Soft Power

What do you understand by “soft power” – often referred to India? Critically examine the potential and limits of “soft power” status. (200 Words)

The term ‘soft power’ was defined by Joseph Nye as ‘ the ability to get what you want through attraction instead of coercion or payment.’ According to Nye, a country soft
power rests on three resources –
  • its culture,
  • its political values and
  • its foreign policies.
In case of India, soft power potential is large and largely stems from our past which had seen rich kingdoms, diverse culture, voluminous trade, philosophy and religion. Equally important is our present culture like Bollywood, cricket, literature, financial aid and political values like democracy and Non-Alignment.
Soft power becomes important in dealing with immediate neighbours. For example we have Buddhist cultural linkages with Nepal, Bhutan, SE Asia, Japan, China, etc. Ancient South Indian kings had influence up to Indonesia in trade and sovereignty. Our Vedas were compiled in what is today a belligerent neighbour whose culture on the other hand, was born in India. Sri Lanka is connected to us since Lord Ram.
Middle East has a large number of Indian working and remitting huge foreign exchanges. A large Indian Diaspora lives in the US, Canada and Europe. All these people have successfully created a good image of India and brought their culture in an alien land.
Bollywood films, Yoga, literature, Indian dresses, cuisines and indigenously made Indian goods enjoy patronage amongst residents worldwide. Tourism has further bolstered our rich legacy and present. Besides, our values and principles like belief in democracy, non-alignment, humanitarian assistance, etc. have always struck a chord with maximum nations.
So we have immense potential as a soft power and this could be leveraged into generating favourable opinion and backing at the international level for safeguarding our legitimate interests. It is only apt that we have initiated Project Mausam to integrate ourselves better with Indian Ocean nations.
However, there are certain limitations to the use of soft power as a tool. No matter how closely connected we are on a cultural basis, economic and geo -political issues and alignments are tough to be outweighed by using soft power. For example, India and Pakistan are culturally very same but not otherwise. Use of soft power is a time taking process and not necessarily yields favourable results. It also has to face soft powers of other nations like growing Westernization in a consumer-centric world is not exactly conducive to elements of our culture.
Thus, soft power can definitely be used in foreign policy but not to be solely depended upon.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top