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A sense of India through soft power

A sense of India through soft power
A sense of India through soft power
India is a cultural melting pot. It has a rich and illustrious history with many different people from the Greeks to the Moghuls and latterly the English, Portuguese and French influencing its traditions that were initially set by the Indo Aryans. India’s classical dances and songs have a strong presence on the world stage. India’s cuisine can be found in all major cities of the world. Yoga has become the new-age mantra for healthy living with millions of people practicing it every day. Bollywood’s reach and effect on the pop culture is becoming more prominent, and some of the Indian film stars are even more popular than Hollywood stars. The country has various other soft attributes that it has contributed to the world, such as dance, music, and food. This work will explore the various soft attributes that contribute to communicating India as a soft power. A communication model is proposed that develops the idea of understanding how various people perceive India as a soft power and to overlay this with how these attributes are communicated to individuals.
While there are many positive soft power attributes of India as seen above, the vicarious attributes of India outshine its positive counterpart; at least in the CBI Rankings (Futurebrand.com, 2014) and Monocle soft power rankings, (Monocle, 2012) where India has been constantly dropping in the ratings.
While studying the soft power attributes it was found that there is little significant research undertaken to understand international perception about India as a soft power. This piece of work will attempt to find the missing piece of the jigsaw.
India is a complex set of nation states unified by Bollywood, deep spirituality, food and dance culture, so a study in these areas would help to understand the impact that they have outside India’s borders. One could argue that none of the attributes discussed is mutually exclusive as Bollywood for instance can portray dance, food and spirituality in one go. At the same time yoga philosophy and practice also incorporates food principles via Ayurveda. Dance looks at spiritual aspects and history together with music that is often incorporated in Bollywood. The soft issues pervade Indian culture together with a passive acceptance of an oftenrigid caste system that rarely flares into riots such as those witnessed recently in Egypt. The study therefore needed to reconcile these opposites and the fluid interweaving of softness that comes across internationally and appears to exert such an influence on so many nations. Why does softness create such a popular nation and how does the hardness or vicariousness of the way people and women are treated create imbalances? The research throws light on how a nation can use its soft power attributes to define its status and to move forward in the world. The study looks at soft power from a new perspective. First of all, a qualitative approach was undertaken where a country’s influence on media (content analysis of newspaper articles), influence on a group (focus group on four different cultural groups) and influence on an individual (visual case study of 22 individuals belonging to four different cultural groups) was studied through triangulation method. This was done to understand how people from different parts of the world perceived India and to what extent Indian culture influenced them.
Secondly, it was proved that the influence of soft power varies from one country to another. Some countries may like a certain cultural aspect while another country may not find that aspect interesting and influential. In this way new ideas about understanding soft power have been developed. The research indicated that people’s perception of India as a soft power varies depending on which country they originate from and at the same time media (newspapers) can influence people’s perceptions of a country as well. It is also interesting that the main finding indicates that a country like India needs to be country specific in terms of the key cultural attributes that it wishes to broadcast.
Parida, Soumik
2d5fddf4-6b7f-446f-884e-cc77d784a195
Parida, Soumik
2d5fddf4-6b7f-446f-884e-cc77d784a195
Ranchhod, Ashok
4502275c-3dca-4c29-a2cb-3a0356e4de0e

Parida, Soumik (2015) A sense of India through soft power. University of Southampton, Winchester School of Art, Doctoral Thesis, 330pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

India is a cultural melting pot. It has a rich and illustrious history with many different people from the Greeks to the Moghuls and latterly the English, Portuguese and French influencing its traditions that were initially set by the Indo Aryans. India’s classical dances and songs have a strong presence on the world stage. India’s cuisine can be found in all major cities of the world. Yoga has become the new-age mantra for healthy living with millions of people practicing it every day. Bollywood’s reach and effect on the pop culture is becoming more prominent, and some of the Indian film stars are even more popular than Hollywood stars. The country has various other soft attributes that it has contributed to the world, such as dance, music, and food. This work will explore the various soft attributes that contribute to communicating India as a soft power. A communication model is proposed that develops the idea of understanding how various people perceive India as a soft power and to overlay this with how these attributes are communicated to individuals.
While there are many positive soft power attributes of India as seen above, the vicarious attributes of India outshine its positive counterpart; at least in the CBI Rankings (Futurebrand.com, 2014) and Monocle soft power rankings, (Monocle, 2012) where India has been constantly dropping in the ratings.
While studying the soft power attributes it was found that there is little significant research undertaken to understand international perception about India as a soft power. This piece of work will attempt to find the missing piece of the jigsaw.
India is a complex set of nation states unified by Bollywood, deep spirituality, food and dance culture, so a study in these areas would help to understand the impact that they have outside India’s borders. One could argue that none of the attributes discussed is mutually exclusive as Bollywood for instance can portray dance, food and spirituality in one go. At the same time yoga philosophy and practice also incorporates food principles via Ayurveda. Dance looks at spiritual aspects and history together with music that is often incorporated in Bollywood. The soft issues pervade Indian culture together with a passive acceptance of an oftenrigid caste system that rarely flares into riots such as those witnessed recently in Egypt. The study therefore needed to reconcile these opposites and the fluid interweaving of softness that comes across internationally and appears to exert such an influence on so many nations. Why does softness create such a popular nation and how does the hardness or vicariousness of the way people and women are treated create imbalances? The research throws light on how a nation can use its soft power attributes to define its status and to move forward in the world. The study looks at soft power from a new perspective. First of all, a qualitative approach was undertaken where a country’s influence on media (content analysis of newspaper articles), influence on a group (focus group on four different cultural groups) and influence on an individual (visual case study of 22 individuals belonging to four different cultural groups) was studied through triangulation method. This was done to understand how people from different parts of the world perceived India and to what extent Indian culture influenced them.
Secondly, it was proved that the influence of soft power varies from one country to another. Some countries may like a certain cultural aspect while another country may not find that aspect interesting and influential. In this way new ideas about understanding soft power have been developed. The research indicated that people’s perception of India as a soft power varies depending on which country they originate from and at the same time media (newspapers) can influence people’s perceptions of a country as well. It is also interesting that the main finding indicates that a country like India needs to be country specific in terms of the key cultural attributes that it wishes to broadcast.

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More information

Published date: November 2015
Organisations: University of Southampton, Winchester School of Art

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 383486
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/383486
PURE UUID: 95d7a7b8-c1f3-4f5c-98b7-69bc3f5314f6
ORCID for Ashok Ranchhod: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4269-8825

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 17 Nov 2015 13:36
Last modified: 16 Mar 2021 17:33

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Contributors

Author: Soumik Parida
Thesis advisor: Ashok Ranchhod ORCID iD

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