Yoga is the journey of the self through the self to the self. As the world celebrated 8th edition of International Yoga day we will analyse how Yoga is exemplifying India’s soft power. Soft power is the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants without resorting to force or coercion. Soft power lies in a country’s attractiveness and comes from three resources: its culture, its political values, and its foreign policies.
Yoga has gained admiration and captured peoples’ imagination across the world, and has become a source of India’s soft power. The overwhelming number of yoga schools in America and Europe and many parts of Asia are a testimony to the popularity of India’s rich cultural traditions.
India’s Soft Power:
In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 21st of June to be observed as ‘International Yoga Day’. This was initiated by India and is seen as the projection of India’s soft power. India’s spiritualism, yoga, movies and television, classical and popular dance and music, its principles of non-violence, democratic institutions, plural society, and cuisine have all attracted people across the world.
As far as its outer expression goes, the 8th International Yoga Day is a consolidation of one aspect, arguably the greatest, of India’s soft power.
If democracy is the US’s greatest soft power export that organizes nations through the currency of vote into a cohesive collective powered by individuals, Yoga does the same for India, initially at an individual level and invisibly at the national.
India is a civilisation which has offered refuge to cultural and religious freedoms to Jews, Parses, Christens and Muslims. The imprint of Indian civilization is the strongest throughout the world. India is a country in which all major religions like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism – coexists which has been the strength of India’s soft power. India is dipping into its soft power resources in its diplomatic engagements abroad.
International Day of Yoga reflects yoga’s immense popularity worldwide, underscoring its richness as a soft power resource Indian Diaspora is seen as ambassadors of carriers of our soft power. The government is trying to harness the popularity of Yoga and its benefits to project India’s contributions to the world in the field of health and well-being and also spirituality. To project New Delhi’s soft power across world capitals, the MEA has embarked on a program to build diplomatic missions and cultural centers using the country’s diverse styles of architecture.
Buddhism is an important bridge between not just India and South East Asia and East Asia, but also with South Asia. It can also be a big tourist boost for the country with many people visiting the country especially with a focus on learning and practicing yoga in its birthplace.
Rely totally on soft power:
The idea behind the Yoga day celebrations and the government’s efforts in this direction is that humanity should acknowledge and celebrate Yoga – India’s gift to the world. India is still having difficulties in changing its neighbours’ behaviours by using soft power. The soft power has not helped India deal with terrorism and radicalism. Despite India’s growing soft power many countries are not supporting India’s permanent membership in UNSC. It has not helped India in WTO negotiations. It has not stopped China opposing India’s membership to NSG.
Yoga could be a big attraction for tourists coming to India. The ‘tourist circuits’ of India should add a ‘yoga/spiritual circuit’ to their list.
This would further enhance India’s image as a peace-loving country, apart from generating revenue, increasing foreign exchange, and providing employment to local people.
Utilize the strong cultural and civilizational potential of the Indian diaspora. Innovation and entrepreneurship should be the soft power of choice both within the country and India must have well organised higher education system like US in the field of yoga which attracts lot of students into India Develop Indian tourism sector to a great extent which will also have economic gains.
India should build on its strength through good governance, work towards achieving good economic growth and raise the standard of living of the common man. India must capitalise on the goodwill and the potential soft power it has created. These will help in achieving greater heights in India’s soft power.
Yoga has gained admiration and captured peoples’ imagination across the world, and thus has become a source of India’s soft power. Indian public diplomacy has already been making efforts to showcase yoga. It should disseminate more literature and stories about yoga.
Yoga is an Indian gift to the world–a key to living longer, better, and happier. Let humanity celebrate this. India’s culture, heritage and its pluralism are its strengths. We have the potential to be world leaders in not only economic terms but as a free, vibrant and dynamic nation. India must use its soft power to leverage and accelerate its growth. If the past eight years laid out the alphabet of Yoga for India’s soft power kindergarten classes, the next coming years should see conversations around individuals being able to use the inner grammar of Yoga. This will complete this cycle of India’s soft power, a power deep, a power vast and a power unique.