India's soft power

The soft power was first used in the 1980’s by Joseph Nye. The term "soft power" refers to the of a country to influence others to do what it wants without force or coercion. Soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of soft power is that it is noncoercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies. Soft power is now widely acknowledged for its importance and invoked in foreign policy debates.

India’s soft power extends beyond cuisine, Yoga and Bollywood. India has been providing financial assistance to smaller neighbours such as Nepal and Bhutan since 1947. India has been viewed as a leader against colonialism in Asia and in Africa. It was considered the leader in the Non Aligned Movement and has consistently provided technical assistance, training as well as foreign aid to these Asian and African states.

India’s soft power can broadly encompass cultural and institutional soft power resources. This is provided a good foundation by the large Indian diaspora in many countries. The Indian diaspora which is part of India’s colonial legacy, has grown many fold recently as Indians have traveled around the world for higher education and employment opportunities. Indian soft power includes Indian sports with the popularity of Kabaddi being one recent manifestation of this. Indian music made popular by Beatles and Pandit Ravishankar is now popular thanks to Indian films led by Bollywood. Indian art, film, literature, beauty pageantry, anti-colonial history, democratic institutions, free press, independent judiciary, vibrant civil society, multi-ethnic polity, secularism, pluralism, skilled English-speaking workers, food, handicrafts, yoga, status as a responsible nuclear power, the rapid growth of the information technology sector in places such as Bangalore. Indian soft skills are also promoted by prominent Indian personalities be it the CEO’s of global companies like Indira Nooyi, Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella or film personalities like Priyanka Chopra.

  • Cuisine
  • Yoga centers
  • Music
  • Bollywood
  • Sanskrit
Indian spices have always evoked exotic memories from the time of the Europeans coming to India in search of spices. Indian spices have seen an increased demand more recently as Indian cuisine and culture is becoming popular globally and even mainstream in many countries. Spices like Ajwain, Dalchini, Cloves, Black cardamom, star anise, Dhania and tamarind seeds are among the more popular. In the US, thanks in part to the large Indian-American community, Indian spices have even captured popular imagination by featuring in films like Mistress Of Spices and Today's Special and many popular television serials such as Outsourced and The Big Bang Theory.

Indian cuisine have grown in familiarity and popularity thanks to Indian communities in most cities around the world and with an concomitant increase in Indian restaurants globally. Indian foods such as kebabs, chicken tikka masala, biryani, curries, masala dosa and Indian breads like the roti and naan are immensely popular and now available as packaged food in mainstream grocery stores in countries like the UK, USA, Canada, the Middle East and even China. This reflects the soft-power that India has abroad through its food.

  • While one perhaps would be of the opinion that the chicken tikka masala or kebabs would be the most popular Indian dish across the globe, a food survey conducted recently stated that the South Indian Masala dosa is the one Indian dish every global citizen must try before they die!
  • In Britain, so popular is Indian food that the curry and chicken tikka masala is synonymous as the national dish, beating traditional favourites like shepard's pie and fish and chips.
  • Indian spice markets offering saffron, cardamom, cloves and mustard have made a splash, beating the popular Middle Eastern spice souks and are now available even in regular grocery stores in many big cities.
  • Many fast food chains owned by Indians across the globe have reinvented sandwiches and pita pockets to serve naanwiches, where they stuff naan breads with popular Indian gravies like butter chicken, chicken tikka, vegetable kadhai and paneer makhanwala.
  • Indian cuisine is among the top 10 most preferred food by global travelers while on holidays, according to a new worldwide food survey by
    About five per cent of international travelers preferred Indian cuisine when on holiday, the survey that covered over 27,000 travelers said today.
  • United states: There are 294 Indian restaurants in New york cities, the five boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Bronx.
  • United Kingdom:
    • According to Mintel reports, Indian restaurants is £ 1733 million industry in Britain which is more than two third of the total food industry in Britain.
    • It is one of the biggest industries in Britain employing over 60,000 people.
    • There are over 8500 Indian restaurants in UK.
  • Canada: Indian cuisine is widely available in Canada, in the cities of Toronto and Vancouver, where the majority of Canadians of South Asian heritage live.
  • China:
    • There are many Indian restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.
    • Hong Kong alone has more than 50 Indian restaurants.
    • Most of the Indian restaurants in Hong Kong are in Tsim Sha Tsui.
  • Australia: In the 2007 census there are 5,497 restaurants claiming to be Indian.

