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. In this series, 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 is a land that staggers the Western imagination. Unmatched in the continuity of its civilization, India surpasses our ability to comprehend the magnitude of time. But for a civilization so old, and so crossed by invaders and occupiers, it has always maintained a sense of identity. This is true even as it blazes a path to the future, well on its way to becoming one of the most important nations in the world- and on its own merits, not because of the grand designs of colonizers.

We talked about India’s meteoric rise in Tuesday’s article, and the underpinnings of its economic revolution. But there is never so simple a narrative. India is still beset by problems that could hamper its growth. Economic growth has greatly slowed in the last few years, as it has in nearly every country. There are many who think that India has lost its way economically, and that its economy was built on a fragile groundlike Mumbai, built too fast, and on too much sand.

The economy is one thing, and it is affected by and affects the other issues listed below. But in these problems, there is great opportunity for international student recruitment. If you and the school you represent can understand these issues, you can use them to help get more students, and, in turn, help to fix these issues and get India onto her destined road.

Mumbai

Mumbai is beautiful, but her problems are a mirror of all India.
Image from Flickr user Prasath

The People- Power and Problems

When you think of India, you probably first think about its enormous population.  It is the second-most populated country in the world, with over 1.2 billion people, representing close to 18% of humanity. It is estimated that its population will overtake that of China by 2030. Obviously, this is part of what gives India its great strength. It can harness that energy and produce miracles. There is little 1.2 billion people can’t accomplish.

But obviously with such a large population there are problems. For one thing, India’s wealth is incredibly uneven, with hundreds of millions still trapped in desperate poverty. While there is income inequality nearly everywhere, the vast gulf between rich and poor- and the sheer number of poor- produce challenging rumblings.

And India has a young population, with more than 50% under the age of 25 (again, that’s 50% of over a billion). Finding jobs for all these people is nearly impossible. Of course, it helps if they have a great international education, and that is where you come in. There is an eagerness to study abroad and to be part of the next generation of Indians helping their country overcome these challenges. The international recruiter can find a very eager applicant base. Our next article will discuss how to appeal to these students.

Sectarianism- The Original Issue

At the stroke of midnight, on August 15th, 1947, India achieved independence from the British and became a modern nation. The independence movement was one that was largely non-violent, but the same couldn’t be said for what came next. The subcontinent was divided into two nations- India and Pakistan, the former largely Hindu, the latter almost entirely Muslim. Populations shifted back and forth, and unbearable violence ensued.

These riots and massacres still haunt both nations, particularly India, always far more pluralistic than Pakistan. In addition to the several wars fought between the two nations and the constant war footing, India has been plagued by recurrent violence. On many occasions, it has affected her politics.

This is true in the current election. The BJP, a Hindu dominated party with strong ties to the violent Hindu nationalists of Shiv Sena, could very well retake the Prime Ministership. This is not necessarily a disaster, though its candidate has been linked to some of the worst sectarian violence the country has seen since its founding.

But this is what happens when an economy weakens and many are left in poverty- the ones with the strongest passions can win the day. Many hard-liners can soften with time and the burdens of office, but if sectarian nationalism again infects the country, it could prove more disastrous than the latest dip in the GDP.

Studying Abroad- A Path Toward Peace

In every major city there is a district for nearly every ethnicity. In many areas, the sub-Continent tends to lump together. You’ll have Indian and Pakistani restaurants and businesses side-by-side, without a hint of trouble. And that’s what getting away from the immediate situation does. It shows how artificial so many of the differences are, and how peace can easily come when there aren’t self-serving demagogues whipping up hatred.

Studying abroad also gives that kind of perspective. A student is suddenly surrounded by people who are ostensibly very different, but really all the same- just a bunch of high schoolers trying to navigate into adulthood. Which, for all its age, is what India is doing right now. As a modern nation, it is still extremely young. Helping Indian students study abroad at your school can help to make this powerful, dynamic, bustling, troubled, brilliant nation reach its almost unlimited potential.

 

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.