Untold Stories: Rajeev Chandrasekhar on India's Views of Crypto

Rajeev Chandrasekhar is a member of the Indian Parliament and a billionaire. Five years into helping retool the Indian government, Rajeev talks about

  • How technology is changing life in India and the world

  • How the crypto revolution is well underway

  • Parallels between the 1980s early internet and early crypto

  • Dealing with “anti-innovators,”

  • The benefits of self-regulation before government regulation

  • How India is moving toward regulatory and legal frameworks for crypto and privacy.

Charlie Shrem
Hey everyone, this is Charlie Shrem, and you're listening to Untold Stories. This is a show where we dive deep into the lives and personal histories of some of crypto's most influential leaders and find out how the crypto movement truly came to be. Let's dive in, I'm super excited that eToro is sponsoring Untold Stories, because the CEO of eToro has been tweeting about Bitcoin since 2012, that's true OG. Now, eToro has become one of the largest crypto companies in the world with $1 Trillion in trading volume per year. US customers can trade the most popular crypto assets with extraordinarily low and transparent fees. And, if you're not ready to trade yet, practice building your crypto portfolio with the eToro $100,000 virtual trading feature.

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We have a very special guest today, Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar Chandrasekhar, did I pronounce that right?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
That's perfect.

Charlie Shrem
Excellent. I worked hard this morning, by the way, I always want to make sure that I'm pronouncing everything correctly.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Super.

Charlie Shrem
Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Glad to be here.

Charlie Shrem
I want to give our listeners a very brief overview of who you are, you're an internet... You're an Indian politician and entrepreneur, you're a member of Parliament in the upper-house. And, you're a member of the Baharatia Janata Party, which is this party in power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, you're also, not only are you a member of Parliament, but you're one of the most famous entrepreneurs in India. You're on various committees, like the Committee of Finance, the standing Committee of Defense that I read here. And you're the Founder and Chairman of Junior Capital Limited, that owns a lot of Media Companies in India. It's safe to say that you know a little bit about the internet and how it works.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Yep, I think so. Yeah, and I think I started off as a tech entrepreneur and I came back to India from the Silicon Valley, where I had a stint with Intel. And, I built one of the earlier cellular companies, cellular mobile companies in the country. So, I kind of know what it is to build something out in unconnected markets, and to, sort of deliver connectivity to people, who are sort of lacking it.

Charlie Shrem
You said a quote earlier before you started recording. Can you repeat that?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Yeah, you know, I like saying this, in 2014, when Prime Minister Modi first, assumed office, on the back of fairly strong mandate. And he was, one of the politicians that I looked up to because he was very invested in the idea of technology and governance. And, essentially this inter-mediating people from the conventional bureaucratic framework. So, I remember saying that India represented a great story, because it was one of the fastest growing markets, in terms of connectivity and connecting people, but at the same time it remained one of the largest unconnected markets. Where a large number of Indians, and in 2014 it was almost 850-odd Million Indians. That remained outside of the internet and just lacked the basic connectivity and the ability to come online.

Charlie Shrem
Looking at the policies of Prime Ministry Modi, and what has been worked on over the past few years, it seems like, and tell me if I'm wrong, it seems like his mandate, and what you guys as a party, what you're really focused on is giving people freedom, is giving people the ability to connect to each other for information, but also to grow business-wise and to give individuality, and more growth for the people of India.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
And, that is absolutely correct. And, I just go further and say, you know if, from a point of view, India, we've been a democracy for like 75 years now, coming on to 75 years. And, it boggles the mind that even after 70, 75 years of independence, there's 400-Million-odd Indians that still lived in poverty. And, they were very clearly outside of the... falling outside the government system. A lot of this was because of the conventional legacy architecture of how government was structured. Which is, you had people sitting in these offices, far away from population centers, and they were taking policy decisions, in a lot of ways, unconnected to what people were really going through.

And, technology and Prime Minister Modi, said this in 2013, before he became Prime Minister then, he believed that a nation as large as India is, and diverse as India is, as populated as India, can only address and the promise of delivering governance to each and every Indian, if you use technology significantly, in the process of governing. So, what technology has done is essentially take government and governance to the doorstep, if you may call it that, to a large population of Indians, who never experienced or who are to struggle to experience governance. So, I think, that is, in a way, delivering freedom, real freedom. While we go freedom 75 years ago from British, I think the real freedom individuality and the power of a democracy, is only now beginning to get to a lot of people, in large measure, due to the power of the internet, and the power of connectivity.

