Monday, May 23, 2016

Indian Public Diplomacy and Challenges for Pakistan

Sabeen Jabbar,

uncaptioned image from article

President Obama gave statement that, India is not emerging it has emerged. In many ways it is true that India has growing GDP and India has also rising soft image in world. In the 21st Century, Public diplomacy is considered as an important tool to present state’s soft image in the world. Broadly speaking public diplomacy is communication with foreign people to establish a dialogue to influence. In case of India, it struggled a lot to show its potency in the fields of military, defence and economic as well. India is considered as emerged soft power in South Asia and World. India’s growing economic and its defacto nuclear status given by the US have altered the external perceptions of India.

The undercurrent of India’s public diplomacy is to show India as undeniable rising power through which India demands the permanent seat of Security Council. In past decades, India has invested more resources in public diplomacy, using traditional and new approaches to shape public opinion. India has well placed soft power resources because of its rich culture, history, technological advancement and democratic credentials, which helped India in building its image.

India is also regarded as ‘Cultural Super Power’ because its civilization and culture creates an interest and appeal for India abroad. In representing Indian culture, Indian media plays an important role as it shows Indian culture in an attractive way for foreign public. And India’s entertainment industry and bollywood have also given India an edge over many other countries in the world, and also enhanced India’s image. Bollywood films are viewed by audiences in more than 70 countries. In 2013, the Indian entertainment and media industry was worth 29 billion dollars. Indian movies, dance, art, music became base of India’s growing soft power.

The contribution of Indian authors to English literature has also been credited in increasing awareness and interest about Indian culture and society. Indian diaspora has played a pivotal role in shaping up positive policies towards India in many countries, especially the United States. In information age the free Indian press and thriving mass media has created an extraordinary ability for India through it can show images and stories in more persuasive and attractive way rather than its rivals. India is also competing with soft power of other countries like China, because China also expands its influence gradually all over the world, but India has an advantage over China because of its soft power resources. A world largest democracy with huge entertainment industry and media gave advantage to India’s soft power over China.

Since 2000, Ministry of External Affairs of India had taken many initiatives in promoting their public diplomacy. Their main aim is to educate and influence global and domestic opinion and show a positive image of their state in international world. India’s close relations with US has helped India in building their soft image because they got the favour of US and being the world’s largest democracy India has a political influence in the world. To promote public diplomacy, Indian government has started many campaigns and programs like ‘Know India’ programme which aims to show India’s development and its interest all over the world.

The ‘Brand India’ is another important campaign that promotes Indian soft image. The main aim and objective of this campaign is to build positive economic perceptions of India globally. Along with this, Indian government is giving importance to shared educational and cultural programmes. Under this programme, it provides aid to different countries of Africa and Asia.

India’s perception in the world is changing with technological advancement, rising soft power, military capability and economic growth. India can achieve only certain targets through public diplomacy but the internal contradictions of the country cannot be hidden. Ever increasing poverty in India is a big question mark for Indian government. Mounting humanitarian crisis, persistent gender inequality, increasing rape incidents, and surge in cases of human rights violations are the main impediments to a successful Indian public diplomacy.

In recent years, human rights violation cases in large number have been reported in India. Especially under Modi government, rights of minority groups particularly Muslims were frequently violated. Due to these incidents, people in large number came on streets to protests against Mohdi government in many European countries. Still India has an advantage because of its soft image, due to which international community particularly the UN did not put sanctions or any kind of pressure on India.

If we compare Pakistan with India, our country is far behind in building its soft image in the world. Pakistan should give importance to public diplomacy because states are moving toward soft power in order to achieve their interests and goals. Pakistani government should take positive and useful initiatives in order to promote its soft image. Media can play important role in Pakistan by representing its culture because media is very strong tool in persuasion of public diplomacy. It can help in promoting the positive image. But unfortunately, media is working far away. In order to compete India in the region and the world at large, Pakistani government should spend more resources on public diplomacy, to show country’s better image in the world.

The author is a student of BS, Defense and Diplomatic Studies at FJWU, Rawalpindi.

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