Modi showcases India’s soft power in Paris

India’s soft power glowed on a radiant spring morning in Paris. Yoga, sustainable development, cultural connections, the transformative power of education and the spirituality of Sri Aurobindo vied for the attention of a mixed audience of the French and the Indian community as Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at the UNESCO headquarters.

Amid chants of Modi, Har Har Mahadev and Vande Matram, the Indian leader, dressed nattily in bandgala suit, walked inside the UNESCO headquarters and unveiled his vision of an empowered India animated by universal education, religious pluralism, modern technology and harmony of man with nature.

He began his visit April 10 to the UNESCO headquarters by paying homage to the statue of Shri Aurobindo, India’s sage-philosopher-poet, and lauded his “belief in the unity of individual consciousness with the world outside.”

“There is much that we can learn from his humanism and spiritualism, from his belief in the unity of individual consciousness with the world outside; the enlightened purpose of education; the service of science; and, the unity of world, founded on national freedom, diversity of civilizations and autonomy of culture,” Mr Modi said.

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Breakthrough Diplomacy@India: What to expect in 2015

Diplomacy is the art of the possible. If successful and effective diplomacy is about reigniting the spark in old relationships, winning new friends, breaking new grounds, and shaping the outcomes in the international arena to promote the country’s enlightened national interests and development, then the seven-month old Narendra Modi government scores high as it builds on the successes of 2014 and looks ahead to 2015 with “new vision and new vigour.” Breakthrough Diplomacy, as India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj writes in a prologue to the eponymous e-book published by India’s Ministry of External Affairs, is about melding ‘Diplomacy for Development’ as the overarching themes in India’s global engagements.
“2014 has truly been a Year of Breakthrough Diplomacy. India’s star is today shining ever brighter on the global firmament,” writes Swaraj.
Talking of breakthrough diplomacy, it’s time to unscramble the jargon and introduce some balance in diplomatic discourse and the unfolding possibilities in the coming months. For one thing, breakthroughs don’t happen every day or every year in diplomacy; the India-US nuclear deal was a breakthrough, but getting Obama to be the chief guest at the 2015 Republic Day celebrations is a diplomatic triumph, but not a breakthrough. To claim routine diplomatic successes as breakthroughs, therefore, would be misleading, and lowering the bar. For another thing, diplomatic breakthroughs presuppose a perceptible and substantive rise in a country’s comprehensive national power, economic and military strength as well as soft power.

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