India aspires to become a Global Power in this Multipolar world order. To do so we need to have both Hard & Soft Power.

Need for power

Since ancient times, battles and wars have been fought in the quest for power. A powerful nation can impose its ideals and policies on other nations. Power helps the country advance.

The nature of power has changed over the years. From hard military power to soft power.

What is soft power:

Soft power refers to the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants without force or coercion.It helps in building favourable attitude and preferences over a period of time.

Examples of Soft Power:

1)China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is a soft power tool which aims to make smaller countries dependant on China in the name of development and hence support its policies and actions.

2)Non Resident Indians helped create a positive atmosphere which made USA sign the nuclear deal with India.

Hard power and its limitations:

Hard power refers to the use of military force to produce favourable results. With the spread of democracy, and growth of civil society, use of hard power has been frowned upon. The limitations of hard power have also been exposed to the world.

For example, US’s War on Terrorism:

1)No concrete outcome

2)Arab Spring and crisis in the middle east

3)Ongoing crisis in Syria

4)Rise of ISIS.

5)Refugee Crisis.

Moreover, the invention of nuclear weapons have imposed serious limitations on the use of hard power. The fear of Mutually Assured Destruction and spread of nuclear weapons to terrorists has further dettered the use of hard power.

Relevance of soft power:

1)More relevant in a globalised world.

2)Promotes world peace and progress

3)A more civilised approach

India and soft power:

1) Has been a major tool of diplomacy since ancient times. Trade flourished with foreign countries due to soft power. Universities like Nalanda and Vikramshila attracted students from abroad. Kings like Asoka sent ambassadors to foreign countries.

2) India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was convinced that India was bound to play an increasing and beneficent part in world affairs. He had developed a zeal for diplomacy that was not backed by the needed military and economic hard power. The nation were proud of the non-violent manner in which we had achieved our independence. It is this soft power which helped preserve the democracy in India while its neighbours fell prey to dictatorship.

3) Gujral doctrine emphasised on the use of soft power. It was used to establish democracy in the neighbourhood-Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal.

4) Soft power helped in furthering the agenda of Non Aligned Movement(NAM).

Tools to implement soft power:

1) A Public Diplomacy Division was created within the Ministry of External Affairs,

2) Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was expanded worldwide

3) The Ministry of Tourism’s ’Incredible India’ campaign

4) Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas.

5) Bollywood films and shows abroad.

6) Make in India campaign,

7) Intensive foreign visits by the Prime Minister

8) Inviting world leaders-Prince William,Justin Trudeau(Canadian PM),Ivanka Trump etc

9) NRIs as cultural ambassadors

Soft power in the neighbourhood:


1)Cricket matches

2)Wagah Border Ceremony

3)Medical Tourism


5)Daily buses for trade


1)Hydroelectric Projects


3)Student exchanges

4)BBIN(Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal) Motor Vehicle Agreement



2)Student Exchanges

3)Coordinating at global forum platforms on climate and trade issues.

Sri Lanka

1)Helped in ending the civil war.

2)Establishing democracy

3)Framing constitution


1)Open border

2)Employment opportunities

3)Framing Constitution

Limitations of soft power:

1) Soft power can create a favourable attitude but it is not always guaranteed that the other nation would act favourably.

2) It takes more time than hard power.

Way Forward:

In the rising multipolar world order India needs to establish itself. Since hard power cannot be used beyond a limit, it is soft power which will help india carve a niche for itself in the new world order.

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