Shashi Tharoor: Soft power can make us a global leader

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by Daredevil, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Redirected to : http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...bal-leadership-shashi-tharoor.html#post572877

    Shashi Tharoor: Soft power can make us a global leader

    Kolkata: India's soft power remains its biggest strength in being a global leader but strict visa rules have dented the country's image abroad, writes former Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor in his new book.

    "Today's India truly enjoys soft power, and that may well be the most valuable way in which it can offer leadership to the twenty-first-century world," says Tharoor in "Pax Indica" which discusses India's international relationships.

    Observing that soft power has grown naturally on the country's soil, he says India benefits from the future and the past from the international appeal of its traditional practices (from Ayurveda to yoga, both accelerating in popularity across the globe) and the transformed image of the country created by its thriving diaspora.

    According to the Congress MP, who was a top diplomat in the United Nations till 2009, India has however not been able to fully leverage its soft power because of its "inability" to exploit its own democratic traditions of freedom.

    "India's inability to promote and leverage its soft power in the world will receive a major boost only if and when the country's visa policy is thoroughly re-examined and, ideally, revised," the best-selling author of books like "The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone" argues.

    Visa processes, already time-consuming, unnecessarily demanding and expensive, have become far more cumbersome as a result of the government's reaction to 26/11 Mumbai attacks, he observes.

    "If soft power is about making your country attractive to others, the Indian bureaucracy seems determined to do everything in its power to achieve the opposite effect, in the way in which it treats foreigners wishing to travel to or reside in India," Tharoor says.

    Published by Penguin, the book cites various examples to prove that India's soft power is not depended on any official government policy but is rather an unplanned by-product of the normal emanations of the Indian culture.

    Whether it is the oversees popularity of Bollywood films, TV soap operas, popular Indian culture or the strength of our IT industry, all have made their own contribution to India's soft power.

    "When Americans in Silicon Valley speak of the IITs with the same reverence they used to accord to MIT, and the Indianness of engineers and software developers is taken as synonymous with mathematical and scientific excellence, it is India that gains in respect," writes Tharoor, a recipient of Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

    "India's democracy, our thriving free media, our contentious civil society forums, our energetic human rights groups and the repeated spectacle of our remarkable general elections, all have made India a rare example of successful management of diversity in the developing world," he adds.

    Demystifying the world of international diplomacy with a lucid language, the book evokes the country's soft power and its global responsibilities.
     
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  3. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    A total anti-thesis to Civfanatic's hard vs soft power article. :D
     
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  4. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    Soft power is certainly a powerful tool and the hostile visa rules are undoubtedly dumb. However the inverse relationship as presented by Tharoor is a bit overstated. The dumb visa laws aren't really the problem in of themselves and soft power no matter how appealing can never turn a non global leader into one, it can at best supplant the illusion of a global leader.

    The visa issue merely highlights the actual problem... the inability to design and implement good policies. It is also true that the diaspora here tries its best to give off a great impression about India; probably due to a mixture of the genetically built in sense of nationalism and the dire need to reclaim some glory. However neither the efforts of the diaspora nor soft power can compensate for the lack of a functioning establishment or the dilapidated infrastructure, or the poor business culture/ environment that turns off investors.

    What I do agree wholeheartedly is that the government is the problem and not the solution. Here again we see how the roles of the government and the people are confused. The GOI, in their attempt to imitate China is trying to be the flag bearer of India Inc. The problem however is that unlike China, India's strength lies not in its government but its people. What the government really needs to do is concentrate on its actual job, which is to design intelligent policy, implement law and order, and build a state of the art infrastructure and leave India inc. to its true proponents... the Indian people.

    This means the government needs to create the proper environment which supports the outbound efforts of India Inc, and attract investments into India Inc from abroad. However a closer look at the policies and the overall outlook of the Indian government makes it clear that they are doing the exact opposite. And sadly hip gyrating bollywood numbers and yoga isn't going to correct this inherent flaw.
     
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  5. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    More than India, it is the Chinese who need a dose of Mr. Tharoor's soft power theory.
    They are in a better position to leverage this method of projection.
    But they need to be a bit soft on the inside if they have to look soft from outside :)
    I think our immediate environment suggests against anymore emphasis of being a soft power and it is tricky to be applied selectively.

