The Billionaire Raj with James Crabtree

The Billionaire Raj with James Crabtree
James Crabtree discussed the major themes behind his new book "The Billionaire Raj" and the intrinsic links between India's business and political ecosystem.

James Crabtree, associate professor in practice at the Lee Kuan Yee School of Public Policy joined us in a conversation to discuss his new book “The Billionaire Raj: A Journey through India’s New Gilded Age” and what it means for where India will move in the next decade. We discussed the major themes of the book and the intrinsic links between the political and business ecosystem across the country. As we progressed our conversation from the interesting Ambani family and Reliance Group, we shift our conversation to the current technology ecosystem in India where it is an open economy that are at the crossroads with US & China technology giants. Last but not least, James offered his perspectives to where India is heading for the future.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • James Crabtree (@jamescrabtree , LinkedIn, Personal Site), Author of “The Billionaire Raj” and Associate Professor in Practice at the LKY School of Public Policy [0:25]
    • How did you start your career? [0:44]
    • Within your career journey as an editor and academic, what are the interesting lessons you can share with my audience? [2:11]
    • What is your current role in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy? [3:32]
    • James’ recent article: “Crazy Rich Asians and the face of the one per cent” [4:54]
  • The Billionaire Raj: “A Journey through India’s New Gilded Age” [7:06]
    • What inspire you to work on the book? [7:30]
    • What are the major themes or lessons that you want the audience to learn from the book? [9:13]
    • From reading the book, the business world has a lot of intrinsic links to the political world, can you talk about how the business ecosystem has evolved with respect to the political system since its independence to today, and the new gilded age in India which you describe in the book? [11:39]
    • The book began with the Ambani family, who controlled the Reliance Group, an Indian conglomerate headquartered in Navi Mumbai India, can you introduce the story of Reliance founded by Dhirubhai Ambani followed by his two sons who are major characters in India business world today, Mukesh and Anil Ambani and why their feud forced the whole of India to take sides? [14:55]
    • Does the title of the book “The Billionaire Raj” refer to the Ambani family? [19:03]
    • Given that Infosys emerged in late 1990s to early 2000s as an champion of tech outsourcing, why has it not create a generation of Internet entrepreneurs? [20:08]
    • Thoughts on the success of Indian CEOs in US companies [22:47]
    • Sometime around 2013, the India technology startup ecosystem has started to emerge and recently Flipkart has been acquired by Walmart, and Paytm is backed by Ant Financial and SoftBank, will the new titans of the India business world emerge from this new tech boom? [25:39]
    • A lot of people look at India as the next major market after China. China has its BAT and now TMD, do you think that India will have their own homegrown champions given that it is such an open market where the US companies such as Facebook and Google are in the market without the strong regulation faced when they are in China? [27:40]
    • Both US and China tech giants have entered India with major investments and competing for the India customer. The US companies prefer to build their own such as Amazon and Google while the Chinese companies invest in the local champions. In the longer term, whose approach will win the war? [30:22]
    • What will be the way forward for India to bridge the current inequality between the rich and the poor? [32:34]
  • Closing [35:14]

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong & weibo) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack.