Symposium on “The Role of Soft Power in India’s Foreign Policy” at Central University of Odisha

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Report by Nishapati Nayak, Koraput: A Symposium on “The Role of Soft Power in India’s Foreign Policy” was organized by the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication under the Central University of Orissa on 23rd of March 2017 at the Permanent Campus at Sunabeda. It was inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty. Dr. Jitendra Nath Mishra, IFS (Retd.), former ambassador to Portugal delivered the symposium lecture.
The welcome address was given by the in-charge of the department, Dr. Pradosh. K. Rath. Professor Sachidananda Mohanty, Vice-Chancellor, CUO delivered the presidential address. He highlighted the idea of culture as soft power. Cross-cultural programs result in mutual understanding. And that is the essence of Soft Power, he pointed out.
Faculty member of the department of J &MC, Ms. Talat Jahan Begum gave a brief introduction of the ambassador, Dr. Mishra.

Ambassador, Dr. Jitendra Nath Mishra threw light on concepts of hard power and soft power. Cultural diplomacy and soft power are not the same thing. Cultural diplomacy is about starting a dialogue while soft power is not. The term soft power was coined by Prof. Joseph Nye. Soft Power uses persuasion unlike hard power that uses Coercion and force. But the objective of both sorts of power is the same.

Food, Music, Films, Yoga, Dance, Cricket, Cuisines, Innovations are examples of India’s soft power resources. Dr. Mishra in his talk spoke on India’s historical ties with other parts of the world. The Bali Jatra of Odisha was also cited. Indian influences worldwide were extensions of soft power, he reminded.

There are again two kinds of soft power. One is that happens on its own and the other one is sponsored by the government. Our economic models, the global success of Indian IT firms are example of soft power. Soft Power has great potential for India and her foreign policy. India is on the verge of becoming a global power. India’s diversity is her strength and the democratic set-up is her soft power. The ministry of External Affairs has put soft power in its outreach programs. Students who are meritorious are invited from developing nations to study in India. Infrastructure supports, project set-ups and soft loans, cinema and television are contemporary examples. Bollywood and Indian Diaspora are widespread.

Culture has no boundaries, it moves around like water. Study of history helps appreciate role of culture as a unifying force. Dr. Mishra described experiences from nations like Vietnam, Portugal and Laos where he had served. Festivals like Holi and Diwali have attracted foreigners worldwide. The classical dance form ‘Odissi’ from Odisha state is quite popular among people from other nations. Culture is less controversial. It wins over people. It promotes friendship worldwide. It opens doors for dialogues.
The government has energized India’s soft culture. There is a need to integrate soft power of India in our foreign policy. The tremendous potential must be harnessed in international relations. We must be legitimately proud of our soft power, he advised.

The Symposium included an interactive session with students and other members of the audience. Mr. Sujit Kumar Mohanty, faculty member of the department delivered the vote of thanks. Faculty members of the department, Ms. Sony Parhi and Mr. Sourav Gupta assisted in smooth conduct of the program. The entire program was compeered by student, Padmaja Priyadarshinee.

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