India exerts its soft power very gently, but is prominent in a number of fields:

  1. World’s largest democracy
  2. Spectrum of cultural and linguistic diversity
  3. Moral doctrine of non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi,
  4. Yoga, Spiritualism
  5. Classical Music and Dance
  6. Holistic healthcare
  7. Delicious and flexible cuisines enjoyed globally
  8. Bollywood
  9. World’s most powerful IT factory- Indian IT firms lead the way in providing digitalization
  10. Strong rankings for science and technology.

Recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs

Despite India’s rich history and unrivaled cultural diversity, the country remains hampered by the lack of a comprehensive soft power strategy. In its latest report, the committee finds that New Delhi has not invested in a wide ranging review of international soft power strategies. While the Ministry of External Affairs has studied international best practices of countries like the United States, the UK, China and Japan, it is yet to put together a comprehensive statement detailing India’s soft power strategy. The lack of a strategy points to other key problems. Thus far, India’s diplomats and government agencies have not been able to develop a matrix to assess the effectiveness of New Delhi’s cultural diplomacy efforts. Given the often intangible impact soft power has on a country’s international standing, developing concrete metrics for performance has been a challenge. However, other pressing challenges also haunt New Delhi’s effort on this front. First, securing adequate funding has been a key concern for government agencies. China is estimated to spend about US$ 10 billion a year just on its Confucius Institutes and soft power promotion whereas ICCR and other agencies put together spend around 300-400 crores. Most of India’s expenditure goes in establishment and administration. To step up India’s efforts, the committee recommends a minimum 20% hike in the budget of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). Government organizations also face a serious shortage of talent. MEA representatives admitted that finding and inducting trained personnel into the government has been a challenge. Bureaucrats, they submitted, were not always the right pick for cultural diplomacy. Finally, India’s efforts at building soft power have been confronted by coordination problems between government agencies. MEA representatives note that bodies ranging from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport to the ICCR are conducting separate international outreach activities. While joint brainstorming sessions have been held by the NITI Aayog, the development of joint Coordination Committee to promote collaboration among government agencies has been lacking.

Summary of Recommendations

  1. Prepare a policy document on India’s soft power projection: To delineate India’s soft power toolbox and how it is being projected abroad along with a vision statement for the future. Prepare a soft power Matrix.
  2. Comparative analysis of India’s soft power with other similar countries such as China. China is estimated to spend about $10 billion a year just on its Confucius Institutes and soft power promotion whereas ICCR (Indian Council of Cultural Relations) and other agencies put together spending around (Rs) 300-400 crore. Most of India’s expenditure goes into the establishment and administration.
  3. Get recognition for Ayurveda by adopting the pharmacopoeia of India. Ayurveda, a natural system of medicine, originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. It is based on ancient writings that rely on a natural and holistic approach to physical and mental health. Ayurvedic medicine remains one of India’s traditional health care systems. Ayurveda treatment starts with an internal purification process, followed by a special diet, herbal remedies, massage therapy, yoga, and meditation. The concepts of universal interconnectedness, the body's constitution (prakriti), and life forces (doshas) are the primary basis of ayurvedic medicine. Goals of treatment aid the person by eliminating impurities, reducing symptoms, increasing resistance to disease, reducing worry, and increasing harmony in life. Herbs and other plants, including oils and common spices, are used extensively in Ayurvedic treatment. 
  4. Revamp the focus, structure and functioning of DD India for its global outreach.  DD India is an international state-owned English language news and current affairs channel from India. The service is also aimed at the overseas market.
  5. Proactive interaction with the Indian Diaspora is an important part of India’s “soft diplomacy” or “diaspora diplomacy”. For example, the Indian Diaspora played a critical role in the fructification of the Indo-US Nuclear deal. They help in building its brand internationally through their huge success stories



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