Saturday, November 17, 2007

India’s Soft Power

Like everything else, India was gifted with a huge capital of soft power. Soft power, as opposed to hard military power, connotes a nation’s contribution to the field of art, literature, fashion, music, culture and so on. It enhances a nation’s image and attracts others towards it like a gravitational pull. India, as in the past, is rich in soft power at present too. But as a result of inconsistent strategic culture and a complacent policy mechanism, India has failed to utilise it in the fullest potential. Soft power, as a corollary to hard military power, should help a nation to deal with other nations in thy fields of technology and resources.
Consider these facts, which the Indians know and consider matters of past but are unaware of their significance for the present and future. India is an ancient country with millennia-old cultural traditions. The first text of the world was created on the Indian soil. The Indians discovered the earth’s rotation around the sun, zero, chess, Ayurveda, yoga, cosmopolitanism and so on. The direct disciple of Jesus Christ St. Thomas travelled to India. The country came under various European cultural currents at different times and assimilated the foreign elements with amazing tolerability. Alexander invaded India in 326 B.C. The Toda tribe inhabiting the Uti hills are said to be the descendents of the Greeks. Similarly, the Huns, the Mongols, Pathans, the French, the Dutch, the English came to India and left an indelible imprint on the cultural map of the country. A whole village in Midnapore empathised with Portugal in the World Cup Football because they are said to be descendants of the Portuguese guards brought by Indian kings. The English gave birth to Anglo-Indian culture. Pondicherry bears a visible influence of the French culture. The demography too, indicates in the affirmative. Goa testifies to the Portuguese settlement even now. The Persis driven out from Persia embraced India and worked for India’s development with a resolute and creative mind. The Indian Jews also worked for India’s development. India having the second largest Muslim population in the world, rejected Al Qaida brand fanatism. The five hundred years of Moghul rule, contributed to India’s demography and culture. Besides, India provided shelter to millions of refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. The exiled Tibetan government found refuge in the hilly district of Himachal, Dharmashala. Even now, the conscription weary Israelis seek solace in the exotic ambience of Himachal. The consumerist westerns seek solace in the ghats of Varanasi (what an anticlimax!), in the calm forests of Vrindavan and in the mysterious ISCON temples.
But inspite of all these, the great one-billion nation has been denied its importance. It has been denied the permanent seat in the UN Security Council, has not been allowed a seat in the OIC despite its second largest Muslim population. India is viewed as a non-Asian country by other Asian nations because of its close proximity with the western powers. It has been denied the sophisticated space and dual use technologies. The neighbouring countries act as blades of scissors to cut it short. But, whom should the Indians (especially the politicians and leaders who have been posing like philanthropic avatars...) blame, but for themselves? The naked fact is that, India has miserably failed to utilise its soft power in controlling and regulating its soft power. Because of a lack of proper strategic culture, its close-door approach, its fake glorification of non-violence, its ideological dilemmas, its narrow internal political agenda and what not (one may accidentally happen to spit out to pronounce them all), India has failed to channelize its soft power properly, which other nations have fairly done with much limited resources, especially China.
At present, the rising India is attracting the world. It has been a successful democracy surrounded by a string of turbulent neighbouring countries. Its GDP is increasing at more than 9%. India is now nuclear weapon state with a vast military. India is being referred by the west as a science superpower. Besides, India is aiming for the Moon with a moon mission planned in 2008. Besides, an expanding list of successful entrepreneurs all over the world as a talented young workface is marching towards a shiny future. India is a great software power today. Besides, English language efficiency is a great advantage to us.
So we must launch a soft-power overdrive. It should start from our neighbourhood, then cover the whole of Asia and the whole world. Several psychological factors including inferiority complex and security phobia from the neighbouring countries should be formulated to conquer them. Special policies should be formulated for tackling the Chinese threat for India. The Chinese language and culture should be given extreme importance in some special institutes. Besides, India has to explain to the world its nuclear dilemma and assert its participation in the Non-ploliferation movement. Thus, Japan, the sole victim of N-weapon may view India with an altered attitude. India must project itself as a friend of Japan as the ocean-guard of the Japanese oil. Besides, the Buddhist connection with the south-west Asian nations should be emphasised. A global Nalanda University should be established, where special subjects suited for the globalised world from the Indian perspective should be taught. India has to engage itself culturally with the Gulf States and West Asia as well. Its Muslim academia can refurbish India’s battered image of a killer of the Muslim in JK. India has to focus heavily on Africa. Mahatma Gandhi’s contribution against apartheid should be duly highlighted. Besides, India has to work actively for Africa’s development.
Most importantly, the Indian government has to rebuild the Bollywood film industry in order make it a global platform for making films of the Hollywood order. Engagement should be intensified with the ex-Soviet states through the English language centres, software centres and training centres for military purposes as well. India also shares with the Russian states weapons platform. Latin American engagement too should be intensified.
Thus India has to formulate a well-established programme of soft-power overdrive with a purpose of peaceful co-operation with the whole world. This will work as a corollary to the hard military power as well as a means to technological and resource co-operation. India will benefit others, others will benefit India.
Another important psychological tool can be the space co-operation. Every nation is fascinated about the space. So India must think how and when and whom to offer its help and influence its course.
There may be several other factors. They should be explored and utilised for the country’s advantage.

1 comment:

stanaxe said...

May the sun shine gently always on your face,
may the wind always blow lightly from behind:
May this blog take you whereever you want to go.
Namaste

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