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Google to Invest $10B in India (techcrunch.com)
422 points by jmsflknr 21 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 330 comments

There's been a recent surge in American companies investing in India primarily through Reliance Jio (owned by Mukhesh Ambani who's got a good connect with the current ruling Government). It's been spiking since the Anti-China sentiment led Buy and Use 'Made in India' cries. Government has even asked eCom Flipkart and Amazon to display Country of Origin for each product.

With all these, This investment from Google seems another strategic move by an American company to say that we're truly concerned about Indian growth. So that their development centers here or products made for India don't get flagged as American.

Reference - Foxconn, Intel, Qualcomm, Facebook




> Mukhesh Ambani who's got a good connect with the current ruling Government

To be fair, Mukesh has got good connections everywhere. He is India's most powerful person.

Amitabh and the Shahrukh (some of the world's richest actors, both half billionaires) both volunteered as servers at his daughters wedding as a show of appreciation. If a man can command the most powerful of his country to such level of willful subservience, then every Govt. will try to curry favor with him.

I will add, that while his intentions might be entirely selfish, the pace at which Jio was able to bring affordable 4G to the whole country is incredibly empowering for rural / small town India.

That being said, adding money to the pool of what is quickly becoming a monopoly is not a "fund to digitize America" as Pichai put it.

> volunteered as servers at his daughters wedding as a show of appreciation.

> can command the most powerful of his country to such level of willful subservience

To me there's a disconnect between the two phrases. I don't think they were volunteering to humiliate themselves, but rather to show how close they were. Let's say hypothetically that Bill Gates had become really good pal with Jeff Bezos and that you went to an event that one of the two had organized and you saw the other serving the punch, would you say that he's being subservient?

> volunteered as servers at his daughters wedding ... subservience

I don't know about you, but when I hear "working as a server at a wedding attended by many powerful people", I don't think "subservience", I think "unique opportunity to make connections, and to potentially snoop insider information."

I am not sure you comprehend the fame and reach of the actors mentioned. They don’t need connections, they are super famous in their own right.

Also note, Amitabh is in his late seventies. I doubt he is interested in connections at his age.

You must not know of Amitabh and the Shahrukh -- they're not some smalltime actors that need to get a leg up. This would be like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt offering to be servers at Jeff Bezos' daughters wedding. It's absurdly subservient.

Do not ignore cultural differences. If you see such an activity as a job, then you would arrive at a conclusion like yours.

In India, it's common for hosts to serve food as a sign of respect to their guests. Close friends and family of hosts also join. This only showed the closeness of the relationships among Mukesh and other stars. Seeing it as a subservient act isn't accurate, no big star would sign up if it were so.

To give another example, often times, the servers for these weddings aren't people you pay but rather your close friends and family.

This is correct. I'm not Indian but my wife is and I've observed it many times as an insider "outsider".

Subservient isn't the right word I think. A lot of rich and famous attended the Ambani wedding events – Clinton, Huffington etc and a lot of celebrities from world over.

Beyonce did a show too. So did a lot of Bollywood celebrities. These celebrities do paid gigs at these ultra rich wedding parties.


Attending an event as a guest is very, very different than attending an event as a server...

Serving in many Indian weddings can be done by friends and family. It's like showing that you're very close to the family.

Not too long ago, it used to be that family and friends would get together to cook for the wedding.

Not really, people whose status is beyond question can do stuff like this just because they feel like it. I attended a high school play at a fancy private school in Texas and to my surprise the parking lot attendant was Michael Dell, who had a kid in the school. Nobody said “yuk yuk Dell is such a loser he worked the parking lot.”

Well said.

Random language usage question: in India, if someone is referred to as a billionaire, would that be in terms of rupees or dollars? (1 billion INR is ~13.3 million USD)

Or does it essentially never come up because a typical Indian would use lakh/crore instead? Is there's something like a "lakh croreaire"?

Indians use "crorepati" for someone with a crore rupees. Interestingly, the Indian equivalent of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is "Kaun Banega Crorepati" (who will become a crorepati).

As for millionaire/billionaire, imo it's hard to tell but on HN I would infer USD. (Amitabh Bachchan's net worth is ~$400M based on a quick search.)

> the Indian equivalent of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is "Kaun Banega Crorepati"

The North Indian equivalent is called so. Atleast, In TN we have our own version of the show, based on the same "Crore" denomination but not thus called.

What is this fetish by some people to always label things "North Indian"? It is a national show on a national television where the participants are from all around India (from Ladakh to Tamil Nadu, Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh).

> Or does it essentially never come up because a typical Indian would use lakh/crore instead?

Exactly. USD is almost always implied when million/billion is used

Yeah, for millionaire/billionaire the definition shifts to the western one. Mukesh was/is also top 10 richest globally I believe.

If you see a billion being used it is usually the Western style. So when you say someone is a billionaire it is in USD. If you want an Indian take on it, it would be: Lakhpati and Crorepati.

I'm not familiar with Mukhesh Ambani or his reputation, but sounds like he's India's version of China's Jack Ma? Jack Ma and Alibaba came to the forefront due in part to his connections to the Chinese government.

On the topic itself, it's unclear what Google's intentions are and how they could benefit from such an investment. $10B is not a big sum so is the purpose altruistic or as grease for other purposes?

Not really. Mukesh Ambani was born a billionaire. His father was India's biggest power and oil baron.

Afaik, the Ambani dynasty of 2 generations has been India's richest for about 30 years now.

More like the Koch brothers. Inherited a vast company with tremendous financial and political resources and made them even vaster and more deeply rooted.

I wouldn't call Mukhesh Ambani as Jack Ma. He inherited a lot of wealth and more important, a lot of government connections. He can bend rules for e.g. his non-existent Jio University got the tag "Institution of Eminence"

He gets foreign technology and just jumps in any sector with governments blessing. Be it oil and gas, infra projects or even telecom

Unlike Jack, Mukesh's father started with Reliance Polyester then expanded the business. Mukesh took it to even greater heights.

Companies aren't altruistic, their only purpose is to provide value to shareholders. That doesn't mean this is a greasing, it could just be google wanting more people connected to the internet so more people use their products.

> Companies aren't altruistic, their only purpose is to provide value to shareholders.

Companies do whatever their owners tell them to do. What you are talking about one specific model of what some people think they should do and what purpose they should serve in society. A very popular and possibly even 'default' model, but only one of many.



that said, assuming altruism here even if there aren't immediately obvious benefits to the company would probably be a bit naive.

I don't see how it's not alarming for Indians that one key person/company connected to the govt is the sole beneficiary of incoming businesses into India.

There is a cause for alarm, and some Indians do see that as a threat. Right now, Indian society is caught in a deep web of fake news, false narratives, and the conflating of what the govt is, what the nation is, and the difference between the two. Many competitors have raised a lot of questions about how Jio did not follow the rules (there are a lot to link) the basic one being a rule about giving free plans for more than three months (which was not allowed by TRAI - Indian telecom regulatory authority - previously). but nothing happened, and people were happy with free internet. A lot of these issues are buried under loads of information on the many 24 hour news channels (two of them owned by Mukesh Ambani himself) and then the web of Whatsapp and other online social media helping to shape a narrative.

Then there is an average indian feeling pride about how Jio is able to attract such investments. So, some of us may have considered it, and would have spoken about it, but a lot are not really aware. When people do speak against these, they are usually tagged as cynical or contrarian because speaking against a public figure in India is sometimes considered speaking against India.

P.S. Sorry for being so vague, but this requires a lot of context to ascertain why it is this way. I dont blame whatsapp or Facebook, just that we are a vulnerable bunch and usually believe what we want to believe.

Most Indians care only about the cheapest workable plan, product, service, while making a purchase. It's not about Jio, it's about the 500 rupees free call, free SMS, free 4G plans. As long as Jio offers it they'll use it. They'll drop it as soon as something cheaper comes around.

Mukesh Amabani, is mostly raising money because he had simply too much debt, and he is also getting old. It could also be a part of larger succession planning. His kids are not that much hands-on into business as much as he was with his father. It makes sense to have a Tata Sons Trust like scenario where professional managers runs the companies while the companies are owned through a holding trust owned by his children.

The experiment with Anil Ambani's mismanagement and the state he has left his business is a lesson for Mukesh to not let it repeat with his own children.

> They'll drop it as soon as something cheaper comes around.

My bet - nothing cheaper comes along. Because Reliance's biggest competitive advantage is close links with the government, regardless of the party in power. A hypothetical competitor would find it difficult to get spectrum allocated, have trouble with land usage rights, tax issues like Vodafone had.

There is a reason foreign companies set up joint ventures with Reliance, Tata, Birla etc. Ostensibly it's because these companies "understand" the Indian market. In reality, it's because they have spent decades "lobbying" political parties and will continue doing so for several decades more. A company like Sky wouldn't know how to get started with political lobbying, wouldn't be comfortable with outright bribery, can't make a long term commitment to staying in India. So they set up Tata Sky - they supply the tech, Tata supplies the connections.

Indian telecom is now a classic oligopoly, far from our heady days as one of the most insanely competitive telecom markets.

Well Indian customer is always a price conscious one though. Like it or not, we are that way. Remember those days people used to make pre agreed arrangements, and just make the communication acknowledgements though missed calls?

So eventually if you want to be profitable and sell more services, you have to offer a good price.

It's just the way it is. I even know people who look at fares and then decide if they want to take their own two wheeler or an Ola. Online food delivery works the same way. People hunt for deals and only order through that.

Sure some people pay for services. But those are generally rare.

> Remember those days people used to make pre agreed arrangements, and just make the communication acknowledgements though missed calls?

Can you elaborate how did that work? I never heard about this method

A classic example from a business perspective: Poorer users had no money to waste calling people up - but incoming calls were free.

So firms would advertize a missed call number on the radio.

People could give that number a missed call, and they would soon get a call back from the firm - thus never spending any money at all.

The more common interpersonal example was one person having more money than the other, or being on a company plan - so they would get missed calls from their family/friends, and they would then call back.

The cost was thus borne by the firm/richer person/person with more talk time.

Say you want to tell your mom once you safely reach school (via public transport). But you don't actually want to spend the money on a call or text (India did not have "unlimited text", at least when I was growing up there). So your mom and you agree on a protocol that "one missed call means I reached safely". Now you just call her and disconnect immediately. Message received.

Hypothetical Example: I would tell my dad that I'll give a missed call and let it ring just thrice once I got safely to University from home.

Actual Example from my life: My dad had a cellular plan that had lots of free minutes of calling. So, I would just give him a missed call and he would call back. This was the early 2000s I think.

You would tell me "if I am able to make it to the movie tonight I will leave you a missed call around 2pm" and then neither party pays for a telephone call or sms.

We called this “beep”ing in Romania. Apparently it was widespread across developing contries [1]

[1] https://academic.oup.com/jcmc/article-pdf/13/1/1/22316427/jj...

In those 'competive' days data prices were so high that most of the country couldn't afford it. And this was just because the existing companies had formed some sort of a 'cartel' and were not willing to part with profits[0]. All that changed when Jio entered the market.

0. https://www.counterview.net/2016/09/top-telecom-cartes-airte...

Those are not the competitive days, those are pretty much classic examples of the chilling effect on our market after the SC forcing a re-auction.

An auction exposes market pricing information which was hidden before.

In case people aren't aware, the Indian mobile sector was one of the cheapest and most pioneering markets of its time.

People created the 0 cost phone call - farmers and mobile users could give a missed call to a number they heard on the radio, and then they would get a call back.

Stuff that was in sharp contrast to the mobile plans and service packs around the world.

While people argue about data, they forget how hard it is to set up the infrastructure and the massive boost forward simple phone calls were for people.

That was the era I am talking about, not post the SC verdict.

> In case people aren't aware, the Indian mobile sector was one of the cheapest and most pioneering markets of its time.

Not sure in what way you mean pioneering but it was definitely not the cheapest! Everything cost money. Text messages, phone calls, data, roaming between states, out-of-state phone calls. Everything. All this in addition to the cost of the cell phone itself - no bundled offers with phone like AT&T did with Apple in the US.

Furthermore, you could get away with a connection from private companies like Airtel and Vodafone if you lived in a big city. Rural coverage by these players was notoriously bad. The only substitute available was the one provided by the government itself - BSNL - which got a reputation of having the "best coverage".

All that changed dramatically when Reliance came up with a Rs.500 phone which included a connection with free unlimited calls between two Reliance phones. That was the beginning of true mass adoption of cell phones in India.

> People created the 0 cost phone call - farmers and mobile users could give a missed call to a number they heard on the radio, and then they would get a call back.

This is not an example of a model working well. This is an example of a workaround to mitigate high call costs.

You can check what ARPU and per individual costs were in the world comapred to India historically for calls. India has always been one of the cheapest places to have calls, and one of the lowest ARPU in any market - and it managed to get multiple mobile phones per person and has a thriving telecom market.

The 0 cost phone call is an example of the market working well - people at the bottom of the pyramid have no money to spend, and given what ARPU was, expecting even lower prices is the stuff of fantasies.

This is innovation at work. I don't know what people are expecting when what they had was already impressive for the time.

Ironically, the prices are far lower than they were in those insanely competitive days.

True, yet recently I recall prices being raised and all firms moving in lock step. A classic signs of oligopolistic behavior.

Further all 3 major firms are in massive debt, and after the SC interpretation of how they have to pay their dues, they are pretty much dead firms unless they get money.

You can already see them creating new packages to target users who have more disposable income.

I'd say make hay while the sun shines. The structure of a market dictates the strategies and tactics which work. With 3 players collusion is the norm, not competition.

I don't think Jio's game is to squeeze out revenue from the cheap data users. They've openly admitted to using Deep-packet Inspection techniques and I believe data harvesting is where the main long-term game looks to be for them.

If you're concerned about your privacy, it's usually known in India in the tech circles to stay away from Jio related products.



What can any packet inspection do over https, since that's where the majority of the important traffic is,not to mention that a lot of apps use certificate pinning, so even MITM can't help analyse the packets. And all this is before eSNI becomes mainstream.

For now

It has been about 3 years atleast since Jio has paid plans, and things are still way way cheaper. Even if the prices double, they will be way cheaper than what they were.

Firms will just keep removing plans that help the poorest users as they work to get ARPU higher. This has to happen anyway because the major firms are under huge mountains of debt.

They cant be allowed to fall, because then the only name in town is reliance, which would be even worse.

What people are forgetting is that 1) Firms already raised prices and 2) that its not about data.

Its about a competitive market. We used to have this, and it even created the thriving VAS industry for a while. That died because of classic rent seeking behavior by telecoms over the VAS firms, killing that entire engine of ingenuity.

Telecom industries are know for bad results (see America, or Australia) when its not structured correctly.

Everyone who is focusing just on prices is unaware of the number of failures and missed opportunities resulting from bad telecom market structures.

Take Net neutrality, given the telcos way, it would have long been lost and rent seeking structures would have grown on top of it - it would recreate the bundled world of cable television over the net.

This means that poor users would never get a chance to look at products which compete purely on features and value - they would look at products that are "Jio Free" or "Vodafone plus", where having a hook up with the ISP is more important than features.

Looking at it in terms of "hey prices are low" is missing the great risk this industry is in.

My personal take is that for Jio the cellphone network is an opening to providing services that can be monetised in long run. Same strategy thats being followed by biggest tech companies across the world.

That will not work that well. Average Indian right now doesn't really have that much disposable income for such services to be very profitable. It will have to be the very long run. I doubt either google or Facebook earn a lot from India right now, and they are very well established, and their compute costs are as low as they can get. I don't see how Jio is going to be able to follow the strategy of the biggest tech companies.

I hope India does grow at a large enough rate for such services to be profitable.

Most telecoms in the world are,In Canada Bell Canada,Telus and Rogers own almost 90% of the market. When Verizon tried to enter the market the big three lobbied so hard against Verizon, even Verizon with all its capitol could not get in to Canadian.In the end customers in Canada are still paying very high fees for data plans anywhere in the world. Eventually India will get there.

> Because Reliance's biggest competitive advantage is close links with the government, regardless of the party in power.

I think their biggest advantage is their cheap (earlier free) data services.

If the children don't even want to bother contributing to the enterprise, why not give ownership to the larger public, via a stock sale + charitable donation (like Gates and Buffet do), ?

Because in India keeping the wealth within the family is above all other concerns.

> Many competitors have raised a lot of questions about how Jio did not follow the rules (there are a lot to link) the basic one being a rule about giving free plans for more than three months (which was not allowed by TRAI - Indian telecom regulatory authority - previously). but nothing happened, and people were happy with free internet.

These competitors are the same companies who had 'cartelized' the telecom industry[0] and had refused to bring down data prices in order to ensure their profits. I wonder why questions weren't raised against TRAI back then. Once Jio entered the scene, they did bring down the prices.

0. https://www.counterview.net/2016/09/top-telecom-cartes-airte...

Oh, this is coming quite out of the blue.

A few passing birdies told me that Sundarajan was far more enthusiastic about China, then India, and that he had quite some amount of aversion to his home market.

the person is connected with both the parties. so may be opposition does not dare to mention him. but i personally feel he is lesser evil, especially if you look at the penetration Chinese products and venture money have made in India.

How is Chinese venture money more evil than Ambani owning everything?

Chinese venture firms are subject to PRC's National Intelligence Law, which requires all Chinese organisations to support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work.

I don't think Ambani has such an obligation.


That doesn’t address why Chinese money is less desirable than Ambani’s money.

Their influence in India is directly proportional to the money they put in the Indian economy, which basically means the influence exercised by the Chinese government. The lesser the Chinese influence, the better it is considering the current state of India-China relations. Ambani's money is definitely not fueling a known Indian adversary.

You have a fair point regarding not fueling a known adversary. I'm not sure about the influence part, as they have very far from a controlling share in the Indian investments I'm aware of. There is HDFC Bank, but their the Chinese share doesn't exceed 2%. Dubai I think has a larger share than the Chinese.

>>How is Chinese venture money more evil than Ambani owning everything?

Ambani can be dealt with a stroke of a pen when the goverment wants to. China on the other hand...

It's not China, it is Chinese VC money. And no, I don't see that the Government can deal with Ambani so easily, or even antagonise him with impunity. Winning elections cost money and with the new electoral bonds, Ambani can easily fund the opposition in the next elections.

