I wonder... both India and China are counted as high context cultures, and I particularly like this quote from Wikipedia on high context culture:
["High context"] refers to a culture's tendency to use high context messages over low context messages in routine communication. This choice of communication styles translates into a culture that will cater towards in-groups, an in-group being a group that has similar experiences and expectations, from which inferences are drawn. In a high context culture, many things are left unsaid, letting the culture explain.
And if experience is any guide, high context cultures tend toward the snidely triumphal, aka " ultimately we will be better than you." Which, it seems to me, is in-group talk writ big. As in, "We are the in-group and maybe you can make a relationship with us."
See, the other thing on high the context/low context Wikipedia page is this:
High to Low
An individual from a higher context culture may need to adapt and/or be accommodated when shifting to a low context culture. A lower context culture demands more independence, and expects many relationships, but fewer intimate ones. A high context individual is more likely to ask questions rather than attempt to work out a solution independently, and the questions are likely to be asked from the same few people. The high context person may be frustrated by people appearing to not want to develop a relationship or continue to help them on an ongoing basis. The term 'Hand-holding' might be used in an unintentional derogatory sense.
Low to High
An individual from a low context culture may need to adapt and/or be accommodated when shifting to a higher context culture. Higher context cultures expect small close-knit groups, and reliance on that group. Groups can actually be relied upon to support each other, and it may be difficult to get support outside of your group. Professional and personal lives often intertwine. A lower context individual may be more likely to try to work things out on their own and feel there is a lack of self-service support or information, rather than ask questions and take time to develop the relationships needed to accomplish the things that need to be done.
So, other than saying there's a big slab o culture in Mahbubani's message, how can we make sense of a paragraph like this one:
The end of Western domination of world history means that we have to drop our Western cultural lenses to understand this new era. This will require retooling the most influential Western minds in the world; in governments, think-tanks, the media and academies. These thousands of Western pundits have a disproportionate influence on the global discourse. And because their minds are filled with distorted perspectives, they generate false understandings. Since this is a strong claim to make, I will support it by providing three examples of distorted Western perspectives on China.
If those influential western minds have a disproportionate influence on global discourse, then western domination of world history is far from over; but if Mahbubani is actually saying those western minds can exist in relation to Indian (and Chinese) minds, then he's actually starting the business of creating an Indian (and Chinese) rising influence in global discourse. Or, in tough manly triumphal words, singing "I wanna hold your hand."