All posts filed under: Soft Power

Why You Cannot Leverage Indian Soft Power Without Producing Indic Art

The 1960s and 1970s were times of profound journeys for Indian art. The 1920s and 1930s were even better, perhaps. The constant struggle to find arts in the right spaces and space for the arts got the best out of artistes and collaborations. That wondrous era of remarkable 1960s — conversations in culture and revival of the arts had also seen Milena Salvini, who was awarded the Padma Shri for kathakali last month, get drawn to the Indian dance forms and become a part of a great period of cultural mutation in aesthetics. Contributing to her journey was well-known Bharatanatyam exponent and guru M K Saroja. What made world artistes, such as Salvini, leap to India — back and forth? What inspired them to establish not only a vast audience across generations, but also centres for the learning of Indian arts? Salvini went back to France. Centre Mandapa was established in Paris, to see students pick up and learn dance forms. In north India, Rishikesh received the Beatles. A lot happened here, some say. What …

What Is Indic Soft Power And How Can India Leverage It In The Twenty-First Century?

India had its first ‘Conference on Soft Power’ in New Delhi from 17 to 19 December, hosted by the Center for Soft Power of the India Foundation in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the Center on Public Diplomacy of the University of Southern California, and Nalanda University, Rajgir, Bihar. The conference was opened by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and featured speakers from a number of countries who addressed a variety of subjects as part of this extensive event. It included theoretical perspectives and Indian soft power across multiple verticals — ayurveda, cinema, cuisine, arts, crafts and design, language, literature, museums, performing arts, spirituality, tourism, education and yoga. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu addressing the conference  Vice President Venkaiah Naidu addressing the conference This article will examine various elements of soft power and global communication to provide an overview of the issues involved, and suggest a strategy to go forward. Soft power is a new political term that few people understand today and often misinterpret. Today, soft power is defined primarily in terms of economics, …

Diplomacy Over Three Courses

Cesar Chavez, the Mexican American Presidential Medal of Honor awardee, and labour rights activist once famously said “if you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him — the people who give you their food give you their heart”. Having North Korean fare — spicier kimchi than in South Korea, naengmyeon or raengmyŏn, a cold buckwheat and sweet potato noodle dish, and soju, an alcoholic drink —at Pyongyang while being entertained by cultural performances from North Korea may be far easier and cheaper than actually travelling to the North Korean capital Pyongyang to savour the fare. There are over 100 North Korean restaurants — Pyongyang and Okryugwan — across Asia. These restaurants provide the much needed foreign currency to the reclusive ‘hermit kingdom’ through their noodle diplomacy or chopsticks diplomacy initiated after the collapse of their main supporter, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), in the early 1990s. Arguably, this has done more for North Korea than having eccentric former NBA star Dennis Rodman champion the country and its …

The Third Sanskrit Revolution: If Not In India, Then Where?

Type on your web search engine: “the top ten most pirated books of 2009”. What will you see? A Sanskrit book: the Kamasutra. You can dismiss it by saying: “it’s not about Sanskrit, it’s all about sex”, but you will be missing the point. What matters here is that Sanskrit had something meaningful to say about sexology. So meaningful that, even today after more than 1,500 years, it still has a strong appeal over the whole world. The same could be said, albeit in different degrees, about mathematics, astronomy, medicine, grammar, phonetics, computational linguistics, pharmacy, industrial chemistry, metallurgy, aesthetics, political sciences, psychology and, of course, yoga and consciousness studies. Even in gaming: the best ever strategy game bears a Sanskrit name: chaturanga or chess. The meaningfulness of Sanskrit implies that it is universal and stands the test of time. It also means that it has deeply influenced the sciences of other cultures. Arthur A MacDonnell, the well-known British scholar, wrote: Since the Renaissance, there has been no event of such worldwide significance in the history …