This is a piece in an occasional series of articles about the BRIC nations. If you are looking for international students, these rising powers provide an important opportunity, but you have to know about the country and its people to effectively recruit. We previously discussed Brazil. This week, we’ll be discussing India- it’s rise, obstacles it faces, how recruiters can appeal to potential Indian students, and how to make sure students are adjusting well to life in America, as well as further resources for reading.

India, perhaps more so than any country in the world, has the power to evoke almost tangible imaginings just from hearing its name. It is exotic, distant, full of life, people, and contradictions. The gleaming towers in Mumbai stand in contrast to the teeming slums. The country born from Gandhi’s fierce commitment to peace and justice was brought into the world with a spasm of unimaginable violence. The country is fantastically diverse topographically- from the interior deserts to the vast plains to the lush jungles to the awe-inspiring beauty of the disputed territory of Kashmir.India is as varied as its people, who make up nearly one out of every five people on the planet.

India is now famous for its tech sector, for its role in developing technology and manning call centers to help Americans with their problems. For an international recruiter, India is a dream. It has an enormous population practically screaming to join the globalized world. Indeed, India is a rising power today because of its youth and intelligence, and you can help both your school and the future of this amazing land by helping to bring its finest students to your classroom. But to do so, you first have to understand the past.


The ancient land of India has become well-adapted to the modern world: has your school adapted to Indian students?
Image source: Flickr user Mira Bai

The Past and the Present

But maybe the most interesting facet of India’s dual natures (dual is an undersell; like America, it contains multitudes) almost certainly is its combination of jaw-dropping antiquity and its fluency in the technology of the modern world. India is old, with the roots of Hinduism coming out of the mists of time, and its precise history is largely unknown. This is remarkable, because India had developed writing as long ago as 3000 BC, which makes its prehistory extremely ancient indeed.

Throughout the centuries, India has been invaded by everyone from the Aryans to the Persians to Alexander the Great, whose ever-expanding empire stopped spreading when his troops refused to fight anymore. More recent history was dominated by the British, who colonized the sub-Continent during the so-called “Great Game”, an appellation whose breezy nature obscures the real suffering created by colonization. India was the lynchpin of the East, a land absurdly wealthy in natural resources, and every other country wanted a piece of it. The British eventually “won” India, mostly through the British East India Company, a strange hybrid of a trade group and a paramilitary. Eventually, India became an official colony.

This is not just an idle history lesson, either. Maybe the great genius of India is its ability to take the good from other cultures while still retaining its identity. From the Aryans, it took Sanskrit; from the British, it learned modern education and engineering techniques, and the framework of a functioning state. Though the period after independence was wracked with sectarian violence, leading to intractable conflicts, and the post-heroic political system was an absolute mess, India kept growing, adapting, and rising. There were obviously troubles, but it is only a very blinkered modern mindset that says “hundreds of years of colonization grafted on a culture thousands of years old should produce a perfect society in a few decades.”

In the last few decades, the economy of India has exploded. The tech sector is one of the most important in the world, and Bombay transformed from a smallish fishing village to become Mumbai, global hub (the reason behind the name change is something we’ll explore in the next article). Though the economy has slowed, leaving people to wonder if they are declining again, this is viewed through the lens of a powerful and stable nation experiencing shocks, not a fragile economy constantly teetering on the edge of ruin.

Where students come in

It is true that the economic slowdown has led to fewer Indian students coming to America to study, but there is still a very large amount, and no reason why this number can’t rebound. Indeed, India is still just behind China and South Korea. This can help with recruiting. All the students who have come here have left their mark on America as surely as America has impacted their lives.

Indian students know the United States, and know what they can achieve. It is still an immensely fertile ground for the international education recruiter. As this series progresses, we’ll discuss how to appeal to Indian students, and how to help them adjust to life in America once they are here. Though India is no longer the fresh new place to recruit, the dynamic energy and intelligence of its population maintain its position as one of the world’s most important nations: both for the economy, and for your school.


The international student experience is both challenging and exciting. Whether you are a student considering studying in America, their parent, the host family, the Head of School, an international coordinator, or even a potential classmate, there are as many opportunities for confusion as there are to learn. The ISPA is here to help bridge that gap, to ensure that this opportunity and adventure is met with the highest level of success.