Charlie Shrem
How do you maintain though, small government, because that's... I've read that's what you, you know, your party, and the prime minister have talked about is, maintaining a small nimble government and so far, it's been successful. How do you do that in a country where the population is so large?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
So, look, I don't think, Charlie, I don't think I won't even pretend that we've reached the stage of creating a minimum government or a smaller footprint of the government just after five years. I think, Prime Minister Modi, and his team, and a lot of us are trying to re-architect the system of government, and of course, if you look at the history of India, we were, we became independent from the British, then we flirted with about six decades of quasi-socialist status model of governance that big government, government was everything. It owned airlines, it owned hotels, it owned everything under the sun, including delivering subsidies and benefits to the poor.

To restructure that and in a sense re-architect that footprint, is not something that is trivial, and that will just happen over night. I think, it's a process, I think technology is going to play a big role in how we take these big, large, bureaucratic organizations that have been sittings on silos of information, silos of knowledge, silos of data for many decades and sort of make them all work together for the benefit of giving faster, more responsive government. We're not there yet, but that is clearly the vision, and that is clearly the direction we're headed in. And, I think, we've made some early steps towards that, but I think it will take another 5-7 years for that whole restructuring and re-architecting, if you want to call it that, of government to complete.

Charlie Shrem
People think that we're in... A lot of people think that the internet revolution didn't happen until the early 2000s, a lot of people think that oh, the internet, cell phones, the internet wasn't really like penetrated or used in daily life until the late 90s, early 2000s and to some extent, that's true. But, realistically the ground work and the infrastructure for computers and the internet as we know it today, happen as early as the 80s. You worked for Intel in the United States, from the mid 80s 1985, to the early 90s, 1991, you were part of the senior design team, that actually, designed the Pentium Micro-processor, which is, everyone has heard of the Pentium Processor by Intel, do you kind of see parallels between the cryptocurrency space today, and the early, early, I mean early 80s of designing microprocessors and the computers and the internet?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Absolutely, I think, you know, the early days of the internet was all about... It was not commercial in any sense, it was really about innovation, it was about people from all across the country, the US of course, working together to build something that was exciting, you know, all the way to the early 90s, is when I left the Silicon Valley, and I came back to India to start cellular. The internet was something on the back of what we were all doing, as an enabler, but it was really still not evident to a lot of us about how powerful that was going to become. I mean, I remember using that for having chats with fellow microprocessor architects in the East Coast, sitting in the Valley and talking about, you know, pipeline microprocessors, and getting a lot of design ideas, but just collaborating on the internet.

But, the true power of the internet, in my opinion, really took off in the early 2000s as you said, when the commercial elements of that became very evident and obvious and a lot of capital started flowing into it, and that triggered off the next wave of innovations. Now, in crypto, I believe it's the same thing. I think, there has been... It started off as demonstration of innovation, you know, I can do this better than you, and a whole bunch of people coming together. And, it is in the... In my opinion, I mean, and I'm not an expert on crypto as much as you are, or so many of the other people who listen to this, but I sense that this is being built with a sense of an almost utopian view of creativity and innovation, and then of course, it's going off into different directions.

And, of course, now, with the awareness of the net and the dangers or the benefits and the benefits. The pushback to some of this is far earlier in the development of the crypto, in terms of the cycle, rather than be faced in the revolution of the internet. So, this is, in my opinion, it's not every different from where we were in the early 90s. But, it's the challenges and there regulatory involvement and the legal, I would say, trapdoors and challenges that it's going to go through, are far more complex at this early stage of its evolution, compared to let's say what the internet faced.

Charlie Shrem
It's a very good point, I never really thought of that, because a lot, you know, thank you for bringing that point, because a lot of people, and I'm one of them, I feel like I draw parallels to the early internet and I draw parallels to the early crypto space, but from what I understand, what you're saying is, the dangers, the trap doors, and the issues, that we have in the early crypto, need to be addressed now, instead of waiting, rather what the internet and the early, you know 80s and 90s, there was more time to kind of let things play out and see where they lead.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Exactly. And part of this is in the public policy space, in the space that is, let say, the anti-innovators, if you want to call it that, because government, which is the control guise, the awareness of, about the internet and things that are happening on the internet is far more evolved now, than let's say they were in the early 90s or the late 80s, so the regulators, you know, it's pretty clear that the FCC and all of those regulators that the US, or Europe, or even India when we started, we completely, I mean, they were absent even they weren't anywhere on the road on. And they just came into it when problems started popping up here and there.

