It was a good choice. But it worked only because the government was British. Had the Indian colonial government actually been a communist system run from afar by the Soviet Union, it would not have worked. They would have just killed or jailed all the rebels.

And in China, the latter is exactly what happened during the non-violent 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square against the communist government. The rulers sent the army in to crack down, and roughly 1,500 to 2,000 protestors were slaughtered.

This is where China diverges sharply from India. China is officially a communist country. Economically, it’s not really communist anymore. But it is ruled by the communist legal tradition – namely, unlimited state power to jail and kill whoever they want. They retain the legal right to do so. If the Chinese Government wants to get rid of you, they’ll send the secret police to arrest you, throw you before a sham trial, then kill you or jail you forever with no recourse or hope of legally fighting the charges. If you’re lucky, they won’t harvest your organs.

The communists in the Chinese government get what they want – end of story. The nation is ruled by administrative law set by the government, not common law in which juries are judicially sovereign and individuals have legal rights. In China, the government is ultimately in control of everything and plans everything. But this requires enormous manpower, money, and effort. Then when plans fail, everything collapses. This is what happened in the USSR. This is what will happen to China.

CONCLUSION

I do think India will be the rising star of the 21st century relative to it’s starting point. But the USA will still be the best place to live in. We have some of the highest per capita income in the world, one of the world’s lowest individual tax burdens, and a strong tradition of common law and “Live and let live.” This is accompanied by “Let’s make a deal”, which has helped to make Americans rich.

India will experience rapid growth, but it is still unlikely to rival the USA on a per capita basis. As long as Americans remain optimistic and entrepreneurial, this will not change.

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