India needs to flex its soft muscles

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by ajtr, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    India needs to flex its soft muscles

    The Chinese Communist Party is obsessed with building ''soft power'' - the attractiveness of China's civilisation, culture, values and political system - as well as ensuring China is respected and admired for its achievements since reforms began in 1978.

    In contrast, India puts little emphasis on promoting the country's historical, economic, political and cultural credentials to the world. Its appreciation for the value of ''cultural diplomacy'' is poor. The mere mention of India as a great power usually evokes chuckles from an Australian audience. Although loathe to admit it, New Delhi would do well to learn lessons from Beijing about the importance of selling its strengths and achievements to the world.

    One is the sheer amount of economic and human resources Beijing devotes to shaping its messages and selling its story. China has funded more than 270 Confucius institutes in 75 countries, teaching Mandarin and the party's version of history to more than 100 million foreigners. Beijing aims to have 1000 institutes running by 2020. In contrast, India has 24 cultural centres in 21 countries functioning under its missions abroad
    Beijing's diplomatic charm offensive has been in place since the mid-1990s. At present, China has more diplomats than any other country in the world - including America. In China's state-dominated society, diplomats are chosen from the cream of the crop and are given extensive language and cultural training.

    According to some estimates, Beijing dispatches more diplomatic, business and cultural delegations to all corners of the region each year than all other Asian countries combined. In contrast, foreigners complain about the aloofness, ineffectiveness and bureaucratic stubbornness of many of India's diplomatic staff. For a country with a gross domestic product of about $US1.3 trillion ($1.5 trillion) and a population of almost 1.2 billion, official Indian delegations are small, infrequent and poorly utilised.

    Indian diplomats might protest that China has significantly more resources at its disposal - its economy is three times larger and its state-dominated model places more resources into the hands of the party.

    But the point is about purpose and intent in promoting a country's soft power - an ambition Beijing has in spades. China measures its progress in terms of ''comprehensive national power'', which goes beyond the size of its economy and military, and includes other ''softer'' capabilities such as the reputation of its economic and political system.

    Favourable impressions of the country's achievements have been carefully crafted by image-obsessed party officials. Compared to China, India is seen as a place of disorder, inequality and inefficiency. Yet Western commentators remain largely unaware there were 124,000 instances of ''mass unrest'' against the government in China in 2008 according to official figures - far more than in India.

    China is now the most unequal place in all of Asia in terms of distribution of income, and absolute levels of poverty have increased since 2000. China has far superior infrastructure but India still uses capital 50 per cent more efficiently than China.


    This is not to deny India has enormous social and economic problems. The argument is about the importance of soft power and taking the foreign reputation of one's country seriously. Beijing is highly skilled at promoting its achievements and concealing its failings from Western eyes. In contrast, India's failings are openly displayed and New Delhi puts little emphasis on promoting the country's recent achievements, which are considerable.

    But if India's open society makes centrally crafted messages to highlight achievements and conceal weaknesses much more difficult, it does offer a significant advantage over countries such as China.

    Despite Beijing's efforts, the re-emergence of authoritarian China gives rise to as much apprehension as admiration. But regional capitals view democratic India as an attractive, co-operative and non-threatening country, and New Delhi's domestic habits of transparency, negotiation and compromise will influence the way a powerful India interacts with others.

    While few countries trust China, the eagerness to help India continue to rise is demonstrated by the rapid progress made in its strategic and military partnerships with countries such as the US, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Australia.

    India is a rising and ambitious power but its re-emergence has failed to excite the collective imagination. This does not change the potential of India's soft power - enormous compared to China's. India will meet little resistance as it is rising within the existing normative order.

    But New Delhi's lackadaisical approach to promoting Indian leadership, image and achievements is frustrating for the people who realise the country's importance to the region as a democratic leader and a constraint on Chinese ambitions.
     
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  3. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    One is the sheer amount of economic and human resources Beijing devotes to shaping its messages and selling its story.
    +++++++++++++++++++++
    that's nothing unique. South Korea and earlier Japan is doing far better than China in self promotion or selling 'stories'. Many youngsters are overwhelmed by S Korea's 'culture' (soft 'power')

    don't understand why China is picked up for such comparisons. there're far better 'role models', needless to mention China's headaches - wealth distribution, social unrests, and worst of all, many Chinese are not confident about China's strength
     
  4. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    I thought many chinese believe the CCP's propaganda that China is a superpower.With that in mind they troll left right and center
     
  5. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    I thought many chinese believe the CCP's propaganda that China is a superpower.With that in mind they troll left right and center
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    Man, let's be fair
    1) propaganda - not always total propaganda, isn't it a fact China is a power if not super enough?
    2) regardless of ideology all Chinese wish to see a prosperous China (CCP or Left or Right or Centre)
    3) so far I say CCP has done a good job
     
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  6. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    being fair the CCP under Deng did a good job .One leader who truly loved his people.

    b)the regardless of ideology part many mainland chinese posters, think they can conquer occupy whole of asia (China is no where yet near the power of the erstwhile USSR had)

    c)One can't predict the future nobody expected india to be on the world map as a formidable power 25 years ago nor noone expected China to be its current position when the gang of four were wrecking havoc in 1974
     
  7. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    many mainland chinese posters, think they can conquer occupy whole of asia (China is no where yet near the power of the erstwhile USSR had)

    +++++++++++++
    u know in cyber world lots of netizens take the chance to have a free ride on wild imagination.

    conquest of Asia? sounds like an online game?? as if u were Genghis Khan.

    back to this thread on 'soft muscles' or 'soft power', I think it's very meaningful - to change steorotyped Chinese image - perhaps hawkish or stiff or paranoid or perhaps greedy.

    like what Japan did and is doing China's colleges are granting more and more scholarships to students from the 3rd world. once back home with Chinese knowledge, generosity, and hopitality, those students hopefully will become ambassadors of friendship.

    and Confucius Institutes - to make Chinese culture and language a fashion, like once in my city everybody was impressed by Japanese movies (Japanese tenacity and perseverence, Japanese Pop Stars, Japanese songs, kimono, samurai...) and Jpanese language schools mushroomed. every young man yearned for study in Japan.

    Back further to my parents' generation my father recalled in their time there was a saying 'USSR's today is our tomorrow'. the Soviet Union once was also very successful in soft power nurturing a whole generation believing it was our role model in modernizing and tranforming China (their educational system, movies, music and literature, and lifestyle and even ideology).

    A lot more can be achieved through flexing soft muscles.
     

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