  • Yoga refers to a series of interrelated ancient Hindu spiritual practices that originated in India, where it remains a vibrant living tradition. Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems (darshans) of Indian philosophy. Its influence has been widespread among many other schools of Indian thought.
  • Centers in the world.
  • In North France, disciples of Swami Satyananda Saraswati have founded an institution called "Research on Yoga in Education", (R.Y.E).
  • The practice of yoga in the classroom has been accepted by the various educational systems in Europe because they have found that with the practice of specific asana and pranayama, the student can develop his intellect, his memory, his ability to retain information which is being constantly fed into the brain, and the ability to express what he knows.
  • South America, yoga is taught to the priests, nuns and monks of various Christian denominations in their monasteries, convents and schools.
  • Yogic training has picked up a lot of force in the United States of America, in Australia, in Europe and in some parts of South America - Swamis go to various prisons and teach the long-term and short-term prisoners.
  • Bollywood sold 3.6 billion tickets and had total revenues (theater tickets, DVDs and so on.) of US$1.3 billion, whereas the Hollywood films sold 2.6 billion tickets and generated total revenues (again from all formats) of US$51 billion.
  • Films produced in Bollywood movies(1,013) is more than the Hollywood movies (739).
  • Annual growth rate of Bollywood movies is 12.6% which is more than the Hollywood movies annual growth rate of 5.6%.
  • Africa : Indian films largely cater to the expatriate Indian market yearning to keep in touch with their homeland, in West Africa, as in many other parts of the world, such movies rose in popularity despite the lack of a significant Indian audience, where movies are about an alien culture, based on a religion wholly different, and, for the most part, a language that is unintelligible to the viewers.
  • North America :
    • Bollywood has experienced a marked growth in revenue in Canada and the United States, particularly popular amongst the South Asian communities in large cities such as Toronto, Chicago and New York City.
    • In September 2005 that Bollywood films in the United States earn around $100 million a year through theater screenings, video sales and the sale of movie soundtracks.
    • Bollywood Films from India do more business in the U.S than films from any other non-English speaking country.
  • Europe :
    • The awareness of Hindi cinema is substantial in the United Kingdom. Bollywood is also appreciated in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. where they frequently enter the UK top ten.
    • The popularity of Bollywood in the CIS dates back to the Soviet days when the films from Hollywood and other Western countries were banned in the Soviet Union. As there was no means of other cheap entertainment, the films from Bollywood provided the Soviets a cheap source of entertainment as they were supposed to be non-controversial and non-political.
    • The films from Bollywood also strengthened family values, which was a big factor for their popularity with the government authorities in the Soviet Union.
  • Asia :
    • Bollywood movies are popular in Afghanistan due to the country's proximity to the Indian subcontinent and cultural perspectives present in the movies.
    • Imported Indian films are usually subtitled in Arabic upon the film's release. Since the early 2000s, Bollywood has progressed in Israel. Special channels dedicated to Indian films have been displayed on cable television. Bollywood films are popular in Southeast Asia (particularly in Maritime Southeast Asia) and Central Asia (particularly in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan).
    • Bollywood films are widely appreciated in East Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and etc. Some Hindi movies had success in the China and South Korea, Japan in the 1940s and 1950s and are popular till today.

Source: Wikipedia
  • Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world, and mother of all Indo-European languages. Rishis discovered Sanskrit and used it to create the mantras that were made up of a combination of sound vibrations to create specific effect on the mind and the psyche, when recited. It is the language of the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas. It is literally means 'cities of the gods'
  • Sanskrit is a scientific and systematic language. Its grammar is perfect and has attracted scholars worldwide except regrettably in India.
  • Sanskrit literature is national in one sense, but its purpose has been universal. That was why it commanded the attention of people who were not followers of a particular culture.
  • In 25 years, an estimated 7 million people have attended spoken Sanskrit classes offered by Samskrita Bharati in India and abroad.
  • North America - primarily the US - has the largest number of Sanskrit academic institutions, according to the list.
  • Sanskrit is being taught as an Indo-European language in dozens of universities in the US. Hindi and Sanskrit are the most popular South Asian languages.
  • Sanskrit are being taught in several cities of Germany, including universities in Heidelberg, Leipzig, Humboldt and Bonn, for a few decades now.
  • Spoken Sanskrit is enjoying a revival - both in India and among Indian expatriates in the United States. There is even evidence of Sanskrit emerging in American popular culture as more and more people roll out yoga mats at the local gym and greet one another with "Namaste."

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