California is the 6th Largest Economy

sz234California has overtaken France as the world’s sixth-largest economy, reports Bloomberg.

  • California GDP of $2.5 trillion. Larger than France. Much larger than India.
  • Population (million):
    California       30
    France             66
    India             1300
  • California is home to four of the world’s 10 largest corporations, including Alphabet Inc (Google) and Facebook.

Within California itself, the mega-region known as No-Cal (northern California) which includes San Francisco, San Jose (my fair city), Oakland, Berkeley,  Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and a dozen other metros in and around the SF Bay area. Its GDP is around $900 billion, among the world’s twenty largest economies.

(Source. The Dozen Regional Powerhouses Driving the U.S. Economy. The Boston-Washington corridor, home to 18 percent of Americans, produces more economic activity than Germany.)

The No-Cal mega-region is home to 13 million people, or one percent of India’s population. Its GDP is around half that of India. Which means the per capita GDP of No-Cal is 50 times that of India.

India is falling far behind China. The two countries were neck and neck in 1978. Now China’s GDP is 5x India’s GDP. In another 20 years, it could be 10x India. I fear that India’s GDP in a few years — well within our lifetime — could well be smaller than one single mega-region of China.

India has fallen behind China not because Indians are stupid. Indians prosper well enough in all the mega-regions of the US. India is not impoverished by natural disasters. Rampaging foreign forces have not devastated India’s economy. Look at it anyway you want, you cannot escape the conclusion that India’s poverty directly follows from the policies that its governments have followed.

As I have argued before, the present government led by Shri Modi had an awesome opportunity to free India from the government-forged chains that have held it imprisoned for so long. That opportunity is being squandered.

As I say, it’s all karma. It means this: that you have the freedom to take the actions you take. Actions have inescapable consequences. You are free to choose but you are not free to choose the consequences.

India has some very bad karma. It’s falling behind relative to other large countries because of bad policies. These are made by policymakers — the politicians and bureaucrats — who are either ignorant and/or malignant.

I also say that life’s a random draw. It means that luck plays the most significant part in every aspect of life. The genes that we inherit are not chosen by us. They are a random draw that dictate our nature, and thus partly our destiny.

Where we are born is not chosen by us. That’s pure luck. Being born in Somalia or Bihar leads to quite different life outcomes compared to being born in Switzerland or California.  Our nurture is location based. Luck is thus involved both in our nature and our nurture — which together determine what we end up becoming.

So does it mean that there’s no escape from the rut that India is mired in? Actually there is. But that’s a matter for another post.

[Hat tip to my friend Rajan Parrikar for the link to the Bloomberg article.]

Author: Atanu Dey


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