Yeah, the Chinese government is far more involved with it's companies than India with any of it's non nationalized companies. China got Jack Ma to spinoff Alipay from Alibaba, screwing the other shareholders badly. I don't think there is anyy big company in China without CCP members high up in the ranks.

Ambani on the other hand, however powerful he may be, is certainly not a bigger threat than China. Companies being Ambani owned, while worse than a competitive market, is still much better than being Tencent owned.

> Companies being Ambani owned, while worse than a competitive market, is still much better than being Tencent owned.

But better how, exactly?

Much more easier to control than China. Ambani doesn't have an "Ambani liberation army" backing him up.

Think of it this way, why did China spin off Ant Financial out of Alibaba? Had it been in hands of foreign investors, it would be a huge issue later on if it became big. And if it became big, it would be much harder to spin it off that way. You can't spin off 100 billions and not expect strong retaliation from the countries of the foreign investors.

It was much more easier for them to control Jack Ma, and ensure he never becomes too powerful.

While India is a democracy unlike China, and the government can't just get people to disappear with nobody questioning, even without such totalitarian tools, a well functioning sovereign government is always more powerful than any of it's richest people.

OK, thanks for explaining your point. I still think you're conflating Tencent with China as much as you're overestimating how well-functioning the Indian government is. In my view it is grossly incompetent beyond spreading propaganda, horse-trading MPs and MLAs to swing elections, and indeed disappearing people and killing them extra-judiciously in fake encounters. Ambani capturing everything would result in the complete demise of the dregs of Indian democracy as he will remain king-maker as long as he lives IMHO.

I think you are trying to argue both sides here. If the government is not afraid of doing shady stuff, like the Chinese government, then it is free to do anything to any billionaire, and being rich doesn't get anyone any power, like China.

If the government respects the rule of law, and doesn't do any extra judicial stuff, even then it makes sense to not let a competing foreign power like China be a stakeholder in your important companies.

If the Indian government is not afraid of contravening Indian laws, it can grab Chinese shares anyway.

If it wants to maintain the appearance of being lawful and fair, there is already an Enemy Property Act, 1968 to more or less support grabbing Chinese investments (perhaps with an amendment or two). Under what pretence would they grab Ambani's property? There is Eminent Domain in India, but only AFAIK for land ownership, and even that requires fair compensation at market prices.

It can't grab the Chinese shares without angering China, and anyone in the whole wide world would rather anger any billionaire than China.

> Under what pretence would they grab Ambani's property?

If there is no existing law, government can make laws. I mean the government did nationalize so many banks at once right? The government is sovereign. The amount of power it holds over it's own people, even the richest ones, is far far higher than what it holds over another strong sovereign state.

Anyways this was all about power. There are so many other reasons for ensuring someone in the country holds the wealth rather than your competitor.

> there is already an Enemy Property Act, 1968 to more or less support grabbing Chinese investments

No. The Enemy Property Act, 1968 is specifically made for Pakistani Nationals after the 1965 Indo-Pak War. It is not generic. To declare China as an Enemy a proper War should take place between India and China. Is China ready for such a misadventure?

The Wikipedia article is incomplete on the topic. The act applies to Chinese owned properties as well.

We made the mistake of not conflating East India Company with Britain, and it didn't end well for us.

Who was the us in that scenario? There was no India back then, just a set of kingdoms and 'princely states' that hated each other as much as they opposed any European takeover. The present circumstances are in no way similar.

Ambani is not going to claim Ladakh is his or want to build a house in entire Arunachal Pradesh. China on the other hand.... is already doing that. And we don't want that.(period) literally. Ambani can be dealt with. But not an aggressive neighbour who have control over devices and cameras with 50% of Indian youths.

If there was no India before the British, then

a) what was Christopher Columbus looking for?

b) what was Vasco da Gama looking for?

c) what were British/Dutch/French East India Companies looking for?

d) what did Alexander's ambassador Megasthenes write about in his book Indica?

e) where is Mahabharata set? Bharat is still one of India's official names.

India has had a shared cultural history for a very long time.

That it wasn't always called India is a moot point.

The point here is not the historical name of the subcontinent or any shared cultural history (which all neighbouring states have). It is the lack of a common Indian government, comparable to the present time, that made the mistake of allowing too much investment by the EIC as you seemed to suggest. What the British Empire called India included parts of Afghanistan and Myanmar; modern India certainly has no claim over them.

You're distracting from the point. It doesn't matter how strong the central government is or how divided the population is.

What we are discussing is foreign ownership and foreign power over India, and you just said that allowing EIC too much of these was a mistake

I have not said any such thing. I said GP had argued it. It is absurd because there was no such “we” at the time.

I think you misunderstood the parent poster's point. They are talking about India the nation, while you are talking of India the concept. India the concept existed. But India the concept is similar to America the concept or Europe or Africa the concept, not Germany or France. Also, before the British, the last empire to rule over almost all of modern day India was Ashoka, more than 2000 years ago.

Umm, the Mughal, the Guptas? Also the pratiharas, rashtrakutas and palas collectively ruled over india too. The Delhi sultanate was pretty huge too, and so was the maratha empire.

But being a single governance group isn't the point. Being culturally similar is what defines India. And it obviously is.

If we are being pedantic, Germany didn't exist until 1871.

Tencent (and all Chinese companies) are controlled by the Communist Party. The business has autonomy only on questions that the Party has no preference about. It's about the same as a profesional employee working for a business.

I think GP meant that at least very with Ambani, the money stays in India and is circulated inside the country. The services are provided to Indians, we are paid to do the work, and we spend it in India. It's better because the wealth of the country isn't leaking away, or at least leaking slower.

Services provided, persons employed, employees paid etc is all the same whether Ambani owns the shares or Chinese VCs do. Ambani would no more share his profits with other Indians than Chinese VCs would. Both would be subject to the same taxes on income earned in India. Maybe Ambani reinvests some of his profits in India; but for all we know he might choose to do so outside India.

China, an authoritarian state can and does use its financial influence to force it's interests. Do you not see how Chinese vc answer to china and not india? If you think they can just be banned, what else do you think is the Indian government doing?

Ambani is still subject to Indian laws, and even if he leaves, his wealth and empire is answerable to the Indian government.

The companies that Chinese VCs have invested in, in India, are also subject to Indian laws. No I don't think the Indian government can grab Chinese shares in Indian companies. That is why I'm asking what the problem is if the Chinese invest in Indian companies. To me it seems better that investments are spread between Ambani, the Chinese and all the rest rather than letting Ambani own everything.

India does not want more East India Company - like situations, maybe?

>>It's not China, it is Chinese VC money.

No difference in China. Do what is good for the fatherland or your fiances, you personally and your family will suffer.

>>I don't see that the Government can deal with Ambani so easily, or even antagonise him with impunity.

So like many he's wayyy to powerful to deal with. But at least he is a local, not jeopardizing India's geopolitics. Just as he can control politicians, they can control him, if/when they want to. They know what he did to become so powerful and can send 500 police officers to his offices to search for evidence if/when...

I think there's a qualitative difference in somebody merely very rich and a person like Ambani who is in the top 10 wealthiest people in the world. He is not quite a 'local' that the Government can just CBI-raid into intimidation like e.g. Prannoy Roy.

See Russia as to how to deal with people like that. It is nothing that a raid or accident can’t fix. He is also not murdering Indian soldiers on the border which is a bonus. Same men that ordered that escalation are investing PRC money. If they are not same they share the same boss.

> Same men that ordered that escalation are investing PRC money. If they are not same they share the same boss.

This is speculation, unless you have sources in which case please share them.

The most detailed and seemingly authentic source [1] I have seen about the Galwan brawl (that resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese soldiers) suggests the escalation was not planned but the accidental result of a chain of events starting from a freshly deployed Chinese trooper pushing the Indian party's Commanding Officer.

[1] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/3-separate-brawls-outs...

That has planned provocation written all over it.

1. Bring new troops trained in different area(much easier to bash someone head in with a club when you were not stationed right across from him)

2. Instantly escalate by attacking enemy officer(clearly planned event)

3. Have melee weapons prepared and ready to go(clearly planned)

Indian officer and men acquitted themselves well I have to say reacting against completely unforeseen attack with their own initiative and aggression. Shutting down this play and counter attacking.

Yes I read the article and your comment violates the HN guidelines.

Can't reply to you last comment but here is my take

I was born in totalitarian regime so my point of view on how things work is different. Nobody in the right mind in regime like PRC will show initiative like shoving you enemies Commanding officer. It just never happens. Those guys were ordered to do it. Consequences of doing something like that to you, your family etc without an order would be extreme.

Number of killed in the end is irrelevant, it is like US counting how many vietcong they bagged, utterly pointless. Small units, ncos and officers performed very well here.

I think it was what you call reconnaissance in force. Chinese wanted to see the quality of the opposing units, cause confusion and perhaps fear. They succeeded in first, others not so much. But they are persistent and judging from satellite photos have been building up force in the are for a while. Act 2 will come, sooner or later.

It is very consistent with the "fishermen" ramming opponents ships, killing Vietnamese sailors etc. This has been MO of the PRC for a very long time.

Here you go, fixed.

Thanks for taking out the ad hominem.

