Posts Tagged ‘Soft Power’
India’s Afghanistan policy is a classic case displaying the pros and cons of soft power approach in international relations. Soft power is fruitful as a continuum of the smart power strategy where hard power is purposefully used. Soft power is helpful in creating space for and sustaining hard power options. A strategy that rests only on soft power resources to achieve national interests is flawed.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Africa received extensive attention in the Indian media. Prime Minister Singh attended the second India-Africa Forum Summit in Addis Ababa on May 24th and 25th and visited Tanzania thereafter. The visit was used not only to demonstrate India’s commitment to Africa’s development needs but also highlight the strategy of engagement. As observed by Sudha Ramachandran, “India’s partnering in Africa’s development while laudable is not wholly altruistic”; it serves India’s diverse foreign policy interests. The strategy, however, is of greater significance. The focus is no longer limited to competing with China but on demonstrating the difference in partnership approaches pursued by India and China. Jairam Ramesh, India’s Minister for Environment and Forests, had referred to this difference during the First India-Africa Forum Summit in 2008 when he stated that, “The first principle of India’s involvement in Africa is unlike that of China. China says go out and exploit the natural resources, our strategy is to add value.”
At TEDIndia, Shashi Tharoor, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs shared his views on what makes India a leading soft power across the globe. In Tharoor’s words, “In today’s world, it’s not the size of the army that wins. It’s the country that tells a better story”. And India through it pluralism and social development at home and over-arching reach of its cultural components abroad has been telling better stories, stories wrapped in awe and admiration that continue to surprise many across the globe.
For Tharoor, India is not a nationalism of ethnicity or religion, but nationalism of an idea. India is not a land where all people agree and abide by a consensus; but all agree on the ground rules of how to disagree and live without consensus.
Tharoor come across as one of the rare, articulate and knowledgeable politicians in India. No wonder he contents that Governments usually don’t tell the best stories. It takes a story writer and intellectual like Tharoor to voice an evident but understated fact about India’s potential.
Shashi Tharoor’s TEDIndia speech – a must listen for all Indians!