But, in this case, in the crypto space, is given... There's almost like a perfect storm that is facing the growth and the innovation momentum of crypto. Which is, you have the law and order and the terrorism, and the cyber security concerns on one hand, and you have the particularly heightened awareness about the internet not being all good, and having some potential of these little evil pockets of sort of resting within them. And therefore, the regulators using that as justification to, sort of, snoop around or get more involved.

These two things are almost, almost causing an inevitable over intrusion, if you want to call it that, or almost sort of, a breaking, putting breaking effect, on what otherwise would have been, you know, faster growth, a lot more innovation that you see in the crypto space.

Charlie Shrem
You're right, there's definitely two sides to it, and so, there's a huge campaign right now in India. Called, India Wants Crypto, and it seems like on Twitter, it's gotten millions and millions of impressions. I think, the movement understands, well I hope they would understand, the position of the government needs to protect it's people, and it needs to protect consumers who are unaware, and yes, there are a lot of scams and there are, you know, black markets and domestic terrorism and things like that. But, I guess on their side, they're saying, how come the government hasn't decided to talk to us, to let us help you develop things. You know, self-regulatory bodies are really the ones that are the pre-cursor to a lot of regulations. I'm sure there weren't a lot of regulations when you'd brought cellular technology to India.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Absolutely.

Charlie Shrem
You developed your own regulations, and eventually the government adopted those regulations. Do you think that could happen in India, with crypto?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
So, here's the thing Charlie, you know we... In the entire cyber technology space, our policy framework and our ability architecture is really playing catch-up. It's not unusual for a country like ours...

Charlie Shrem
Yes.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
It's playing catch-up everywhere, but I think ours is playing catch-up. Now, one of the things, I don't know if you're aware, but I was the one who petitioned the supreme court amongst a few others, that privacy ought to be a fundamental right for all Indians. And, in 2016, the supreme court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right of all Indians. Now-

Charlie Shrem
Can you get the United States Supreme Court to understand that too? Because, we really need that.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Yeah, but in our case, when you say that fundamental right, it's subject to some restriction, those restrictions are usually defined by National Security exceptions, for example, if the government does have a legitimate case, and can prove to a court or an appropriate body that, privacy of that particular person can be breached, because it effects the larger public interest, that privacy right goes away. Or, sort of, it stands canceled. So, we have that, and we have obviously, all of the innovation that is represented by the entire rapidly growing crypto space. We are not in the process of moving towards, in my opinion, a legislative framework, and a legal framework. That will allow innovation to happen, that will allow people to collect data from consumers provided, consumers consent, and all of them. I'm mixing up crypto and privacy deliberately, because they don't have a policy framework.

Charlie, these things-

Charlie Shrem
They go hand in hand.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
They go hand in hand, yes. So, but, we have to address the big, the big sort of elephant in the room, which is the issue of access that the government will seek on these national security, you know, for reasons. So, that is where privacy and crypto and that is where we are now in the middle of this discussion evolving. What are those exceptions and how can the government's national security agencies be provided access to material, that they believe are material in the larger public interest. So that conversation is underway, and I suspect that the crypto guise in India will be part of that conversation.

I just finished, for example, over the last three weeks, a detailed round table consultation with pretty much every stakeholder, the large technology company, the small start-ups, the foreign companies, asking them, their view about this issue of data localization, because there is... For example, a view that all of those that harvest data within consumers, must keep that data in India, and not-

Charlie Shrem
I agree.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
In servers across, whichever, you know China, or wherever. And, the data, the movement of that data should be very effectively regulated. Now, these are all conversations that are underway today, so we have on... Like I said, we have on one hand the national security folks, the people who really believe genuinely and passionately that the country must be secure and therefore, that should drive public policy making and that should drive everything. And then, you have on the other side, the innovators. I personally believe that these should not be 180-degrees, you know differentiated in phase. There's no... I believe strongly that these two can be on the same side, provided we work out a mutually acceptable way of accessing that data. And mutually acceptable in the sense, and legally consistent way of accessing data in these emergencies, national security emergencies and so that community underway.