As for the rest, I disagree with your interpretation. It can even be argued that the Indians responded disproportionately to one guy being shoved by attacking everyone in the opposing party. Anyway we can't claim both that the Chinese murdered our troops and also that we killed more than twice of theirs than they did ours (but apparently, when we kill them, it is honourable?)

Are you really interested in debating the topic, or just perpetual muddying the waters?

The question is if Chinese ownership of Indian industries will be bad, and the answer is an obvious yes.

As for your claim in this case, it wasn't just a freshly deployed Chinese trooper, but the whole platoon, who had built structures and arranged weapons in violation of prior agreement.

Chinese investment can be handled under the banner of "National security", seems to work fine here in the West.

It will result in massive capital flight from other foreign investors.

Well there are a lot of people who are not aware of the fact and then there are those who are onboard because they are onboard with the government. So the alarmist kind are a minority which media doesn't show. Also 90% of the media channels are owned by the aforementioned person.


Why does speaking up about the Indian government inevitably bring up questions like this? Ambani's relationship with this government bothers me a lot (among many other things about any government, particularly this one).


Sorry, I cannot exhaustively list all possible issues with the country's politicians everytime I have something to say about the current government that is supposed to be accountable to Indians (because they are in power, Sonia Gandhi is not!).

Again, I've seen this pattern: Question this government and immediately be branded as a Congress/AAP/$party sympathizer. At best people ask questions like yours, and at worst they come to an agreement that you should immediately leave India and go to Pakistan. This for questioning your government.

Is Sonia Gandhi PM of India?

The joke is that rahul Gandhi is the PM of India and he should take responsibility for the state the country is in.

The imbalance of power in India can bother a lot of people. There is merit to question someone if their comments aren't in line with facts.

It’s part of wider assault by Mohdi’s government on the press https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/world/asia/modi-india-pre...

I wonder if it's indian nationalists downvoting you for criticising Mohdi. Or US nationalists for expressing sympathies with the press.

Pretty sure it’s Modi supporters. It’s pretty common these days whenever you post anything they don’t approve

It's wrong to characterize it as "one person being the sole beneficiary of incoming businesses in India"

The recent spate of investments in Reliance JIO, have been just stake purchases. He is selling stake in his company to get capital for expansion.

Ambani has signaled that he wants investment to further grow an already rapidly growing empire of media services.

A few things are very favorable to Jio

a) Due to COVID and the expectation that this pandemic and its ripple effects will be felt for a few years, there is a very high likely hood that new customers will start consuming digital media services. And that is the key. Investments in JIO reflect the fact that it is the only company that has all it's cards right to capture the new user market.

b) Also, JIO has been at the cusp of an already rapidly increasing user base, that includes a large portion of rural people. It has seen a massive growth in user base and actual users too (No one is simply taking a phone connection and keeping it. They are actually using their JIO connections to consume content)

c) And the pandemic has come at just the right time too. Old guard companies are caught on backfoot. There is tremendous good will in people for JIO. JIO reduced costs 30X for data. It was a game changer. Peoples media consumption in India exploded.

d) In addition to this, Reliance group also has its hands in the Media and Entertainment industry. Not to mention retail, FMCG, etc.

So, as on date, JIO has the following services fully available to a large and every increasing base of users, this is apart from dead cheap 4G internet connectivity on phones and dongles.

1) Movies 2) TV Channels 3) Retail Shopping, they recently launched a competitor to Amazon. 4) Games 5) Educational content.

and a myriad more.

But here comes the best part. There are a couple of reasons India tailor made for services.

1. It has a large pre-teen, teen and young adult population, that will dominate consumer markets for at-least 5 decades. 2. It has 28 states, 122 major languages, and similar set of cultural groups. So you have ample amount of scope to localize content and have a good audience for that content. 3. Indians love to indulge in languages and cultures from other parts of India. Punjabi songs are loved all over the country. Telugu cinemas have huge markets in southern states. Tamil movies are revered all over the country. And Indians consume a lot of dubbed content. Including international ones, like Korean etc. So what this means is that media produced for one local culture / language, if received well, has a ready market all over India. This reduces risk and increases rewards. 4. Indians love to consume content. We are a noisy civilization. We consume a lot of content and want new content all the time. Movies are a huge part of the daily lives of rural villages. 5. Large number of people in rural areas have been using smartphones for the past 5 years, thanks to reducing handset costs and usage costs. They are already consuming content on the internet via Youtube, etc. They are a ready market to push content and services too.

I suspect JIO is looking for large investments to create new content for its media services and setup a distribution network for it's retail services.

Additionally, Reliance is highly respected in India. When the current CEOs father ran the company, millions of middle-class families in India bought houses, cars, got their children married, gathered retirement funds, etc riding on the sheer growth of Reliance as a company.

My father was also one of them.

> Additionally, Reliance is highly respected in India. When the current CEOs father ran the company, millions of middle-class families in India bought houses, cars, got their children married, gathered retirement funds, etc riding on the sheer growth of Reliance as a company.

Reliance is one of the companies that actually care about retail investors, at times even going to extreme measures to help them. For instance, in 1982 they took on the notorious bear cartel and even beat them:

The bear cartel was successful in bringing the share price down but Dhirubhai was smart. He realized that if this bear cartel was allowed to go on, they would have taken the share price down to wherever they wanted, and you know who would have lost? Ambani wouldn’t have lost, it’s the small investor that would have lost money and they would have lost faith in Reliance. So he said, you can’t hammer my shares

Full story/podcast here:


> connected to the govt

May I know exactly what sort of connections are we talking about it? Big business families have always had some relationship with politicians in India but they were less evident 2-3 decades back then due to then governments' incline towards socialism.

India's potential is limited only by the incompetence of Indian government (irrespective of who is in power). Too many shady powers being involved here pulling the string. India's data localization law was in fact lobbied for by the real estate firms as they wanted foreign companies to be arm twisted into investing in real estate in India. You can search news for who benefits from this sort of wasteful expenditure.

Given its huge population which is a growing market, it does make sense putting data centers closer home.

Cheap power and cooling might be a factor, but India is also building huge solar and wind capacities, and not to forget the solar alliance and cross border solar energy exchange/grid.

corruption is caused by wealth, health, educational inequality, lack of familiy planning in many cases. If people can't feed themselves or their families they will turn to corruption and use any means to get ahead

To say Mr Ambani has good relations with the current government is underselling his influence. He has good relationships across the spectrum of Indian political parties (except maybe the communists who are effectively irrelevant).

However you feel about how Jio got its foothold in the telecoms game ([1] has details), it’s sheer scale makes it an attractive investment. It’s one of two major national 4G networks and an astonishing amount of data moves through it. They’ve big ambitions on the 5G front. They’re also building India’s largest last-mile fibre network. Given that Ambani wants Jio to be debt-free by next year, and an upcoming IPO for Jio by 2024, key industry players falling over themselves to grab a pre-IPO piece isn’t surprising.

The concern, of course, is the complete lack of privacy legislation in India, and how this impacts Jio’s ambitions re “monetising” its users and their clickstream activity.

[1] https://m.thewire.in/article/tech/reliance-jio-telecom-regul...

On the topic of country of origin, they list the country of origin on all produce I've purchased here in the UK. It blows my mind that it is profitable to ship grapes to the UK from South Africa.

I think this rather shows the continued weakness of India.

On one hand, China and nationalism are used as a tool by the Indian government (not least while the Covid-19 situation goes pear-shaped), on the other hand they are at least as dependent on US companies, if not more.

I think India should rather reflect on China's industrial strategy, including investments in infrastructure and fostering the development of national giants when India is lacking on both fronts.

> I think India should rather reflect on China's industrial strategy, including investments in infrastructure and fostering the development of national giants when India is lacking on both fronts.

I think it's much easier to make massive investments in infrastructure when you have a current account surplus. The Indian government is trying to push the industry to be more export focused but years of protectionism and import-substitution norms have made the industry less competitive.

More broadly maybe one should think of the China model as state-led capitalism and note that it did not origin in China but in Japan and succesfully carried countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore out of their development country status.

It is not the same as nationalism and in particular for India, strong nationalism has the flip-side of igniting dormant conflicts with it sizeable muslim minority.

It was accompanied by nationalism in all of those cases, however.

Also don't forget the Prussians, where Japan got it from.


>your patronizing comment comes across massively condescending

Not the case if you give the comment a charitable reading.

"data" x_x

China is aging.

China population https://www.populationpyramid.net/china/2020/


India population https://www.populationpyramid.net/india/2020/

China will never develop a consumption based economy with its aging population. It takes Europe, decades for its population to age. It only take Japan 25 years to age like Europe and China's one child policy is not helping and its on track to age like Japan.

It's only a logical decision to go to India for its young population and most Indian speak English. If only India is more friendly to foreign business and can do what CCP did. (central planning) I think India can surpass China to became number two largest economy.

> China will never develop a consumption based economy with its aging population

Why is that the case? I assume older people consume more than younger ones, esp healthcare

30-40 is the high of consumption. marriage/kids mean house, car...etc. you start to pull back after 60 and try to save your money to last you into old age. health care along is not going to drive the consumption based economy like when you are in your 30. you can see that in baby boomers. Gen X never carry United States like baby boomers did and Gen Y will carry America for the next few decades.

