Stanford and UC Berkeley are among the top 10 universities in the world. They are both in the Bay Area about 40 miles apart. But they are a world apart in their worldview. Stanford is a private University focused on excellence. Berkeley is much more focused on social justice.

Stanford churns out start-ups at a rapid pace. Google, Yahoo, Sun Microsystem, Cisco are a few of thousands Stanford start-ups. I can’t think of one of the top of my head as a Berkeley start-ups, though I am sure there are many out there.

I have been engaged with both of them for last 20 years, more so with Stanford than Berkeley. India’s telecom liberalization policy was forged at Stanford. Stanford runs an India Economic seminar every year. Berkeley is much more focused on cultural and political aspects of India.

Yesterday, Marc h 11th, I was at SIEPR’s annual economic summit at Stanford. It attracts top economists from all over. It had Larry Summers and Greg Manqiw of Harvard in attendance yesterday. They both have been the heads Council of Economic Advisers at the White House in a Democratic and Republican administrations. It also had Raj Chetty an up and coming economist of Stanford and formerly of Harvard. It was a delight to listen to arguments about the income inequality and its potential causes. Both left and right views were given an equal time.

Today, I was at Berkeley for a seminar titled “India under Modi”. I was a part of the panel on Digital Governance. I consider myself as a centrist with respect to BJP and Congress. May be not quite equidistant but I am distant from both parties. My observations that India a lot less corrupt now that it was when I was growing up and most of the petty corruption that one used to face on daily basis is mostly gone cam under instant barrage of attack. Most people had the dark (or darker) view of the technology. Digital technology under BJP is being used for nothing but nefarious purpose! Congress had a more benign view. I did not get to attend any other session but if my session is any indication, mind of the most people was made up before any debate.

Very interesting and stark contrast. Makes life very enjoyable in the Bay Area.




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