Charlie Shrem
Yep. I think the crypto community, which is growing and India has the power to be one of the largest crypto, it already is, so, I've already been working for years, and I think India has the potential power to be the largest and most innovative crypto industry in the world, because you know, a lot of people are leaving the united states, and are leaving Europe and going to a lot of countries in Southeast Asia, and a lot of people are moving to India as well. And, so, you wrote, back in December, you wrote to the finance minister and the governor of the RBI, and you wrote that there are already reports of a surge in domestic Bitcoin trade, and there are, as well a moving of black economy to the dark internet.

The surveillance and policy requirements are challenging and then you continued on to write, I am drawing you attention to the need to be ahead of the curve, on this, rather than being, so that RBI must develop the capabilities on this urgently. That was a very powerful letter that you wrote, and for all intents and purposes very bullish, if I was reading that, but it seems like the RBI took the opposite approach, and instead basically told all banks in the country don't work with any crypto companies at all. And there's a whole supreme court ruling going on right now. Why do you think that they took that stance?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
And this is, Charlie, you know, I am part of the system now. So, I have to be, smart about how I say this. You see, there are two ways of addressing a problem, in any governmental system. One is to say we will be smarter than the guys innovating and we will just be ahead of the curve, and we will engage with them on a basis of almost equal domain knowledge and capability. But, that's hard work for anybody in the government to do, that's hard for anybody in the public space to do. Which is, you know, get up to speed and innovate as much as some of the smarter guys. So, therefore, there is an almost instinctive response by those who sense a threat. To use a hammer on the threat. Which is to say, look, just shut down that threat by bolting it into some room and shutting the door.

It is not the way that, I would like it. I would not want innovation to be trampled by a paranoid approach to regulation. Because, paranoid approach to regulation just means let's... You know, safest way to handle things is just shut the door on everything, and just say no innovation, and nobody will be worried about anything except in the consumer room, who suffer with limited choice in terms of innovation. So, I think that is what we are doing, which is to say, oh here's a problem, somebody just flagged that, a lot of the black mail that we were trying to do address through reducing cash in the economy is going to go underground. Instead of figuring out how to do this better, and how to keep an eye on the dark internet and keep an eye on Bitcoin movement, and creating some capability within our system. Let's just say it's illegal, and then anybody who does that will be scared to death about doing it.

This is not unusual, and I think at some point, we will have to get to a place, as India, and as other countries around the world, that we are able to look at innovation and support innovation, but are capable of regulating innovation, wherever innovation creates problems and public interest. But, having said that, it is not easy to create in the government. You know if I were in the RBI, or if you were in the RBI, you could possibly do it. It's not easy to just get back there.

Charlie Shrem
Yeah, because they have a... There's a huge job they have to do, because you basically have to go on both sides and appease innovation, but also appease. I'd like to play a clip that was sent this morning from someone that looks up to you, and he'd like to meet you and try to work with you. Wayne, can we play the first clip?

Nischal Shetty
Hi Charlie, Namaste, Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar. My name is Nischal Shetty, and I'm the founder and CEO of WazirX, which is a cryptocurrency exchange based out of India. My first question to you is, there was a recent crypto report, released by a committee setup by the government of India, which have come into to ban on crypto in India. None of the industry experts were consulted or involved in this, so can we expect industry participation to make the report more positive, and better for our crypto eco-system in India?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
So, my response to Nischal, is I think that those of you, who have a view on crypto and believe that there is sufficient room, in the public policy space, for the policies to evolve and be inclusive of innovation, and at the same time, address the security and other concerns. They should just reach out to me, and I have the ability to create, let us say, documents with your inputs, and have that presented either in Parliament or to the government. So, don't worry about what goes on in government, and that is one particular point of view. India is a fairly vibrant democracy in the sense that you can still approach people like me, and evolve an alternate view and have that alternate view be discussed, narrated, and debated within government. I can do that, you know, I'd encourage you to reach out to me.

Charlie Shrem
We'll put your Twitter handle in the show note, but thank you for responding to that.

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It seems like here in the united states, government is not approachable, and the people that are, you know, on the ground here we don't feel like we have the ability to really talk to the ones that are really in the positions to, to help draft legislation and I think, if we look at the countries where you are able to do that. Switzerland for example, a lot of countries in Europe and in Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong, their style of governments enable people to really approach... Even in the UAE, you're seeing the same type of things. What kind of parallels do you see, between governance? What are your thoughts on governance itself, because, you come from the technology space, you have a lot of views on privacy that are really good.