Can confirm - 3 kids and I've never bought so much shit in my life. I should replace my front door with a conveyor belt for all the Amazon boxes...

I laughed at that TED talk where the guy shows how shaking your hands can save a paper towel. We have used more paper towels in the last 1 month than I ever used in my entire 20 years of single adulthood combined.

Demographics are a curse for India like it is for China due to their sheer scale. The reason why China has trouble transitioning into consumption economy is because after 30 years of incredible growth, 600M people still subsist on poverty level income. Why? Because at it's peak, manufacturing "only" employed about 1/3 of the country since 1/3 essentially maxed global demand. This is despite massively exploiting the model that made Japan, South Korea, Taiwan rich, and basically surpassing these countries in pretty much every industry except semiconductors. Populous countries has to do proportionally more to to meet it's peoples needs. Sometimes seemingly impossibly more^.

The next 20-30 years is going to be India's peak demographic dividend phase assuming population stabilizes. While there's going to many positive developments, much of it will be squandered simply because India will take ~30 years of incremental growth to get to where China is today, unless it can execute central planning better than the CCP. Otherwise they're left with a bunch of discontent and destructive youth which is much more dangerous than China's curse of unproductive elderly. Growth will also be undermined by automation, which has eliminated entire high employment manufacturing opportunities, while increase in industrial robots is helping existing manufacturing countries retain their base, i.e. China is installing 150k industrial robots per year (3x more than 2nd place) and rapidly climbing the robots per 10k employee metric (Korean leads with 700, China 100, India 5). Further China has massive influence on where manufacturing logistics, they are in a position to pick winners and losers if they ever want to weaponize export controls. And western companies will think twice about repeating practices that allowed China to grew that big in the first place. Development is going to be spread across South Asia, ASEAN, India will not be in a place to capture as much of the pies as China did. I do think it's about time India shapes up and make an concerted effort to develop, but she has accrued so many nerfs for simply waiting too long. It's overdue, but in many ways it's already too late.

^Keep in mind development, especially for a massive potential powers like India is much more involved. There's a reason US pivoted to undermine China after Made in China 2025 was announced. These are industries essential to self-sufficiency AND climbing out of middle income trap, but simultaneously erode US/Western lead. India will face the same resistance if she ever reaches that far, otherwise all she'll ever be is farmers and widget makers. Hegemony will always cap the ambition of potential rivals. It's different for smaller countries are allowed to grow rich, often with support, because they will never be threats. It's why India & China has their own nuclear and space program. Why China expends vast resources for indigenous military. Once India grows too fast, it will be kneecapped by US and China. Like US kneecapped Japan and China. That's the way it goes.

Getting the feeling China has blown it and successful companies looking to expand into Asia are now looking at India instead.

I also saw that Foxconn is looking to build Apple products in India now too.

Companies don't invest billions in India to shaft China, they're doing it to maintain or grow their position on the Indian market, which is a huge one. If India suddenly sees a wave of "build it at home" sentiment then Google or Apple won't want to be left out and fall behind the competition.

Publicly traded companies can't afford to play favorites, they "have to" go where the profits are and make the best of it, whether it's decades of being the mole in a wack-a-mole game with the Chinese system, or having to invest extra billions in India.

For example the largest manufacturing plant BMW has is in the US. But that's not because it's cheaper to build there, or because they want to shaft Germany. It's because they wanted access to that market in an economically and socially acceptable fashion, making them the biggest auto exporter by value in the U.S. The "socially acceptable" may not have worked since even the White House was unaware of this, presumably many Americans also.

Pretty sure there is a little bit of China exit strategy here as well. The actions taken in Hong Kong along with recent invasion demonstrations against Taiwan don't exactly make for a stable business environment. What is a business to do if China acts violently on either and suddenly your supply chain if off limits because of sanctions?

Still after moving segments to India the next area is where? Africa is still a source of cheap labor but too many countries there suffer from stability issues. Figure within a generation it will be both viable market and manufacturing base.

Google has pretty much no business in China, so it makes no difference for them what's happening there.

> they're doing it to maintain or grow their position on the Indian market

That's not the main reason for moving manufacturing. You move manufacturing to exploit lower prices in the production chain (and other logistical considerations). It's why one $10 t-shirt is produced by work in 10 different countries, and why that too is constantly shifting. It's harder to "shift" a massive centralized tech industrial manufacturing system, but if the cost savings are there, you move.

I think everyone is now aware that China is finally developing a middle class and starting to clean up its rampant abuse of its environment, meaning it's going to cost more to manufacture there. Time to look for another developing nation to exploit, and India is a gigantic and attractive target with a lot of potential.

Building (and selling) cars is quite different than phones, advertising, or internet services. BMW produces mostly SUVs in its Spartanburg plant, and it sells most of those SUVs in the USA (its biggest market), so it's more profitable (tariffs, shipping, JIT, etc) to make them locally. All other BMWs in the USA are imported.

Manufacturing your tech in your biggest market (now or the future) may be unnecessary and less profitable if you can squeeze more out of the production chain in another country. China has just been so god damn cheap for so long (and so free with its loans) that it's totally fine if they aren't even one of your biggest markets. But they won't be that cheap for much longer, especially if the USG makes it harder/more expensive.

This isn't about manufacturing.

This is $10B for /digital/ services. Google dreams of being allowed into that market. The Great Firewall prevents it outright.

Yeah, I don't read any commentary on the current China situation at all into this decision. The appeal of India's growing middle class, IT outsourcing industry, Android-centric smartphone market, widespread English fluency and emerging domestic startup scene is there for a Google wanting access to that market and a base for certain types of operations regardless of what China's doing.

> Publicly traded companies can't afford to play favorites, they "have to" go where the profits are and make the best of it, whether it's decades of being the mole in a wack-a-mole game with the Chinese system, or having to invest extra billions in India.

True to some extent only. Apart from profits, publicly traded companies also clamour for a stable business environment. And authoritarian countries have an inherent risk, due to the nature of their government and uncertainty on the world stage.

No one can make 50 year plans for China, like they can do with US, Europe or UK. It's the same case with India too.

Democracies provide an extra level of stability.

> clamour for a stable business environment

> Democracies provide an extra level of stability.

That's very true which is why I said "make the best of it" (i.e. "of a bad situation"). Companies will have to operate under different assumptions and making different plans than they would under normal conditions. Think "peace time vs. war time CEOs". But this is what makes these companies successful, the ability to juggle with unknowns, hostile conditions, uncertain future. It's a gamble but not that different from what Tesla or SpaceX did when jumping into the unknown. They're different types of unknowns but still just as risky, able to easily sink a ship.

> No one can make 50 year plans for China, like they can do with US

Five years ago, I would have agreed with you about the US. But the direction that politics have gone since then makes me a lot less sure.

The rate that corruption has grown under the Trump without repercussions is absolutely astonishing. Like any relationship, I don't know how that break in trust between the government and its citizens can be repaired.

Give me a break. Very little has effectively changed in the past five years, aside from the insane polarization of the media.

The Trump administration's "astonishing rate of corruption" you are perceiving is being massively overstated by partisan media outlets.

Previous administrations were free to engage in all manners of corruption, while the mainstream media touted their "coolness".

There was definitley a lot of corruption in the USA before Trump. I do think it's also the case that under Trump things got more shameless, and so the administration "dares" to go further.

This is worrisome, especially if you don't think corruption is endemic of the Trump administration. New "boundaries" have been tested and set. Future administrations have a playbook that can allow them to get away with more.

No, but they need to make logical decisions about which market to invest in, and it seems they've picked a favorite and decided ?

If I was making that decision, it would be clearly easier to do business in India rather than China and likely far more lucrative with less concerns about property theft, censorship and the stain that human rights abuses will leave.

I don't know if you've ever tried to setup anything in China, it's not exactly a straight forward process or something you'd want to have to do often.

> it seems they've picked a favorite and decided ?

It doesn't look like this to me. India's population is within 50 million of China but has double the growth rate. Even if the GDP per capita (nominal or PPP) is about half of that of China, it still has a huge potential as a market and it never received enough attention. Companies are starting to see that potential now. We shouldn't anthropomorphize company decisions, they are generally purely pragmatic. There were money on the table, it doesn't imply India will be the biggest or most profitable market or production center.

While domestic consumption in big markets that demand local production will be satisfied as such (so an Indian iPhone might say "Made in India"), companies will still supply other markets with products coming from the factory that allows them the highest profits (so a US or EU iPhone will likely still say "Made in China").

> it's not exactly a straight forward process or something you'd want to have to do often.

Designing and building an iPhone are also not very straight forward but if it's profitable companies will do it. That's why so many companies still operate in China despite the chicanery.

>India's population is within 50 million of China but has double the growth rate.

What on earth are you talking about? India's growth rate in the past decade is nowhere comparable to China's. Even if you argue that China cooks their books, you cannot discount the volume and value of trade that China does with numerous other countries.


>it still has a huge potential as a market and it never received enough attention

India has hordes of poorly educated and poor people combined with a minuscule middle class - a definition that is expanded to include people one financial disaster away from poverty. The real market is China, not India, with its growing middle class and easy access to the full spectrum of manufacturing needs combined with a large market.

> India's population is within 50 million of China but has double the growth rate.

The growth rate refers to the population.

