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IS INDIA'S SOFT POWER EBBING AWAY ?

Updated: Dec 17, 2021



EVENT DATE : 14 NOVEMBER


· The debate began with an explanation of what soft power is, Dr Chaulia explained that soft power is the ability to get others to do what you want them to do, he argues that you cannot buy nor can you impose soft power. He also brought in another important concept called ‘sharp power’ which is a mixture of both hard and soft power.


· Amb. Rana argues that sharp power is a concept that is relevant only in the American scenario. He argues that soft power needs to be deployed and says ‘What is called soft power is actually not power’. He then gave a strong critique of the many indexes which measure soft power and said many of these indexes have vested interests and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Dr Rana argues that military and soft power cannot be put together and are two very different concepts.


· Amb Prakash agrees with Amb Rana that many of the indexes to measure soft power are bogus and do not stand the test of credibility. He further argues that there is almost a ‘cottage industry’ of people who only want to bash India and show India in a bad light. He argues that soft power is important because it makes your point of view palatable. He goes on to argue that the soft power of any country is largely dependent on the economic power of the country and the ‘attractiveness’ of a country is because of the economic power of that country. He says that India, in the first fifty years of our independence did not have enough economic growth and development in order to have soft power. He says soft power is not a ‘magic wand’. He also credits our diaspora across the world, for projecting our soft power. He ends by arguing that political values do not matter as much as economic might when it comes to soft power.


· Dr Anshul argues that soft power is the act of seduction. After Independence, India’s transition into a democracy was greatly appreciated across the world, and this was a part of India’s appeal. He states that Gandhian thought and Gandhian ideals are also a huge part of our soft power. “Culture comes on the back of economics” was his main argument and he attacks the current Government under Prime Minister Modi for reducing the amount of soft power India has. He says that the fall in our GDP has reduced our Influence. He argues that the Prime Minister speaks about India’s diversity abroad but paints a different picture at home. He says that the moral authority that India had, ended in 2014. Dr Anshul also attacked the Government for the COVID-19 Pandemic and argues that images of funeral pyres were shown across the world and the Government did not have any control over the Pandemic, all of this greatly impacted our soft power. He also argues that the international community will talk well with us and welcome us, simply because they are interested in our economy.


· Dr Chaulia argues that soft power and hard power go hand in hand. He argues that India’s influence has not reduced in the world. In fact, India was elected to a non-permanent seat in the UNSC with 184 out of 192 countries voting for us in 2020, this shows that the international community has full faith in India. He also cites the example of various countries helping us during the second wave of the COVID19 Virus to argue that India is still loved across the world. He argues that “The world cannot afford for India to fail”. Dr Chaulia also states that people across the world want India to be assertive and nationalistic and that the general political tilt in the world has been towards Nationalism, India too is heading in that direction.


· Dr Rana says he strongly believes that China does not have adequate soft power, mainly because their own house is not in order, even though they spend huge amounts on public diplomacy. Dr Chaulia too argues that China is universally not liked. Amb Prakash too believes that Chinas ranking in many soft power indexes are high due to the money that goes into it


· Amb Prakash then elucidated on the point that soft power is not as attractive as economic power. He argues that the stock of India has never been higher. He believes that no country got Afghanistan correct and it would be wrong to judge India’s soft power based on what happened in Afghanistan because every country got Afghanistan wrong, it was not only India.


· Dr Avijit states that critiquing the Government is now being viewed as critiquing the nation and this is wrong. He argues that whenever India’s ranking in various global indexes are low, the government immediately says the index is not credible. He argues India cannot be selective when it comes to media projections and our rankings in various Indexes. He argues that the Government is ‘paranoid’.


· Amb Prakash argues that it is okay for us to be selective when it comes to foreign media projection and that India is rising and as we rise, we will be critiqued. He argues that criticism is welcome but negative articles are not.


· Dr Chaulia too argues that international news has a political agenda and should not be taken at face value. He states that it is a good move that India is planning on launching an international news channel and that this will help our project our views better. He also states that India should do more to project our spiritual heritage.


· Amb Rana however disagrees with India launching an international news channel and says that there will not be enough viewers for it! He counters Dr Chaulias point that the government should do more to promote our spiritual heritage and says that spiritual organizations do a better job and we should let them take care of promoting themselves.

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