And now that you're in the government, tell me, what was that like, your first day, and you know, kind of sitting in your chair. Your office is saying wow, now I'm in the government, what was that like?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Charlie, unless you are seeing the future, I don't see why not in the government yet, I'm in Parliament, unless you have some crystal ball that you're gazing and you see me in the government soon. No, I'm not in government, but I'm in the party that is in the government, and I am fairly, actively, involved in advocate issues, I'm very passionate about, with the government. You know, for example the whole issue of net neutrality, the reasoning there is so far ahead of the US in the way we look at the internet, is because of, I got a whole bunch of people to sit around a table, and be very clear about how they wanted the future of the internet to be in India. And, we very strongly work with the regulator and the government, and the Prime Minister responded and said yes, we will not distort the free and open nature of the internet, just because a few telecoms wanted it.

Which is precisely what happened... Which is precisely not what happened in the US. So, we have, in my opinion, in India, a government that is open, does not have an ideological view on these things, but has obviously, a responsibility to be taking care of the safety and you know, security of all of the people of this country, and therefore they will look at this issue, this issue and any other issue, as is reasonably expected of them to do so. By saying, look, what, if this is innovation, we don't have a problem with it, but then, it does represent a certain problem, tell us how we can fix that, or how you can fix that for us.

So, that conversation applies even to crypto, and I think, it is in sort of making this about government versus innovators, I actively encourage people to come sit with me, and believe in my ability to articulate their positions, and their points of view to people in government and their leadership of the government, and hopefully persuade them to do the right thing.

Charlie Shrem
I will help organize that, and actually come out, you invited me once, but I'm definitely going to take you up on that and come out, I've never been to India, but I've wanted to for so long, and he's a good reason for me to come.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Yes, you should.

Charlie Shrem
When did you hear about crypto for the time, and what were your original thoughts about it? Do you follow technology that's on the cusp, that's on the leading edge?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Yeah, yeah, look that is in my DNA. I mean, I may be a politician today, and I deal with water problems, and road problems, and electricity problems, and corruption issues and all of that. But, you know, innovation, and people who innovate, people that I respect a lot, but that is in my DNA. I really look up to people who, even in today's world, are out there and constantly creating the new wild west. You know, if I can use that phrase, but so I am very plugged into technology. I can't say that I can still code the way I used to do 15 years ago or 20 years ago.

Charlie Shrem
It's like riding a bicycle.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Yeah, yeah, I know, but I'm told, I used to do it in C, and I used to write 10,000 lines of code, and now I'm told, there are easier ways of doing this and the languages are much more easier. You don't have to compile it and link it and create exec files and all of that. So, anyway, the point is that, I am, quite plugged in. The first time I heard about crypto was really when I was looking at block chain. And, I looked at block chain, and then I was reading up and understanding some people, either moved on type crypto, and the whole, the cryptocurrency bit. Then obviously, you got immersed in that and was fascinated by that, and then, because I was in the public policy side of things when I was reading this.

Immediately the questions were, how do you manage the anonymity, how do you manage issues in a country like India where we already have a problem with black money, and a parallel economy, will this feed into that, or will that feed into this? So, I approached it, almost like a marriage of, technology aficionado, plus a public policy maker. And, that's how I got interested.

Charlie Shrem
That's very interesting that you, that you brought up the underground economy. What's that really like? You know, a few years ago, I believe higher denomination bills were taken out of circulation, and that was to combat like corruption and illegal black market, are things like that still happening and has it been a problem for a long time?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
It has been one of the biggest problems in India for several decades now, which is, that, this unaccounted wealth... I don't want to bore you, but the whole complex... It's a complex picture of very low tax compliance, and very few people burying the tax burden, therefore having to pay high taxes, high rates of taxes, and a large number of people who are earning money, you know buying things, buying expensive cars, essentially doing that with almost tax exempt money, because they never disclose their incomes, and that is what is a parallel economy. That, of course, also fed into crime and all of that other stuff that we don't want.

So, there were two real rationales for the de-monetization, one is to almost force the migration of the illegal, untaxed income into the taxation, taxed income bracket. So, that the tax net could ride in, and the tax rates for good, honest, salary owners moderate over time. So, there was that motivation, and the other motivation was that this, black economy, was also feeding the criminal enterprises, and all of the downstream activities that go from that. So, that was necessary to do. And it is, and it was necessary to do because the last 70 years in India, that has been the bane of politics, it has been the bane of electoral politics, politicians, crime, all of that.