India's population growth is largely just trailing China by ~30 years. Current projections seems to suggest China's population will peak around 2030, and India around 2060. It's clear India's population will exceed China's, but it won't get all that much higher as birth rates in India are dropping with development like most other places.

thanks. i misread that and assumed that growth implied economic growth. My other point stands - India's market with any meaningful purchasing power is minuscule compared to China's.

> I don't know if you've ever tried to setup anything in China, it's not exactly a straight forward process or something you'd want to have to do often.

try doing that in india, good luck for stable electricity supply.

I'm pretty sure that we're at the point where no one and nothing is putting the Chinese genie back in the bottle.

I don't agree with the CCP on many things, but China has stood up.

At this point the Chinese ascent can only be slowed down but they will only go down if they implode. Which I don't think anyone wants.

The genie is out of the bottle, the best saying by far about how the West overlooked the coming of hardcore rightists to power in China.

>Getting the feeling China has blown it and successful companies looking to expand into Asia are now looking at India instead

Chinese leadership priced this in years ago. If you follow ongoing political debates in China more closely they were already talking about the next 20 years being rocky as China climbs up in the world stage five to ten years ago. Why do you think China's Made in China 2025 industrial policy program was started in 2015 and OBOR in 2013?

Talk is talk, but question is why murder Indian soldiers? Why bother destroying the golden goose Honkong?

Add to that silly power games to try and intimidate Australia(and failing) PRC strategy is very far from smart here. Perhaps it is supreme arrogance? Arrogance like that historically have led to a lot of people getting killed.

Hong Kong isn't a golden goose any more. Hong Kong went from representing about a fifth of the Chinese economy to about 2% today. The Shanghai stock exchange today is larger than the one in Hong Kong, and the perception in China has shifted from seeing it as an important economic region to a political nuissance as the role of foreign capital diminishes. It's not seen as a dynamic region any more and the tech talent goes to Shenzhen or the Greater Bay Area and to mainland universities while HK suffers from stagnation, so basically they've decided that now is the time to incorporate it before the situation becomes politically untenable.

The situation with India is more complicated and there's actually no consensus inside the party. The arguments for the more assertive stance are mainly that there's right now a huge asymmetry between China and India, simply put India doesn't stand a chance in an actual conflict. The hawkish factions inside the party argue that conflict is inevitable so now is the time to clarify matters as long as China has a tactical advantage.

The jury's actually out on whether that's a smart move or not. From the perspective of the Chinese there's certainly a case to be made for it as the US is in political disarray under incompetent leadership.

HK was a bridge where you could setup things that operated under normal law more or less. That bridge is gone and any confidence in long term rule of law has evaporated. That was its main contribution, it is not like some insurgents setup shop in HK it was basically a non-issue till PRC made it into one.

India vs PRC balance is not as one sided as one might think. India has nukes just like China. On the ground PRC has advantage and probably in the air as well. But guess where all the Chinese trade routes pass by? In hot war the decisive theater would be Indian Ocean and balance of power there is very far from foregone conclusion, it would take just some US intel “leaking” for Indian Navy to shut down all PRC trade.

US is mostly non-issue, unless PRC does something idiotic like invade Senkakus or Taiwan. US will do nothing directly.

Biggest move US has done was last year when they helped push a deal to build indigenous modern submarines in Taiwan with Mitsubishi Heavy industries help. Prototype presented suspiciously looks like Soryu, which is any PRC naval planner worst nightmare. And very suspicious number of MHI “retired” engineers have moved to Taiwan. Next step after is couple of the under construction Soryu being sold. That would be like a scalpel next to PRC trade throat. Taiwan been trying to get that capability for decades, US could not help as it does not build electric subs and PRC could pressure others not to sell, well they pissed Japan enough this time(those games around Senkakus and with rare earths maybe was a bad idea eh?)

Why would China try these postures when the opposite country is neck deep in handling a pandemic and one which originated from its land. Is this any time for a bloody battle or power trips?. May be there is more to it than the reasoning you mentioned. Internal frictions are starting to get visible against premier due to the way he handled the covid and how much repair it has caused China globally. May be he is trying to do all this antics to shore up nationalism and create a new problem/diversion which makes covid related ones to take a back seat.

> India doesn't stand a chance in an actual conflict

If its a full blown war then may be yes. But two nuclear powers going all out and all alone will not happen so others will step in. It would complicate things for China. Ideally it should be conventional and a very short one. The rules for engagement can't be escalated, that means China has to work with severe geographic disadvantages.

HK’s biggest tech darling at the moment is deeply implicated in the Chinese surveillance state. Irony of ironies.

If China has indeed "blown it," there's no imperative reason that India must be the subsequent option. Several other markets offer cheap labor and friendly host government policies toward foreign manufacturers.

(not OP) That's true, but Modi is riding a nationalist wave. If you're Google and you're worried about having too much invested in China AND being kicked out of India for investing too little, this would be killing 2 birds with one stone...

India can offer both the cheap labour and the large market.

In the coming decades as the rest of India gets connected to the internet, it will become the biggest market since at its current population growth it'll surpass China's population size.

India is one country with a lot of people. Other countries can be used but the smaller population means you have to figure out a new legal system sooner when you run out of cheap labor.

India is a giant market, an investment of $10 billion is a rounding error.

No, it's not. All Indian startups combined raised a total of $14B last year (2019).

Most of the world economy does not revolve around startups.

"In 2018–19, the foreign direct investment (FDI) in India was $64.4 billion". Consider that there is also domestic investment, and that Google's investment is spread over many years.

Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s small, might be just undervalued and it’s probably cheaper to run a startup there due to lower cost of living and salaries.

That's giant amount of money

How many serious start ups can be there?

Quite a few: it's a country of near 1.4 billion people, so it comes to only $10 per person, and India already has 20-ish unicorns who largely exist to serve them.

India probably has a rather small startup scene, that is not much of an argument.

It's not that small. I can name more Indian startups than Western European startups, and I have never even been to India. Of course everywhere is small compared to the US, but for what it is, India holds its own.

Just because their VC totals don't match the bay area doesn't mean that this is a small investment.

This is bunk.

There are 2 forces At play that matter to your position

1) big tech firms investing in a large local player for legal, political connections and arms length sheilding from the necessary local corruption

2) normal manufacturers moving to Vietnam - which has accelerated since the trade war due to COVID.

The second is best described by a New Zealand owner who was looking for factories to build stuff in, aside from China.

India was described as passable, if you Are an MNC. Then you can afford the workers while ensuring quality.

For anyone else, the quality of service from factories drops of fast. There simply isn’t the wherewithal in talent or experience to do manufacturing at scale and at competitive pricing for the typical firm who wants to move manufacturing hubs.

In contrast He had videos of Vietnamese factories working towards throughout targets and being a viable alternative to China.

India needs to reform Labour laws. It’s been a great hope that this govt with its monumental single mandate would have taken the issue and freed the system up so manufacturing could be unshackled.

Please don't break the site guidelines with "This is bunk" and other such swipes:

When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. "That is idiotic; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."


Noted. My bad.

China hasn't "blown" anything - it is set to compete with US head to head on the world stage not with India over US investments.

I'd go further and say there's nobody that can compete with China at this stage. Sure, some US companies are doing tactical investments here and there, meanwhile the Chinese government is plowing billions into basic infra like railways, ports and roads across swathes of Asia and Africa, and then its companies follow.

> plowing billions into basic infra like railways, ports and roads across swathes of Asia and Africa, and then its companies follow.

That hasn't worked out too well for them.

The reason no other country wanted to fund these projects, is because they have a history of defaulting on those loans. Additionally, these projects are a wound that doesn't stop bleeding. China has to continue pouring money in them for maintenance and upkeep too.

Unless China's goal is geopolitical neo-colonialism, I do not see any of their international infrastructure projects paying off any time soon.

They're playing a long game, and yes, that may well be their goal.

Not sure why you are being downvoted. China is clearly the one investing in foreign countries now, for instance see belt & road initiative. It is also clearly conpeting with US, with Trump administration exacerbating the conflict.

Even if you don't like China, you should not pretend they are a in a weaker position than they are.

The belt and road initiative is heavily hyped but hasn't resulted in any real concrete shift in trade. China is still making its money the old way - through massive amount of exports to advanced economies.

you should check one-belt-one-road again. it haven't bring any fruits that China is hoping for.

China is aging. while India have plenty of young cheap labors. its only natural for companies want India's labors and market.

The point is that they arent sitting around waiting for foreign investment, they are now the ones making foreign investment. The paradigm has shifled.

Its certainly debatable whether belt and road is successfull, but I have recently recieved package from China to UK by Rail so at least some good came of it.

Also the countries China is investing in were neglected by West and wall street for decades.

China is an heavily export oriented economy losing access to the markets of the advanced economies day-by-day. Their play is to pivot into a consumer market before their foreign reserves eventually dries up, but that's hindered by the large population.

It's largely a co-dependent relationship at this point, the advanced economies are as dependent on Chinese goods as China is on foreign currency, meanwhile China is actively developing future foreign currency revenue streams through long-term investment in developing economies.

>It's largely a co-dependent relationship at this point, the advanced economies are as dependent on Chinese goods as China is on foreign currency

The advanced economies are dependant on cheap goods, and not specifically Chinese goods. This will become more and more clear as decoupling gains pace. Corporate Japan has largely decoupled from China, with SK following close behind. US, Taiwan and European outfits are next.

