Shruti Rajagopalan, who writes the Substack blog Get Down and Shruti, predicts that the country will be a global sources of IT talent, and that the U.S. is committing hari-kari because it is so hard for Indians to migrate here. Excerpts:
At present, both India and China have 1.43 billion people. The difference is that while China will depopulate and age over the next forty years, during the same time, India will add the same number of people China loses, over a quarter of a billion.
Globally, one in five people below 25 is from India. 47% of Indians, about 650 million, are below the age of 25. This group of young Indians has some unique characteristics.
First, they have grown up in a market economy, post-command-and-control socialism. Two-thirds of Indians were born after the 1991 big bang reforms and have not experienced rationing and long lines for essential goods (other than episodic shortages during Covid). They have lived in an India that has averaged about 6 percent annual growth for three decades. They have access to global goods and content, and this generation of Indians wants and expects to compete with the world.
Second, a large proportion of these young Indians have grown up with access to the internet, with more coming online each year. Close to two-thirds of the population has access to a smartphone, and by 2040, it will be over 95% of Indians. Indians have access to some of the cheapest mobile data plans in the world, and charges are $0.17 per gigabyte on average, with plans as low as 5 cents per gigabyte.
Third, compared to their parents and grandparents, this generation of Indians has grown up exposed to some English, though only the rich with elite education have native-level fluency.
Another difference compared to previous generations is India’s growing number of entrepreneurs and the vibrant startup culture.
Indians will be the largest pool of global talent. Barring immigration restrictions or diversity quotas, in the next few decades, Indian students will form the single largest international student cohort at most top universities in the English-speaking world.
Universities should plan for the future, hire and engage scholars working on India more seriously, start programs and centers focused on India to understand its political economy and culture better, have more papers on India in their top journals, and publish more books on India through their university press.
The single largest pool of talent will be STEM graduates. American and British labor markets face a massive shortage of STEM graduates, usually filled by foreign-born/trained students
The US has a particularly bad immigration system where Indians are concerned. First, the US issues too few work visas relative to the demand generated by US firms, especially for highly skilled STEM talent from large countries like India and China.
During the tech boom in the nineties, Indians easily moved to Silicon Valley and rose to the top. Top STEM talent today is reluctant to move to the US and deal with immigration problems for decades. The UK, Canada, or founding their own start-up in India, are far more appealing. Given changing global demographics, the country caps obstructing Indian talent is hara-kiri for the US labor market and innovation.
This is also bizarre as a policy preference, given that highly skilled Indian immigrants have an excellent track record of assimilating, are often considered the model immigrant community, have an incredible track record of leading blue-chip American companies, and are dubbed “The Other One Percent.” If nothing changes and Indian talent cannot easily flow to the US, in a few decades, US capital and US firms will move to India.
Countries that are depopulating, like Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Portugal, and Japan, should seriously think about attracting young Indian talent to settle permanently.
English is the 44th most spoken language in India (at native-level fluency). Only about 1.5 million Indians speak English as their first language. But about 15-20 million have relatively high levels of English fluency as a second language, and another 200 million can understand basic English.