Find ways to counter China’s soft power push: Parliamentary panel to MEA

Source: The post is based on the article “Find ways to counter China’s soft power push: Parliamentary panel to MEA” published in Economic Times on 16th December 2022

What is the News?

A Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs has recommended that the ministry of external affairs(MEA) prepare a policy document on India’s soft power projections amid efforts by China to give a mega push to its soft power.

What is Soft Power?

Soft power is the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction and persuasion rather than coercion or payment. A country’s soft power rests on its resources of culture, values and policies. 

What are the problems in India’s Soft Power policy?

Firstly, there is a lack of soft power strategy. Ministry of External Affairs has studied international best practices of countries like the United States, the UK, China and Japan. But is yet to put together a comprehensive statement detailing India’s soft power strategy.

Secondly, securing adequate funding has been a key concern for government agencies. 

– China is estimated to spend about US$ 10 billion a year just on its Confucius Institutes and soft power promotion whereas Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and other agencies put together spend around 300-400 crores. Most of India’s expenditure goes into establishment and administration.

Thirdly, Government organizations face a serious shortage of talent. Bureaucrats were not always the right pick for cultural diplomacy. 

Fourthly, India’s efforts at building soft power have been bedevilled by coordination problems between government agencies. Bodies ranging from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport to the ICCR were conducting separate international outreach activities. 

What are the recommendations given by the Parliamentary Panel to improve India’s soft power?

-The external affairs ministry should prepare a policy document on India’s soft power projections delineating India’s soft power toolbox and the manner in which it is being projected abroad along with a vision statement for the future.

-The government should make concerted efforts to get recognition of Ayurveda as a system of medicine and adopt pharmacopeia of India so that the products can be exported as medicine.

Revamp the focus, structure and functioning of DD India for its global outreach.

-A system of common tourist passes for entry to multiple heritage sites, as is prevalent in most European countries to streamline the process and avoid long queues at sites.

Enhanced annual budgetary allocation of ₹500 crores for the ICCR for conducting India’s soft power and cultural diplomacy.

Creation of a coordination committee consisting of representatives from the ministries of external affairs, culture, youth and sports affairs, AYUSH and science and technology to overcome the lack of coordination among multiple institutions in projecting India’s soft power.

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