China, however, is truly dependent on exports to advanced economies to sustain its economic and political model at its current stage of development. Its population is just too large.

> pivot into a consumer market

> hindered by the large population.

This just doesn't make any sense.

Simply put, there is not enough wealth inside China to sustain growth with such a large population.

Having a large population doesn't automatically result in a viable consumption based economy.

I don't think China has really "blown" it in the sense that they wanted foreign expansion and investment but failed. The Chinese had always wanted a homegrown tech industry, and they are pretty successfully at that.

Seems like a headline grabbing thing in the current geopolitical context. They are stating $10B in the next 5-7 years. Quite sure a company like Google would have a spend like that earmarked from way before in one of the big emerging markets like India. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google all have been working towards this for a while now.

Agreed. For context, Google spent $8.5B buying back its own stock in the first quarter of 2020. They could invest $10B immediately, if they so desired.

Yeah, for a country this large 10B is snall potatoes

India is probably China of xx years ago, with a lot more protections. I understand that India is no perfect democracy and corruption exists, but it still wants to act as a democracy.

India is more democratic than even USA. Case in point Arvind Kejriwal and multiple such leaders. Anyone can form a party and contest the elections and actually have a fighting chance to govern India, can the same be said about the USA?

Maybe there is a case to be made here, and maybe you can make a convincing one given more time. However, as it stands there's a world of difference between the rise to (local) power of someone like Kejriwal and the claim that India is more democratic than the US. That is a rather specific feature that, even if true, is neither sufficient nor required to be democratic.

Why is the burden of proof on the poster arguing that India is more democratic rather than the side arguing that US is more democratic?

India is the world's largest democracy, has a multi-party system, has had prime ministers from different religions, and both men and women top leaders. The US on the other hand has only had Christian leaders (4 have technically not specified), and all men. It's also a 2-party system. The burden of proof here for this statement needs to be on the one claiming that US is more democratic.

The greatest challenge for the rise of India is the colonialistic mindset of many (but not all) Indians today. Hold yourselves equal and ask for you what you rightfully deserve.

> Why is the burden of proof on the poster arguing that India is more democratic rather than the side arguing that US is more democratic?

Because they made the claim, and I found this claim more unconventional and potentially more interesting to draw out than the claims in the comment they replied to. There was no conscious hidden agenda here. If someone (on whatever side of this discussion) makes a novel claim, they should be expected to provide a reasonable rationale, or otherwise expect that it will be questioned or just disregarded.

cvlasdkv 21 days ago [flagged]

It is only a "novel" claim in America, where America must be the best of everything.

The novelty of the claim really wasn't my main point, nor was trying to make the US out to be the most democratic country. I don't even live there, and it certainly isn't just in the US that this claim would be seen as novel or unconventional. One would think someone who points out the ignorance of "Americans" would not resort to using it themselves in the same discussion.

See the Democracy Index, which rates the US as rather more democratic than India and has at least some semblance of a loose methodology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index

Please stop posting unsubstantive comments and/or flamebait.

It is fairly routine for foreign companies to tout ther investments into their host countries’ economies. The headline figure is usually chosen for its marketing value rather than to fit any kind of GAAP definition.The real investment levels may not always match.

It's hard to know what's going on here.

Will it actually be 10bn? Only time will tell...

Doing what (sales, dev, support, research)? Is this new productive activity or just outsourcing?

Why? Is this hedging the risks of China sanctions/user rejection? or the risks of Indian nationalism? or honestly wanting a more local input on the Indian market/economy? or a moral decision given China going from bad to worse? Is it just outsourcing to a low cost country? A mix of all these?

Reading the faff, it sounds like they're selling this in a similar way to Google fibre: we'll invest to inspire/shame others into doing their job and also to create a market by showing people what is available.

Interestingly I imagine 10bn USD goes a long long way in India. So this could be a huge boon for some local areas of India, so that's nice.

My Guess is datacenter, as it is quite long time since Indian gov want google,fb etc to have local data local.

First Facebook invests $6bn in India with Jio and now Google. There is a lot of potential in the growing Indian consumer base.

- 2nd most populated country on the internet

- english speaking is wide spread

- adoption towards 'an app for everything' has grown substantially in the past decade.

So far, I think Google has invested in FreshWorks and Dunzo. I don't think there was a lot of active participation so far, this might change now.

How do I read a Techcrunch article without going through guce.advertising.com/collectIdentifiers first?

Here's the Times of India, anyway: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/google-to...

My DNS-level ad blocking trips on TC articles as well, so your solution of using some other site, that doesn't hate its users is the correct one.

IMHO, such garbage should be filtered from HN.

> How do I read a Techcrunch article without going through guce.advertising.com/collectIdentifiers first?

Use Outline: https://outline.com/zWtBay

Nature of these investments seems to be somewhat different. These investment are more towards infrastructure, rural skilling, education etc.

There were couple of ministers who were part of the announcement (unlike other corporate investment announcement like that of recent FB one, where govt officials would never make an appearance); one of the ministers even extorted Google to adopt cluster of villages and make them 'Digital' ones.


This $10 Billion (!) investment is not in the same league as that of FB, Intel, Saudi investment in Reliance Jio.

If Google has agreed to store user data locally/share it with the government in exchange for favourable policies/government turning a blind eye to its monopolistic position, its a very cheap price for what would be basically a win-win deal for both parties. The product i.e. extremely price-sensitive average Indian voter/consumer doesn't care much about privacy anyway.

I suggest this is nothing less than a play to control India's core infrastructure, the first truly digital economy ala the WEF's 4th revolution. The challenge will be how monopolistic this is and how democratic imo


'Google said its “India Digitization Fund” would be spread over five to seven years, focusing on affordable internet access, new product development tailored to Indian market needs and accelerating digital transformation, as well as healthcare, education and agriculture. India, with its 1.3bn population, represents one of the biggest opportunities for tech companies globally after hundreds of millions of Indians started using smartphones and accessing the internet in recent years. Google Pay, the company’s digital payments service, has grown rapidly since launching in the country in 2017'.

Between Apple and Google investing heavily in facilities in India, I wonder if this is the writing on the wall that is the start of building up outsourced H1-b teams in economical state-of-the-art headquarters while they transition down their real estate footprint in the Bay Area in the wake of the 'new normal' way of remote working due to Covid-19.

Any predictions for the next 10 years if this will be a threat to on-shore devs considering the braindrain occurring at the direction of our president's myopic leadership and executive orders?

I don't understand. If they decide to hire more in India they won't need H-1Bs any more.

Also, presidential cycles are short. A four-year presidency is simply not long enough to cause massive brain drain to be a threat for anything. But if the next administration continues to be myopic, I can see that trickle of brain drain turn into a torrent.

"I don't understand. If they decide to hire more in India they won't need H-1Bs any more."

That's exactly the point I was trying to make, that the former H-1B individuals will be hired to work at these new facilities in their homeland instead of bringing them to the bay area, as they no longer have physical working spaces here due to Covid-19 office closures and remote WFH for the foreseeable future.

Tech companies can then divest their expensive bay area real estate and shrink their HQ footprints to be a more global workforce and at the same time establish themselves in India and create custom hardware fabs away from Shenzhen and China, with lower cost savings of labor in India.

This will lower their H-1B hiring and talent acquisition costs drastically and the best and most talented H-1B's can instead work from the comfort of their home countries (e.g. India).


But "this will increase salaries by reducing supply" is the common narrative on HN that one cannot fight.

Reasoning bottoms-up, you are right. This will reduce Bay Area footprint, and will allow good talent to join at lower costs. Couple this with top Indian talent in US not being treated fairly (most Indian immigrants have to wait 4-5 decades before being eligible for a green card even at Google / FB / etc..). The future for the Bay Area may not be as bright as the last 15 years. I certainly hope this isn't the case since I have a vested interest in the Bay Area but I do think longer term this is going to be the outcome though.. :(

Reasoning ground-up is not the faint of hear though. Most people want to extrapolate the world from the recent past based on their personal self-serving biases.

Thank, I'm also invested in this area. I am trying to arm myself with knowledge to possibly correct course and be as realistic as possible in the next 5 - 10+ years out.

I have mixed feelings about this one, having seen their Capital G investment portfolios before. Let's hope they actually make an impact with this one.

Now let's begin with an analysis: This is the only company in their portfolio doing anything very relevant to helping India: https://ayefin.com/our-products/ The rest are profitable companies - but not like helping Indian economies or anything serving a very large amount of people. It's a micro finance model, very helpful to India (helping businessmen and farmers avoid some terrible loan sharks), however it's a business, not a charity.

Now let's talk motivations. FB recently invested in Jio, and I'm quite sure this was their most successful investment, after the 'Free Basics' idea fell through and all people protested against OTT services being subsidized and the idea of net neutrality. Now, it is well known that if you control the wire, you control the internet. You control the relevance of a website, it's advertising potential and finally, it's net revenue.

FB may have gotten some sweet insider deal from Jio, so Google may now be running helter-skelter to not become the loser in the big picture. Unless Sundar Pitchai got a boost of Indian patriotism and decided to help India, like shown in some recent movies (highly doubt it).

