The Modi government is working on developing a “soft power matrix”, a tool aimed at calibrating the effectiveness of India’s soft power outreach in dealings with neighbouring countries and leveraging it better as an operational instrument in India’s broader diplomatic doctrine. “The process of putting in place a soft power matrix is currently at a research stage and the government expects that this, when ready, would help foster better diplomatic traction in India’s immediate neighbourhood and beyond,” a government official said. The articulation of India’s soft power abroad is currently being done through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), with some 36 foreign cultural centres working to promote artistic and cultural traditions through a range of activities such as Festivals of India abroad.
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The proposed matrix is being developed to calibrate outreach efforts such as the propagation of Gandhian values and philosophy, the strength of the Mumbai film industry, educational scholarships extended by the Ministry of External Affairs, extending humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to help mitigate the adverse impact of natural disasters.
Alongside, mementos offered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his engagements with world leaders over the last three years, including the gold-plated replica of Kerala’s Cheraman Juma Masjid, the replica of Khamsa-i Khusrau by the 13th century Sufi poet Amir Khusrau, and bookends with inscriptions from the Bhagavad Gita are also being seen as efforts to buttress the strength of Indian cultural heritage. In the wake of the Prime Minister’s just concluded visit to West Asia, a proposal being considered involves that of opening a cultural centre for the entire Gulf region.