So, when you talk about crypto, the natural concern, or paranoia, would be, by creating this, are we going back? Or are we moving, transitioning from a cash economy, cash black economy to something that is even less traceable, and more difficult to crack. Because, cash is, at the end of the day, you can always, you know, go to somebody's house and find out stacks of cash, currency also been piling up there, or not. This is, a lot more sophisticated, and definitely not something that a normal constable on the beat can pick up on, so.

Charlie Shrem
There is a war on cash going on around the world.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Absolutely.

Charlie Shrem
And, it's like, a lot of governments don't want people using cash at all. Do you see like a world, where we don't have physical cash, and I also want to say one comment about what you said before. I, actually, you know, I talk to a lot of regulators consistently, and the ones that are involved in, not only regulating, but also enforcing will say that, actually it's a lot easier to do crime with crash than it is to do crime with Bitcoin and crypto, and in fact, they almost like it when criminals try to use cryptocurrency, because they're stupid, and it's easier to track them down when they're using cryptocurrency, than it is when they're using cash.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
So, I think those are the points that have to be made. From India's perspective, the war on cash, if you want to call it that, has got two dimensions, like I said. One is to make sure that there is more tax compliance, we want the government revenues to grow and have the government revenues grow robustly and realistically given the nature and size of the economy. So, there is one... That aspect is basically about making sure tax evasion does not happen, and catch-

Charlie Shrem
The taxes are being paid, yeah of course.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
And the way, if you have income and expenses all going down the cash road. You effectively don't have to pay tax, because there's no paper trail. So, that was the main challenge of making sure tax compliance, and the tax GDP issue went up. The second part of that was this crackdown on crime, because criminal enterprises already deal in cash, because of anonymity reasons. So, there, if the argument can be made that crypto's actually better on the issue of criminal enterprises and the black economy, that's something that the awareness on that has to be built, but those are the two issues that we face today. And, that is the reason for India's crackdown on cash, it may be a little different than the US, and it could be very different from, let's say how UK is doing it, in terms of migrating everybody to a digital cash platform.

That, and by the way, that is what the Prime Minister of India wants, which is to have the component of currency in the economy, progressively go down, as more and more of India, and more and more of Indians move towards digital payment solutions. Digital payment solutions, also with crypto and anonymity, that is something that we need to build awareness and understanding about.

Charlie Shrem
Just because I'm curious, what is the tax, like the current, just an over-general, and my curiosity, what it is?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
It could... It ranges, it can go up to 42, almost 45, percent.

Charlie Shrem
Okay. Well in the US here, it's 40% in a higher bracket, because we have the state and federal taxes. What about corporate taxes?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Yeah, they're all the same ballpark, it's all 40, 45 percent, and you have some surcharges for the corporate, corporate India, but the reason, I'll tell you, the reason why we absolutely need lower taxes in the long term, is that India is an economy that is still driven a lot by credit. We have, in over the last 7 years, create the equity space. We haven't created equity in the amounts the economy requires. And our goal is to, for example, is be a $5 Trillion economy by 2025. And, the only way to create equity is to make sure some of these profits of some of these corporates is available for reinvesting.

So, if you tax 40 percent, you're almost saying, some of the shareholders get some money, but there's not very much left to invest and expand the overall equity capital base, of the nation, and so, gross equity formation, is in my opinion, directly linked to moderate taxation, over the long term. Which is in turn linked to better tax compliance, which is in turn linked to-

Charlie Shrem
That's what I was going to ask you.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Yeah.

Charlie Shrem
Do you think lower tax, lower taxes, which sounds great, will lead to more compliance?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
I think so, I think there's enough empirical evidence in India, that shows that the higher the taxes the more incentive for innovation.

Charlie Shrem
The more complicated the taxes too. Here the US taxes are so complicated, it's just... No one even knows what to do most of the time.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
I don't think it's very different from the UK, or from India or from any other country. I think the tax gurus in all countries, are all kind of like loyal. They're all exported from some planet out in space. And they came in here an alien. So, no, I think that is true, for everybody, I think, it becomes a problem for India, because if you have a very small percentage of the population paying the taxes for the large part of the nation. That puts an unusually high burden on a very high percentage of people who are all working hard. And, I'm not talking about the billionaires and the crony capitalists. I'm talking about the actual middle-

Charlie Shrem
Middle class.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Class guys that are going out there. Who are working a good job, trying to build a future for their families. In my opinion, it's unfair for them to be paying 35 percent taxes. I think they should be paying 10, 15 percent taxes in the long term. And, having money to save, to spend, to invest in. Whether it's invest in markets, whether it's invest in commodities, build a stronger equity capital base for future generations. So I think, that's the direction we want to go, that's the direction the Prime Minister intends to take in there. A big part of that is to ensure everybody who earns, pays their fair share in taxes. Rather than, only those who believe in complying with the law pay the taxes.