I mean, if they had already done something to boost small startups and create value for India, they had a 12+ year lead, lots of people - and they could have done something. But they did not. Maybe now they'll try to join forces with some telco (Airtel/Vodafone) or something, who knows.

I doubt that kind of money will ever help regular Indians become better or enhance their quality of life. Unless they turned a new leaf, let's hope so.

End Rant

Hope India is not the second China, where they are invested and destroyed when being strong because of threatening America's position.

India is generally more culturally and politically similar to the west than China. Unless they decide to embark on some unexpected imperialist conquest, I don’t think they’ll have such an active movement to divest from them in the future.

India is so culturally dissimilar to the USA that it's almost laughable to suggest that they are similar. I'm not trying to be adversarial; I just don't see any logical basis -- aside from a few years of anglophone rule -- for your premise.

The parts of culture that matter to business is a small subset of the whole culture. For businesses India may as well be a western country. They speak English (we can ignore the exceptions just like we ignore the few Germans who don't speak English), they have similar rules of law, so contracts will work.

Businesses don't care about anything you do at home, which is most of where the culture is different.

OP said more similar as opposed to "completely similar" which you are implying.

India definitely is more of a western country when compared to China

For the context —- the framework to rule India was constructed by the British. While it’s easy to focus on the political structure, it should be noted that the day to day work is carried out by the bureaucratic apparatus, which was put in place by the British.

Institutions such as civil services, education framework, public works department, court, corporate laws, penal code etc are all from the British era, carried forward post independence with minimal change if at all.

It is this bureaucratic structure that makes India work and any work needs to make it’s way through this to get implemented. Whatever politicians promise is largely irrelevant, by and large because they’ve been known to get lost in this labyrinth of bureaucracy.

The Indian version of British comedy “Yes Minister” was quite popular in India, for a good reason as Indian could relate to it .

So yes, Indian ruling structure is definitely closer to “West” than to China. But we could be more specific and say it’s close to British, because they were the ones who put it in place to begin with.

OP's comment is right there above mine; I haven't obscured it.

The premise of OP's argument is that India is more similar to the West than is China. The conclusion is that relative similarity will impede a future push by the West to divest from Indian manufacturing. There's a bit of a switcheroo in that argument, because the conclusion is only weakly supported by the premise. The strength of the argument depends on a comparative advantage in India-Western similarity versus Sino-Western similarity.

I don't agree that India is more of a Western country than China, apart from the influence of British rule. Think about cultural norms, religious thinking, political philosophy, racial discrimination, and women's rights in India. Would you describe these aspects of India as "Western"? China is arguably a more capitalist country than India; does that mean it is more "Western"?

Even if India were "more similar" to the West than China, it is so dissimilar from the West that it is totally within the realm of reason that the China manufacturing quagmire could be replaced by an equivalent India quagmire within a decade or two.

Both countries are faraway, populous, third-world regional powers with nuclear weapons and territorial disputes. They are more similar to each other than either of them is to the West.

There exist many third-world nations that are smaller (thus easier to influence) and closer to home (thus easier to defend in times of insecurity). If we have to invest in creating a new manufacturing hub in a place that will inevitably profit handsomely from our consumer demand, there is little sense in repeating the mistakes of the past and putting that hub in a massive Asian nation with which we have little in common.

As one who has traveled to rural India and experienced the culture shock, I can still say that India and the US are more similar than India and China.

The systems of government, economic engines, individualism vs. collectivism are all well-aligned.

The US will act against any threats to their position.

Although India has the potential to be a threat, so far it hasn't been and the more the US can invest in India and 'own' large swathes of key industries the better for the US but someday India may wake up to the fact that their economy is, or can be, larger than the US's and start acting accordingly.

China PR makes me question a lot of things. For example, I’ve always been told that protectionism doesn’t work but with the great firewall it seems to work just fine in China PR. How do I explain it?

Protectionism only works in specific situations. For example you have a competent workforce and instead of making them work in a foreign country because that's where the multinational companies are, you introduce protectionist policies to keep them in your country. Getting to this point requires decades of focused efforts. You don't just introduce protectionism and get results automatically. Protectionism doesn't work because you have to make it work.

It's a bait and switch. Get foreign investors to build companies in your country. Let them pay for training. Children can now go to school and university. They become adults and gain experience during their job. They now want to leave the country for higher incomes (jackpot). Then finally give them a reason to stay. The Chinese government has amassed an insane amount of money and growth during their business friendly periods and is now able to deploy it for protectionist measures.

The reason why protectionism is a bad idea is that it's commonly used in incompetent governments that are prone to corruption before the country is ready. They instate the protectionism before the country has formed a competitive industry. The end result is that consumers have to pay hefty tariffs on foreign products that are almost impossible to replicate domestically like GPUs or CPUs. Alternatively consumers are stuck with inferior domestic products because there is no reason for the domestic monopoly to improve without competition.

> The Chinese government has amassed an insane amount of money and growth during their business friendly periods and is now able to deploy it for protectionist measures.

Saying this, you need to mention just how fast they burn that money.

I once did a contract for a company that participated in a $1.9B OBOR project, where $600M managed to vanish into thin air, $150M was outright stolen, and the remaining $1B never materialised.

The procurator office of the country managed so far to recover $460M from all over the world from the missing $600M.

The most shocking out of the whole story was how the Chinese side reacted. Their stance was like "You "lost" $600M, and so what? We have more"....

Protectionism doesn't work as well as more open policies. That doesn't mean that it doesn't work. For China the open policy includes things that are against their other goals and so isn't an option.

> Let them pay for training

Mind you they are making a profit, not running a charity

Protectionism works when you're weak and try to develop your own industry (all East Asian countries followed that path). Protectionism hinders you if you're strong and try to penetrate other countries' markets. Protectionism is often detrimental to consumers.

Nothing is black and white.

East Asian development was not based on protectionism, it was based on providing goods/services for export (even when "weak") which requires openness to competition on a global scale. Protectionism was tried in Latin America and even in India prior to the 1980s and 1990s, and it has consistently been a failure.

Please read your history, protectionism enabled the US to rise out of the dirt and become an industrialised nation at the time when British Empire dominated world stage. This is not even a subjective matter.

Tariff rates were used for government revenue at that time, that's why they had to be high. It had nothing to do with endorsing protectionism per se, and the U.S. got an income tax later on to fix this issue.

Are you arguing protectuonism was unintentional, or that it was ineffective?

Exporting relies on the destination markets being open, not yours.

Domestic markets were kept relatively closed in order to foster development of local industry and companies.

Yes. Import substitution protectionist policies have been an ongoing disaster for Brazil and Argentina for nearly a century now. What countries like South Korea did was quite different.

The great firewall of China came because China wanted to police US social media operating in China but weren't able to. That it acted as a major enabler for China's own social media boom is (at least initially) an unintended side-effect.

It is certainly not unintended.

Even without their will to control information for political purposes they would have not allowed such a key industry to be controlled by foreign players, and they have a strategy of creating a strong national industry in all sectors.

The ban of Facebook in 2009 was clearly a result of the Chinese authorities not being able to stop the spread of "misinformation" which they saw as a major factor in the Xinjiang riots of that year.

It's part of a comprehensive strategy that includes creating domestic companies.

It works a lot better when your domestic market is a billion people and your local companies can feasibly improve their manufacturing capability fast enough to serve it adequately.

Why did India have to open its market to The Coca Cola Company and PepsiCo? I think Indian market is big enough. Moreover, we know the nature of these companies (there was a recent post where the comments said all the local brands dissolved into the multinational corporations once the multinationals entered the market.

Is it simply that The Coca Cola Company and PepsiCo have better lobbying than Google/Amazon?

The Indian market is evidently big enough for homegrown cola brands (as in much smaller countries) but ultimately you have to question how much the Indian economy would benefit from special legislation to force its consumers to buy cola owned by a local oligarch rather than a foreign plc. Since the manufacturing and distribution jobs for the Indian supply chain are all in India either way and making sugary carbonated water isn't something which takes time to learn offering massive future opportunities, the argument for protecting fizzy drinks isn't very strong. Protecting your own industries can keep some domestic spend within the country, but it also tends to reduce foreign investment, lower the product quality/choice and deter exports, unless and until you start developing major strengths in the areas your govt protects.

India's present economic strengths and growth opportunities are in its ability to carry out work in the English language and IT sector for a wealthier multinational market: it's not a good bet especially not in the short run to sacrifice those opportunities to try to get Indians to mainly use Indian manufactures. Which is also why you have Google India and Amazon India. China didn't really have that same level of opportunity even if they'd pursued complete economic openness that's entirely alien to their political culture. And most countries smaller than China have been highly selective about which industries and resources they protect and for good reason.

They don't have to, but it saves them the bother of learning to make their own.

Check out the book - Bad Samaritans. Most economies need degrees of protectionism to develop industry.

Something working fine for the Chinese government doesn't mean it's working fine for the citizens too. Their technology model is completely void of privacy. Many in the West won't consider it as working fine.

I think it will be more like US/UK relationship. China had a good chance to be like US if they would have been politically liberal, though I don't think they would have been so well off economically since political instability is costly.

India's governance is a derivative of UK, so most likely just like UK with a 20 times bigger market.

This is just a PR announcement with no specific timeline or even a plan.

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