In 2012, a report from the London School of Economics called India “the next superpower.” The document stated, “India has been one of the world’s best-performing economies for a quarter of a century, lifting millions out of poverty and becoming the world’s third-largest economy in PPP terms. India has tripled its defense expenditure over the last decade to become one of the top ten military spenders.” The report praised India’s efforts to “cultivate an attractive global image of social and cultural dynamism” in contrast to other emerging Asian nations.
According to crypto guru and former Stanford professor Balaji Srinivasan, India will be the “dark horse of this decade...People just don’t understand how big a deal it’s going to be.”
Known for his accurate prediction of the coronavirus pandemic, Srinivasan discussed geopolitics, crypto, and the future on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. A Californian of Indian origin, he may be rooting for the land of his ancestors, but he has arguments aplenty.
First, let’s look at the numbers. Since the turn of the century, India’s average annual GDP growth has been approximately 7 percent. Between 2014 and 2018, India surpassed China, becoming the fastest-growing major economy in the world. Despite the pandemic’s catastrophic effects, its annual GDP growth is expected to remain above 7 percent until 2025.
According to Srinivasan, who made Coindesk’s Most Influential 2020 list, globalization and the Internet catalyzed India’s spectacular growth. Since crypto is a combination of both, it is only natural that India should become a leader in the blockchain space. Though the Indian government has been threatening to ban crypto, the former Coinbase CTO believes it won’t. “If you look at the very latest reports,” he told Ferriss, “that is now being rethought.”
Back in February, the influential crypto prognosticator published an article titled “Why India should buy Bitcoin.” In it, he advocated for the creation of a digital-gold-backed digital rupee. “India should champion decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum,” he wrote, “to safeguard national security, prevent de-platforming, attract international capital, strengthen monetary policy, deter financial fraud, accelerate technological development, and hasten India’s ascendance as a global power.” If India bans crypto, he said, it will repel “a trillion dollars in crypto capital from coming to India in the first place.”
Srinivasan hopes India will legalize and regulate crypto as opposed to banning it altogether. After all, the emerging superpower already banned and unbanned crypto in 2018. According to Balaji, that temporary ban slowed the process of crypto adoption in India. “Only like 10 million people have it...which is small for a relatively large country,” he said.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, while everyone else was obsessed with American politics, Srinivasan says, India “brought 400 million people online.” With fast, cheap Internet access, booming remote work, and crypto-facilitated international payments, “India has the opportunity to have 400 million people suddenly start doing all these remote jobs that they’re newly qualified for with their phones,” he predicts. This, in turn, will translate into millions of new remittance sources.
Internationally competitive in fields like computer science, finance, engineering, and medicine, Indians can now do these types of jobs over the Internet and get paid in crypto with minimal friction. Meanwhile, “America’s blowing up the Middle East and China is building colonies in Africa.” This is a perfect scenario for India to get behind crypto and become the world’s top software hub, Srinivasan argues.
Potential Benefits of Crypto Adoption for India
- Strategic for national security
- Rising remittance volume
- Rising remote work volume
- Opportunities for media expansion
While China and the U.S. (and their respective allies) focus on trade wars, Indians can work across borders. Bajali believes his forefathers’ country can become a “kind of a peacemaker.” The West’s capital is declining, communist capital is fundamentally flawed, which creates an opportunity for India to thrive. “India could be crypto capital...the center of the decentralized movement which is maybe the most powerful of the three because there are sympathizers of crypto in both the US and China, millions of people,” he argues passionately.
Srinivasan sees crypto as an ideological, transnational movement, an international capitalist movement. “The orange coin is like the global symbol of freedom and prosperity...The orange coin is both freedom, being able to transact with whoever you want, to say what you want, freedom from surveillance, speaking your mind, not being de-platformed, not being censored.”
If crypto does catapult India to the superpowers’ podium, in the process, India will likely catapult crypto to global adoption. And if the country’s plans to ban crypto are effectively abandoned, Srinivasan will be—for the umpteenth time—entitled to say, “I told you so.”