Charlie Shrem
 How involved should a central bank be in, and this is more of a macro question, there's some economies that are very standoff-ish and let markets do whatever they're going to do, and there's some other countries and governments where, the central bank manages everything very, with a heavy touch. Where do you think India falls into play here? How involved do you think the central bank should in the economy, on a day-to-day basis?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Well, I think the RBI does a reasonably good job and is a bank that's had a good track record compared to some of the other central banks, including the US, so, they are very low to intervene in currency markets. You don't see the Reserve Bank of India, trying to set floors or set ceilings on the currency. And, so, there's a lot of market determined currency levels there. Of course, the Reserve Bank of India, does manage a very conservative monetary stance. They do inflation management, inflation targeting. Fairly, effectively. Because, that effects inflation in India, or let's say the US, or other advanced economies.

Inflation is like an additional tax on the poor. So, if food stuff, you know, sort of grows 10 percent, 10, 20 percent per year. It's basically effecting the household disposable income, and survival, really of a lot of poor people. So, inflation management, they do very, very well. We've had about 5 years of extremely low inflation. But, a reasonably high nominal growth level. So, they do that, and I don't think the Reserve Bank of India, is a... You can characterize them as a very interventionist central bank. And, as a matter of fact, some of the problems that we are facing in the economy today, for example, in the public sector banking system, with all these bad loans that have accumulated over the last 10 years.

As, as a result of the Reserve Bank of India taking a slightly non-interventionist view on issues like bank regulation, which is also in their scope of responsibilities.

Charlie Shrem
A lot of people that have reached out to me on Twitter, think that the government of India thinks... Are ignorant of crypto, and thinks that it's a ponzi scheme. Now, I don't agree with that, but obviously there are some that you have talked with earlier, that are not being more open-minded. What percentage of people, of members of Parliament, what percentage of politicians, of bankers, I mean, where do they fall on a spectrum, do you think a lot of them agree with you? Do you think that they're more in the middle? On the right side? How do the cards fall?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Well, Charlie, this will sound a bit modest, and I'm not trying to be modest, I think the issues that I take on, tend to be issues that by my own definition, tend to be slightly ahead of the curve. And somebody that, by that, you can safely assume that, a lot of the government and members of parliament will come a little late to that party and they will, sort of eventually get there, but it's something that-

Charlie Shrem
Will it be too late?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
You see, I don't know, you see, so far the battles that I've fought, whether it be privacy, whether it's net neutrality, whether it's all of these things, everybody told me look, you're never going to understand, it's too sophisticated, it's anti-establishment. I don't think so, I think anything that's good for the country, anything that's presented as being good. Anything that's presented with the bad's of it as being mitigated with this kind of solutions, A, B, C, D, like that, will find an audience. I'm sorry to go back to this, but the net neutrality battle that was won effectively in India, was a battle that was not easy to win. There were big boys-

Charlie Shrem
Your background is in telco and everything, what was that like?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
No, exactly right, and I believed that the consumers of India were getting the short shift. And, at the end of the day, we keep talking investors and building capacity and building infrastructure, but then the rate had to move to the interest of the consumer. And, that of free and fair internet was core to the interest of the Indian internet consumer. And that conversation, while I started alone, was quickly joined by almost 500,000, 600,000 people online. We had a joint petition that was submitted to the telecom regulator. That then hit the media, then that went on to get the Prime Minister's attention. And then, I wrote a number of letters to measures in Parliament, and the government's policy became what it is today.

So, I am not a person that says, "No, no, this is a tough subject, let's just give up, nobody seems to understand it. Let's just walk away and say to hell with this," that's not the way I operate, and I don't think that's the way any innovation, or any group of people who want the innovators to succeed must approach this. Yes, there's going to be skepticism, yes, there's going to be resistance. But, I mean, you know, if everything was so easy, then, you know, everybody would be doing it. I think, I'm not prepared to say that this is tough and India will lose out on this. Because, a few people don't understand it.