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
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  6. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    Soft Power may take India to Global Leadership - Shashi Tharoor

    Shashi Tharoor is still pioneering for the cause he has invested into for long. Projection of Indian image at the global stage.
    After lectures, guest talks and other liaisons, he comes with a new book this time.

    Shashi Tharoor: Soft power can make us a global leader | NDTV.com

    Kolkata: India's soft power remains its biggest strength in being a global leader but strict visa rules have dented the country's image abroad, writes former Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor in his new book.

    "Today's India truly enjoys soft power, and that may well be the most valuable way in which it can offer leadership to the twenty-first-century world," says Tharoor in "Pax Indica" which discusses India's international relationships.

    Observing that soft power has grown naturally on the country's soil, he says India benefits from the future and the past from the international appeal of its traditional practices (from Ayurveda to yoga, both accelerating in popularity across the globe) and the transformed image of the country created by its thriving diaspora.

    According to the Congress MP, who was a top diplomat in the United Nations till 2009, India has however not been able to fully leverage its soft power because of its "inability" to exploit its own democratic traditions of freedom.

    "India's inability to promote and leverage its soft power in the world will receive a major boost only if and when the country's visa policy is thoroughly re-examined and, ideally, revised," the best-selling author of books like "The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone" argues.

    Visa processes, already time-consuming, unnecessarily demanding and expensive, have become far more cumbersome as a result of the government's reaction to 26/11 Mumbai attacks, he observes.

    "If soft power is about making your country attractive to others, the Indian bureaucracy seems determined to do everything in its power to achieve the opposite effect, in the way in which it treats foreigners wishing to travel to or reside in India," Tharoor says.

    Published by Penguin, the book cites various examples to prove that India's soft power is not depended on any official government policy but is rather an unplanned by-product of the normal emanations of the Indian culture.

    Whether it is the oversees popularity of Bollywood films, TV soap operas, popular Indian culture or the strength of our IT industry, all have made their own contribution to India's soft power.

    "When Americans in Silicon Valley speak of the IITs with the same reverence they used to accord to MIT, and the Indianness of engineers and software developers is taken as synonymous with mathematical and scientific excellence, it is India that gains in respect," writes Tharoor, a recipient of Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

    "India's democracy, our thriving free media, our contentious civil society forums, our energetic human rights groups and the repeated spectacle of our remarkable general elections, all have made India a rare example of successful management of diversity in the developing world," he adds.

    Demystifying the world of international diplomacy with a lucid language, the book evokes the country's soft power and its global responsibilities.
     
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  7. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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  8. Jim Street

    Jim Street Regular Member

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    Re: Soft Power may take India to Global Leadership - Shashi Tharoor

    People are quite skeptical about India's soft power. But time will gradually show its importance. With more and more Indians settling in other countries especially west, there will be shift in approach of west regarding India.

    Many people often says that IITs are bit over-rated. may be they should research more about it. Then comes the NITs.

    One of my professor who taught in IITK for 30 years, told that foreign universities takes IITs and NITs competent of giving good post-graduate students and employees. People may be wondering about NITs, while he said that, for the west, these colleges are National institutes run by govt. is generally taken into account. I don't mean all NITs but there are many that are considered good. That professor did his PhD at Purdue Univ.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  9. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    Re: Soft Power may take India to Global Leadership - Shashi Tharoor

    On the other hand the West is seeing rise in the anti migration and anti-multicultural right wing. There will soon be a call for shedding the softness.
    Although I don't know how much heed they would pay to it, because as their powers wane they might opt for more of hard projection via military strength (like Russia) or more of soft projection for appeasement and avoid conflicts.
    It could swing the either way but this delicate balance or to say tradeoff between the two themes that they have right now, may not last for long.
    Watching this closely as it happens, would be a relevant tip for us to find out in parallel on our own problem of how much softness is enough.

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
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  10. Jim Street

    Jim Street Regular Member

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    Where did my recent post go ? :confused:
     
  11. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    Re: Soft Power may take India to Global Leadership - Shashi Tharoor

    India's soft power has already had a big reach since the late 90s early 00s; the problem is that over time people have realized that there isn't anything substantial backing that soft power. Soft power helps project a positive image, however unless it is backed up by hard evidence of cooperation and productivity the image is useless.

    Also I don't think anyone has ever doubted India's elite institutions; after all those institutions have consistently provided the West with a highly skilled workforce. What is highly doubted however is the rest of India's education infrastructure beyond the handful of elite universities which has failed to provide an adequately trained workforce that can participate in today's economy and be productive.

