India’s Growing Soft Power in ASEAN

Opinion | India’s Growing Soft Power in ASEAN

This Article First Appeared In News 18 On Dec 24, 2022

On 11 December, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, while addressing an event as part of Kashi Tamil Sangamam on ‘Contribution of temples to society and nation building’, said that India is working to restore the world’s largest Hindu temple site — the Angkor Wat temple complex — in Cambodia. The initiative is not a standalone event; rather, it is a part of the cultural diplomacy practised by the Narendra Modi government.

“The cultural diplomacy of the Modi government is focused on creating, rebuilding, and restoring our rich traditions for the benefit of the entire world. This is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” Jaishankar said. He further stated that the Indian civilisation is not limited to India but is spread across various countries.

For India to become a civilisational superpower, apart from economic and military might, cultural and trade-related might is equally important, which is often called soft power. South-East Asia, usually called the ASEAN group of countries, is a natural destination to practice soft power. In the words of Joseph Nye, who coined the word ‘soft power’, this depends on ‘its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when others see them as legitimate and having moral authority).’

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