India should exploit soft power: Tharoor

India needs to do more to leverage its formidable strengths in `soft power` abroad and exploit its capacity to provide global leadership in the area art of culture, according to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

Last Updated: Feb 18, 2011, 21:40 PM IST

London: India needs to do more to
leverage its formidable strengths in `soft power` abroad and
exploit its capacity to provide global leadership in the area
art of culture, according to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

Speaking at a symposium on `India as a soft power` at
the India Media Centre of the University of Westminster,
Tharoor recalled India`s many strengths such as films, yoga,
aurveda, pluralism, diversity and openness to global
influences.
Originally defined by Harvard academic Joseph Nye,
the idea of `soft power` is the ability of countries to
influence and alter other people`s attitudes by attraction
rather than coercion (military means).

India, Tharoor said, already had large strengths in
soft power, given its long history of ideas, diversity of
language and ethnicity, films, literature, food, etc.

The Indian government, he said, needed to exploit
these in a systematic manner to achieve its objectives.

"So far, goodwill for India abroad has been largely
generated in an unplanned manner, but has not been
systematically harnessed by New Delhi, There is a need to do
more to leverage India`s soft power systematically", Tharoor
said.

American influence had declined after September 11
after it exercised its `hard power` (military) in Iraq and
Afghanistan, Tharoor said, and noted that in the 21st century,
there will be increasing global disapproval of countries that
continue to use `hard power`.

He said: "Soft power does not belong to only
government initiatives; it is created partly by governments
and partly despite it", and mentioned official initiatives
such as Fulbright scholarships (US), Alliance Franbcaise
(French), th British Council (UK) and recent efforts by China
to set up Confucius centres across the globe.

Tharoor narrated examples of the influence of Indian
films in the Arab world, Africa and other parts of the world,
and said the roots of India`s soft power ran deep in its
ancient civilisation.
"In the 21st century, countries will be increasingly
judged by soft power. India`s popular culture has been
resilient enough to resist western influence.

India`s thriving image has changed from that of naked
fakirs to a land of computer geeks and IITs", he said.

Tharoor noted that Gandhi and Nehru made skillful use
of soft power (ideas of non-violence, non-alignment), but in
the 21st century, for hard power to succeed, it needed to be
backed by the soft power of ideas and culture.

Tharoor, however, said India continued to be a `land
of paradoxes`, and must resolve its internal problems.

"The daily terror of survival for the many must be
resolved; until that is done, talk of soft power may seem
hollow", he said.

Daya K Thussu, co-director of the Indian Media
Centre, said India had `unprecedented opportunities` to spread
its soft power, and noted a `media boom` in India.

He said the dividends based on diaspora, demography
and democracy were also accompanied by a deficit of dealing
with challenges of the deprived.

The symposium was organised in collaboration with
the Ministry of External affairs, India`s high commission in
the UK and the Confederation of India Industry.

PTI