Prominent biographer Walter Isaacson, known for his documentary style biographies on Steve Jobs, Henry Kissinger, and more recently the biography of Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, has provided valuable insights into Musk’s strong interest in India and the potential for Tesla’s expansion into the Indian market.
During an interview with Business Today, Isaacson shed light on Musk’s perspectives regarding India’s role in technology and space exploration.
Elon Musk’s biography
Isaacson dedicated two to three years to crafting his latest biography on Elon Musk, granting him exceptional access to Musk’s daily life, including interactions with family, friends, colleagues, and even adversaries.
In his book, Isaacson delves into Musk’s early life, family background, education, romantic relationships, and challenges while leading multiple multibillion-dollar enterprises.
On Tesla coming to India
Regarding Elon Musk’s aspirations for Tesla’s entry into India, Walter Isaacson acknowledged Musk’s deep affinity for the country. He pointed out that many Tesla enthusiasts in India eagerly await the company’s presence in their market, akin to the anticipation surrounding Musk’s satellite internet venture, Starlink.
However, Isaacson underscored that the realization of Musk’s plans in India hinges on various factors, including foreign direct investment regulations and the extent of control over manufacturing facilities. Drawing parallels with Tesla’s entrance into the Chinese market, Isaacson emphasized Musk’s preference for maintaining authority over manufacturing operations.
In the case of China, Musk patiently waited three years to gain complete control over Tesla’s operations, avoiding a joint venture arrangement, thus emphasizing his commitment to retaining oversight of the manufacturing process. Isaacson suggested that Musk’s willingness to invest in India would be contingent upon similar considerations.
Isaacson stated, “His plans depend on foreign direct investment regulations and other factors. When he decided to venture into China, there were laws mandating joint ventures with local enterprises for car manufacturing, which Elon Musk was unwilling to entertain. Hence, he refrained from any action for three years until he could exercise full control.”
Isaacson also provided insights into Musk’s distinctive views on India, highlighting the contrast with China. He observed that Musk perceives China as a place where people tend not to question authority, whereas India is characterized by a more significant number of independent thinkers.
India’s tradition of critical thinking
According to Isaacson, Musk believes India’s tradition of critical thinking and a willingness to challenge established norms positions the country at the forefront of technological revolutions, especially in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) and space exploration.
Isaacson commended India’s accomplishments in space exploration, citing the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission, which landed on the moon.
In Isaacson’s words, “Elon Musk recognizes the enthusiasm of Indian Tesla enthusiasts and their eagerness for him to expand his presence in India, a sentiment shared regarding Starlink. Consequently, he holds a deep fondness for India.”