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India's "Soft power" diplomacy | Indian Polity | General Studies II

 Table of Contents:

  • About India's "Soft power" diplomacy
  • Evaluate the reasons for India's "Soft power" diplomacy in Afghanistan. ( UPPSC 2021)

About India's "Soft power" diplomacy:

India's soft power diplomacy refers to the use of non-monetary, non-military force, and cultural means to influence other countries and advance its global interests. 

The following are some key aspects of India's soft power diplomacy:

Cultural Influence: 

India's rich cultural heritage, including yoga, classical music, dance, and cuisine, has gained global popularity. The promotion of these cultural elements through events, festivals, and institutions like the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) enhances India's soft power.


Indian cinema, particularly Bollywood, has a global following. Bollywood movies and stars have contributed significantly to India's soft power by fostering a sense of familiarity and admiration for Indian culture.

Yoga and Ayurveda: 

India has played a pivotal role in promoting yoga and Ayurveda worldwide. International Yoga Day, initiated by India and celebrated on June 21st, has gained immense popularity and participation globally.


India's large and influential diaspora community is a valuable asset for soft power diplomacy. The Indian diaspora contributes positively to the image of India in their host countries and often plays a role in strengthening diplomatic ties.

Economic growth: 

India's economic growth and emerging market status contribute to its soft power. Economic cooperation, trade, and investment partnerships with various nations can enhance India's global influence.

Diplomacy Through Education: 

India has attracted students from around the world to its educational institutions. The presence of international students helps foster people-to-people connections and promote Indian values and culture.

Foreign Aid and Disaster Relief: 

India's humanitarian efforts, including disaster relief missions and development assistance in various countries, enhance its reputation as a responsible and benevolent global player.

Cultural Diplomacy: 

India actively participates in cultural exchanges, art exhibitions, and festivals worldwide to showcase its culture and heritage. These events build bridges and create positive perceptions of India.

Digital Diplomacy: 

India's information technology sector and the use of digital platforms for diplomacy and outreach contribute to its soft power, as it enables easy access to Indian content and ideas.


Evaluate the reasons for India's "Soft power" diplomacy in Afghanistan.

 (UPPSC Mains General Studies-II/GS-2 2021)


India's "soft power" diplomacy in Afghanistan is driven by several strategic, political, and humanitarian reasons. Soft power refers to a nation's ability to influence others through non-coercive means, such as cultural appeal, diplomatic engagement, humanitarian aid, and development assistance.

In the context of Afghanistan, India's soft power diplomacy can be evaluated based on the following reasons:

Historical and Cultural Ties: 

India and Afghanistan share deep historical and cultural ties that date back centuries. This shared heritage fosters a sense of cultural affinity and goodwill between the two nations, enabling India to leverage its cultural influence and build people-to-people connections.

Development Assistance: 

India has been one of the major contributors to Afghanistan's reconstruction and development efforts. India has invested more than 3 billion dollars in Afghanistan through various development projects like infrastructure, education, healthcare, and capacity-building programs, which have helped improve the lives of Afghan people and contributed to the country's stability and progress.

Humanitarian Support: 

India has provided humanitarian aid to Afghanistan during times of crisis, such as natural disasters or refugee influxes. This assistance has helped alleviate suffering and demonstrated India's commitment to Afghan welfare.

Economic Interests: 

Afghanistan's strategic location and potential as a gateway to Central Asia have economic significance for India. Engaging in development projects and trade initiatives in Afghanistan can open up economic opportunities and strengthen regional connectivity.

Countering Terrorism: 

India has been affected by cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, and Afghanistan shares a border with Pakistan. By engaging in soft power diplomacy, India aims to build goodwill with the Afghan people and create an environment less conducive to terrorism, which can impact India's security.

Regional Stability: 

India sees Afghanistan's stability as essential for regional peace and security. By supporting Afghanistan's development and democratic process, India contributes to the country's stability and the overall security environment in the region.

International Standing: 

Engaging in soft power diplomacy in Afghanistan allows India to showcase its constructive role as a responsible global actor, committed to peace, development, and human rights. This enhances India's international standing and reputation as a reliable partner in regional and global affairs.

Non-interference Policy: 

India's soft power approach in Afghanistan is rooted in its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations. By focusing on development assistance and capacity-building, India seeks to complement the efforts of the Afghan government rather than imposing its will on Afghanistan.

Counterbalancing Regional Rivals: 

India's soft power diplomacy in Afghanistan is also aimed at counterbalancing the influence of regional rivals, particularly Pakistan and China, who also seek to exert their influence in Afghanistan.

Overall, India's "soft power" diplomacy in Afghanistan reflects a comprehensive approach aimed at fostering friendship, promoting stability, and contributing to the country's sustainable development.

By engaging in various areas of assistance and cooperation, India seeks to strengthen its ties with Afghanistan, enhance regional stability, and bolster its standing in the international community.

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