‘Importance of soft power is increasing globally’-THE HINDU-09-04-2020

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April 9 will mark the 70th anniversary of the ICCR’s foundation. ICCR has a great history and many stalwarts had shouldered this responsibility. ICCR was established when there was neither the concept of soft power nor was the term in use. In a way the limitations of military might are now more obvious and hence the importance of soft power is increasing.

India enjoys a groundswell of goodwill, but the challenge is to translate this goodwill into understanding of India. To that end we plan to start academic programmes like an Understanding India course, cultural exchange between future leaders, mainstreaming of our traditional artisans through exchange with similar artisans abroad and converting Chairs into full-fledged India Study Centres abroad. Secondly, with the ‘Show Must Go On’ spirit, we have successfully started conducting e-tutorials and classes on a wide range of subjects including classical dances, Hindi, Sanskrit and even Yoga. Thirdly, in the wake of all pervading gloom and tensions as a result of pandemic, we have announced a global painting competition and also an essay competition for NRIs and alumni of Indian institutions.

We always believe that centrality of cultural relations will eventually promote our diplomatic, strategic as well as economic relationships. Among the activities of the ICCR is promotion of Hindi. Well, not just Hindi, but promotion of all languages from India is something we want to work for. has started Hindi classes.

About scholarships, we desire to increase them but getting good and eligible students also becomes an issue. And about Chairs, as I said we are reviewing their performance and exploring the idea of converting them into full-fledged India Study Centres. You’ve spoken about the need for India to become an education hub for foreign students. Well, the role of ICCR is limited considering the fact that this is a humongous task and multiple agencies are involved in this.

However, since this is a knowledge era and since alumni of Indian institutions form an important segment of India’s soft power, we decided to take initiative and organised the first of its kind national convention on ‘Destination India’ last January in Pune. Today, India ranks 26th as a destination country whereas we are third as a source country.

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