India, China, and 'This Brave New World'

On books, institutional strategies, and campus conversations.

January 10, 2017

This Brave New World: India, China, and the United States by Anja Manuel

Published in May of 2016.

How do you think about India and China at your school? Do you think about brand awareness and student recruitment?  

How do India and China matter - if they do matter - at your institution?

Whatever conversation you are currently having at your school about India and China, Anja Manuel’s This Brave New World should help improve the quality of that discussion.  

I’ve been waiting for a single volume that tackles how we in the US should think about the future of India and China. Manuel, a former diplomat and co-founder of strategic consulting firm (with Condoleezza Rice), does a beautiful job of combining big picture analysis with boots-on-the ground descriptions. She seems to have spent most of her life traveling around the these two countries, and is able to situate her rich cultural descriptions within the larger context of the relevant historical and economic trends.

The main argument that Manuel makes is that we in the US tend to worry too much about China, and think too little about India.  

These are some of the things that I learned in reading this lively and thoughtful book:

  • A good overview of the main historical, political, and social trends that will impact the role of India and China in the world in the next few decades.
  • An excellent description of how the political systems in both countries actually operate, as well as the ways that the US should engage in diplomacy with these giants.
  • A fairly comprehensive description of the Indian and Chinese economic structures, as well as the likely economic impact of Indian and Chinese policies on both the region and the larger world.

All of This Brave New World is great, but the chapters that have the most relevancy for higher education are all about India.

India will become - likely in our working lifetimes - the world’s largest consumer and provider of higher education.  The future of postsecondary education will be determined in India, not in the US.  The transition from an education based on competency rather than seat time will happen in India.  The move from a place-based model of a campus to a digital model of a campus will first happen in India. 

Today, when we talk about higher ed in India we tend to restrict our view to the high quality (and even more highly selective) Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).  Many of our higher ed and edtech leaders are IIT alums.  Manuel makes the case that we need to broaden our lens in thinking about the Indian postsecondary system.  The open online education movement looks very different through Indian eyes.

What other books would you recommend if your goal is to drive a campus discussion around developing an institutional strategy for India and China? 

Do you buy my argument that the best way to generate conversation amongst higher ed people is for everyone to read the same book? 

What are you reading?



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