Charlie Shrem
I'm just worried, I'm worried because the Reserve Bank of India imposed like, restrictions now, that can severely, severely, cripple the crypto community. Which is, one of the largest in the world.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
So, Charlie, like I said to the gentleman in the show earlier. I said, they should get together, they should engage in those in public life, instead of sniping from the sidelines.

Charlie Shrem
I agree.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Get in the mainstream, engage and have a conversation. Discuss it, be challenged, and challenge people right back, and then see at the end of the day what happens, what comes out of it. But, to sit and stand on the sidelines, sort of in the shadows and you know, we are way smarter than everybody else and people just don't get us, and then, complain and whine later on, then you know, you only have yourself to blame.

Charlie Shrem
Right now, I mean, right now there's a Supreme Court ruling that's going on, and I know that the internet and mobile association of India is representing the crypto community and the dates keep getting extended. But, can we see a favorable outcome with that? Can we see... This is as of a few weeks ago, and it's going in, can they reach out to you, can we see a favorable outcome, or at least-

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
I haven't studied the case, I don't know what they're arguing. I know, kind of, from the media that this is going on. I, frankly, haven't got a piece of paper in front of me. Nobody sent me anything.

Charlie Shrem
Sure.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
I'm happy to look at it, I'm happy to even suggest an approach that is workable, if there is any room for that. I am happy to engage. I never say no to having a conversation with anybody on any issues related to technology.

Charlie Shrem
How can people in India, and I'm asking more for myself, because I would emulate, here in the US the same answers, but how can Indians get involved in policy making, in industry, is there an official avenue to participate. And, not just with crypto, with anything, what's that like in India?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
But, Charlie, I think, obviously you're not aware, but it's a pretty vibrant democracy, I mean on every issue. People are engage. I'm engaged with people, all forms of people, they discuss, I'm engaged in groups of people who want better roads in the neighborhood. I'm engage with people who want illegal massage parlors shutdown in a residential neighborhood. And, in one spectrum, one end of the spectrum and I'm engaged with people who want better policies for data protection. So, there is a lot of engagement and interaction between elected representatives and the people. It's a vibrant, social media just made it even easier.

I mean, I get hundreds and thousands of emails, and DMs, and messages on Facebook, from people that... And, I meet people all the time, and I'm not speaking just for myself, this happens across the board for all of our Parliamentarians. So, it's a question of depending on what your issue is, connecting to, one of the many MPs who's online, who's on Twitter, who's on Facebook, or who's mobile number is available online. And, reaching out to them and seeking and meeting them.

Charlie Shrem
You put your money where your mouth is. I reached out to you on Twitter, and here we are, so, to my listeners listening, he's not just saying this. The way we were able to even talk is just meeting over Twitter. It seems like, from what I understand, and I see it on Twitter too. The Crypto community in India, needs to get more active, needs to get more involved, needs to not just complain about what the issues are, but actually get involved as much as possible. Because, in India, you have the ability to do that. Where, in the US, you don't.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
I say, engage with people who can understand you, who have a point of you. And then, have a conversation, because without a conversation, you know what the result is going to be. With the conversation, you increase the odds of somebody listening to you, hearing you out and understanding.

Charlie Shrem
Mr. Shrandra Sakar, thank you so much for coming on the show, and taking the time out, I really appreciate it, I think this was a really vibrant and good conversation, and I hope that my fellow crypto brothers and sisters in India are listening, and reach out to you, and this leads to some really good things.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
That's Charlie, and thank you for doing what you're doing. Keep doing that, thank you.

Charlie Shrem
I want to say everyone, that's for listening. Thank you.

This episode of Untold Stories is sponsored by Scott Offered, the creator of crypto mining, and helps people buy and sell their miners. He created a Bitcoin mining profitability calculator, and an interactive Asic hardware, comparison chart, that you can find at cryptomining.tools. It's the only free online tool for calculating profitability, and days to ROI, that includes the impact of the Bitcoin block reward, having the calculator lets you put in your estimate uptime to give you a more realistic profit projects, so check it out and find Scott on Telegram and Twitter at O-F-F-O-R-D-S-C-O-T-T, new episodes go live every Tuesday at 7:00 AM EST. Links to our Apple and Spotify channels are in the show notes. You can also follow me on Twitter, Charlie Shrem, to continue the conversation, see you, next week.