Soft Power Brief – (April – June 2019)

Foreign Policy Brief: Update on Bharat’s Soft Power

Apr – Jun 2019

This edition of the Foreign Policy Brief comes following the conclusion of India’s national elections in May. The BJP-led NDA secured a historic victory and Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister for the second time. His new term started with leaders of the BIMSTEC nations being invited for the swearing-in ceremony, signalling India’s strategic priorities. The electoral verdict also means that the principles of Panchamrit will continue to guide India’s foreign policy conduct for at least the next five years. This policy brief highlights India’s civilizational and soft power manifested in various events. It also brings to you the work of the Centre for Strategic and Foreign Relations at Vision India Foundation in the past three months.

Foreign Policy Updates:

Celebrating International Day of Yoga 
The International Day of Yoga is one of the greatest symbols of India’s soft power, celebrated every year on June 21. The idea was first proposed by PM Modi in 2014 at the UN General Assembly. The resolution, led by Ambassador Asoke Mukerji, received support from 177 nations, the highest number of co-sponsors for any UNGA resolution. Six years since then, yoga has not just been a global success but also witnessed modifications and innovations. Gautam Chikermane in this brilliant article talks of India reclaiming yoga, in its truest spiritual and intellectual sense. It reiterates that yoga, as an aspect of soft power is ‘India’s most impactful public good’.
Article: Observer Research FoundationThis Yoga day also saw the release of India’s yoga anthem – Yoganiyoga, a beautiful rendition in raga Dhrupad complimented by Bharatnatyam and yogasanas.

India-Indonesia Celebrate 70 Years of Diplomatic Relations
To commemorate seventy years of diplomatic partnership between India and Indonesia, Jakarta released a Ramayana themed stamp. The stamp depicts Jatayu’s fight against Ravana, in a bid to save Sita. Ramayana is an essential aspect of shared civilizational past between India and Indonesia. With New Delhi’s emphasizes on building soft power, India and Indonesia hold the potential of strategizing their civilizational past as integral to strengthened foreign policy.
Article: DailyO

PM Modi Conferred with the Highest Civilian award of UAE.
Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to be conferred with the Order of Zayed, the highest civilian decoration of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The medal was awarded for PM Modi’s exceptional leadership and initiatives in strengthening bilateral relations between India and the UAE. Since its establishment in 1995, The Order of Zayed has been awarded to state leaders of Russia, China and Japan, among other countries.
Article: Hindu BusinessLine

Opinion by Change-Agents:

The prevailing geopolitical environment has led New Delhi to re-thinks its foreign policy imperatives, particularly in its immediate neighbourhood. The following opinion pieces by the team for Strategic and Foreign Relations at VIF delve into the rising trends in India’s international relations.

  • BIMSTEC Reaffirms PM Modi-led Govt’s Strategic Focus in DNA India by Arunima Gupta
  • Sri Lanka Bombings and the Spearheading Arc of ISIS in India in IPP Review by Paras Ratna

Events at the Centre for Strategic and Foreign Relations
We at the Centre for Strategic and Foreign Relations (CSFR) are making concerted efforts in securing and strengthening India’s foreign policy interests through long-term measures. With this motivation, we organized the spring edition of the World Governance Expedition in April and curated a five-day elective on India’s foreign policy in June.
World Governance Expedition – Israel, April 2019
The spring edition of World Governance Expedition was organized to Israel by Vision India Foundation in partnership with the Embassy of Israel. Aimed at deepening the people-to-people relations, the Expedition adopted a multidisciplinary focus by introducing politics, policy, history, society and culture of Israel to the 20-member delegation. Interaction with the media and prominent think-tanks such as the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) helped delegates understand the civil society landscape, the local electoral dynamics among other sociopolitical issues. The delegation of young and motivated change-makers came from across India and the professional spectrum, thereby adding to the diverse perspectives of understanding governance and development.

Emerging Trends in India’s Foreign Policy, June 2019
Arunima Gupta, Manager and Paras Ratna, Associate Manager at the Centre for Strategic and Foreign Relations delivered a five-day module on India’s foreign policy during the Policy BootCamp 2019. The module was formulated to critically engage and introduce the most pressing trends in international relations to sixty foreign policy enthusiasts. The delegates studied theoretical frameworks including that of Kautilya. Kamal Madishetty, VIF Alum spoke on India’s neighbour policy and Mr. Sanjay Pulika, Senior Fellow at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library addressed the class on India-China relations.

India and the World, June 2019
The CSFR team engaged in discussions with diplomats and strategic analysts on India’s various foreign policy initiatives. Amb. Preeti Saran, former Secretary (East) and H.E Sidharto Suryodipuro, Indonesia’s Ambassador to India addressed the audience on India’s strategic priorities in the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN centrality, while Amb. Asoke Mukerji, Former Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, spoke on the dynamics of the multilateral world order and the significant place held by India. Bridging the gap between domestic and strategic policy, Lt. General Syed Ata Hasnain spoke of the Kashmir Conundrum and the increasing prevalence of hybrid warfare in Jammu and Kashmir.

At VIF we continue to maintain our focus on preparing the next-generation leaders of our country. GYAN aims at connecting the future leaders across the world to India and build on a leadership committed to achieving the aspirations of a sustainable and prosperous humanity.

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