    Also as you can see foreign investment has waned over time because the age old problems of crippling bureaucracy and corruption still exist. Confidence drops significantly when it is evident that a country is unable to fix the most fundamental problems. Soft power cannot compensate for any of this.
     
  12. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    Tons of hardpower (gunpower) and moneypower are the two legs which Soft power needs to stand on..

    Without that it is just a cripple.
     
  13. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    Bollywood movies, yoga, Indian cuisine, etc. may be popular abroad, but that does not equate to "soft power". Real soft power comes from being able to attract, co-opt, and "pull" others towards you and having your ideologies, paradigms, and models adopted internationally. Having soft power is a prerequisite for becoming a global leader of any sort. The U.S. has true soft power because it is able to attract millions of immigrants with its values and institutions, and promote itself globally as a champion of capitalist democracy and the "American way", which is attractive to many in the Third World. Similarly, the Soviet Union had soft power because numerous governments and revolutionary movements around the world derived inspiration from the Marxist-Leninist model and these governments/movements looked towards the Soviet Union as the global leader of socialism. Ancient India also had considerable soft power, due to the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia and the emergence of Indian Buddhist universities like Nalanda and Vikramashila as international centers of learning, with India being regarded as the spiritual and educational center of the world.

    India in the present, however, has no soft power whatsoever, and will have to rely on hard power for the considerable future. This means focusing on internal development and expanding India's economic and military strength, rather than promoting an image of India which, quite frankly, is rather pathetic for the time being.
     
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  14. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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    Its a mistake to call pop culture (like Bollywood) as "soft power"

    Controversial example: if Iran calls for a jihad for shias against sunnis, many would answer. That is true soft power
     
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  15. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    A country with just hard power and no soft power can never become a world leader.
     
  16. Jim Street

    Jim Street Regular Member

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    Agreed but these legs will mean nothing if you want to slap a country or make friends. For that you need sound and brilliant mind and great relation building skills.
     
  17. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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    Also civfanatic's article if someone missed it

    The Future of Indian Power: Hard vs. Soft

     
  18. Jim Street

    Jim Street Regular Member

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    Number of Indian students in Western countries especially US are increasing every year while many US students can't due to high college fees, debts and burden of loans or simply don't want to . Indian students gets educational loans and as the population of Indian middle class is increasing along with its income, also add the higher class, Indian students can afford higher education and as number of such Indians increases every year, other countries students have to compete with Indians which is tough.Number of IITs and NITS have increased and students of these institutes are favored by many foreign professors.

    If you open any university's website , the number of post-graduate students are considerable. Many Indians are now Head or Senior at various research centers. So does in many Fortune 500 companies. And this number are going to increase due to factors mentioned above. This brings the advantage which is very hard to understand as it will affect gradually.

    Another interesting thing is Reverse Brain Drain.

    Due to stagnant Western economy and financial crisis, many Indians are returning back to India with experience, knowledge in cutting edge and advance technology and professionalism which will be positive for India while negative for West as they provided the knowledge and we took it back to our country rather in keeping it in West. China is already trying to woo its students in US to come to work in Chinese companies by offering comparable pay and advance research centers.To keep these Indians in West, companies have to pay more or promote as there will be shortage of local people in west, which will further improve our soft power.

    This trend, if works without any sudden negative disturbanve, will certainly become a major factor in policies of Western countries.

    The perfect example for effect of Soft power is Jews in US. They are at the top positions and owners of major companies. Fill in the rest of the story.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
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  19. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    You did not get my point. I said just soft power without any hard power to back it up is akin to a cripple. Just like you need hard gold to back up soft paper money.

    Moreover just like quantity itself has some quality, hard power itself has an innate soft power.
     
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  20. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    Not necessarily, post WWII pacifist Japan exerted a lot of soft power and the South Koreans seem to be headed that way now. A similar case can be made for pacifist Europe as well. I think civicfanatic captures it the best when he points out that real soft power comes from superior ideologies, paradigms and institutions that serve as models which others aspire to duplicate.

    India as usual has many such goodies to offer, however none of these institutions are functional because either they have been hijacked and/or Indians are unaware of its value.
     
  21. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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    Another example: When CPI's head says "China's chairman is our chairman" then that is true soft power.

    No foreigner will act for Indian interests simply by watching Bollywood trash and saas bahu serials
     

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