‘Satyagraha’ Timely Wakeup Call for a Wounded Nation


Film: “Satyagraha”
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Manoj Bajpayee, Amrita Rao
Director: Prakash Jha
Rating: ****

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Prakash Jha’s “Satyagraha” bears no thematic relation to any of his earlier political dramas. It is certainly not a sequel to his “Raajneeti”, as has been reported in some sections of the media. And yes, it is most certainly based on the movement that Anna Hazare started against corruption. To say that Mr. Bachchan’s character Dwarka Anand in “Satyagraha”, lovingly called Dadujee by one and all, and Dadujee’s turbulent relationship with the go-getting NRI-turned-Gandhian-nationalist Maanav Raghvendra(Devgn) does not bear a resemblance to the Anna Hazare-Arvind Kejriwal equation, would be plain blindness.

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What Jha and his very able astute and politically informed co-writer and long-time collaborator Anjum Rajabali have done, is to collect together the thematic threads of Anna Hazare’s mass anti-corruption movement and weave it into a gripping, thoughtful, hard-hitting and inspirational drama which contains all the resonances of a newspaper headline, and wrap it up in the semantics of cinema with as little creative violence as possible even while addressing an inherently violent issue.

From the time Jha made his intensely political drama “Damul”, there has been a constant strife between the director’s personal political ideology and its rendition into cinematically interpreted language. Drama and emotions have always been Jha’s bete noire. In his predominantly brutal domain of interpersonal politics, the human drama is played out austerely, often at the cost of squandering away the chance to draw the characters’ innerscape in an elaborately-charted scheme .

In Jha’s “Aarakshan”, we had seen that trademark emotional austerity in the way he portrayed Mr. Bachchan’s relationship with his screen-daughter Deepika Padukone. In “Satyagraha”, one feels the relationship between Mr. Bachchan’s character and his widowed daughter-in-law (Amrita Rao) could have gone a little further. But then Mr. Bachchan is the kind of extraordinary actor who can say so much about his character’s emotional environment in the most meagre playing-time. Here, he has that one moment with Amrita Rao when hearing her sob in the dead of the night, he goes into her room to console her… And we know the kind of deep bonding this powerful patriarch shares with his cruelly widowed Bahu.

Shri Krishna Janmashtami / Krishna Jayanthi – 28/08/2013


KRISHNAYA VASUDEVAYA
DEVAKI NANDA NAYACHA
NANDAGOPA KUMARAYA
SRI GOVINDAYA NAMO NAMAHA

KRISHNAYA VASUDEVAYA HARAYE PARAMAATMANE
PRANATHAH KLESHA NAASHAAYA GOVINDAAYA NAMONAMAHA

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Shri Krishnastami is celebrated on Wednesday August 28th 2013. Sri Krishnastami or Krishna Jayanthi marks the celebration of the birth of Lord Sri Krishna;the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Lord Sri Krishna was born on the ‘Rohini’ nakshatra on Ashtami; that’s why it is called Krishnastami. In karnataka it is also known as Gokulashtami and Janmashtami. The festival occurs between August and September in our English calendar.

According to our Hindu mythology, Krishna was born to destroy Mathura’s demon King Kamsa, brother of his virtuous mother, Devaki. A celestial voice told Kamsa that he would be killed by the eighth child of Devaki. Alarmed by the message, Kamsa imprisoned Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. Taking no chances, Kamsa went on killing Devaki’s children soon after birth. Lord Krishna was born as the eighth child of Vasudeva at midnight. But at Krishna’s birth, under divine instructions, Vasudeva left the prison unnoticed with the baby. He crossed the mighty river Yamuna which was in spate due to heavy rains. Without any difficulty, he walked across the river protected from rain by the mighty serpent Shesha, and reached Gokul. In Gokul, on the same midnight, a girl named Yogamaya had been born to Yasoda, wife of Nanda a herdsman. The babies were exchanged, and Vasudeva came back to prison with the girl. When Kamsa was told that his sister had given birth to a child, Kamsa attempted kill the child. But the baby who was Goddess Maya, flew off to the heaven, warning Kamsa that Krishna, who would kill him, had already been born and was alive. Eventually, Krishna killed Kamsa, and released his parents from the prison, and brought peace and happiness to the common people.

In our Madhwa tradition, we are supposed to fast on this day, and late during the night; usually midnight we are supposed to give Arghya to Lord krishna. Here is the stotra to be said while giving Arghya to Lord Krishna. While giving the Arghya, hold a coin, a lemon and dried date in your right hand, and using a silver spoon offer 3 times milk and 3 times water to Lord krishna in a silver bowl, and keep repeating the below Stotra as well. Everyone in the household has to give Arghya to the Lord.

 

Krishna Arghya

Jathaha Kamsavadarthaya Bhoobharotharanayacha|
Kouravanam Vinashaya Dhaityanam Nidhanaya Cha ||
Pandavanam Hitharthaya Dharamasamsthapanaya Cha|
GruhanaArghyam Maya Dhatham Devakya Sahitho Hare ||

 

Chandra Arghya

Kshirodharnava Sambhootha AthiGotraSamudhbhava |
GruhanaArghyam Maya Dhatham Rhohinya Sahitho Shashin ||

 

The food items performed are mostly sweet dishes, fried items and items with Avalakki. All these dishes are performed with extreme madi. If you are not able to do so, here are some useful tips:

1. The most important thing in any festival is the breaking of the coconut and offering it to god, so bring a coconut.

2. Keep also 5 fruits for offering to god, like Banana, Mango, Apple, Orange, Grapes, Plum, Pear and so on..

3. You can make the following dishes which have been mentioned here in the blog which need no cooking at all, add the seasonings after you do the Naivedaya to god.

4. If you don’t mind cooking on the gas stove, here are other recipes you can make as well

5. Bring lots of flowers which are again easily available; roses

6. Offer butter also to the Lord which again is available in all grocery stores.

7. Below are several links which has all the songs in praise of Lord Krishna posted in this blog.

8. Here are some links from dvaita.org as pdf files

9. We also place a silver cradle and keep the Ambegalu Krishna idol in the cradle and rock the cradle while singing the following song:

10. Recite Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya as many times as possible.

11. Little feet of Lord Krishna are drawn as well along with other rangolis.

11. Last but not the least, do as many namaskaras as you can and break the fast.

Once you finish the pooja, surrender yourself to the Almighty Lord by saying the following Stotra.

KAYENA VACHA MANASENDRIYAIRVA
BUDDHYATMANA VA PRAKRITE SWABHAVATH
KAROMI YADYAD SAKALAM PARASMAI
SRIMAN NARAYANAYETI SAMARPAYAMI

May Lord Krishna Bless ALL

Can Falling Rupee be Rescued by Gold in Indian Temples?


The Prime Minister, The Finance Minister, The Finance Ministry of India as well as the RBI are trying to come up with dynamic measures to solve the current problem of falling rupee and improving the Indian economy as a whole. Most of the initiatives taken by RBI met with criticism, and the need of the hour is to come up with some novel idea to curb the current crisis, reports Debiprasad Nayak of The Wall Street Journal.

One of the control measures announced by Government is to increase the import duties on gold. But experts believe that the gold loving Indians will not be affected by the price rise. According to World Gold Council, India currently has around 20,000 tons of gold worth $950 billion. About 2.79 percent of this gold is held by Reserve Bank of India and the rest is under individual possession. Few experts suggest that Government should try to make use of some of this gold. “If we will be able to bring out only 10% of the gold holdings, we don’t need to import any gold for the next two years,” said Haresh Soni, chairman of the Mumbai-based All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation.

The gold loan scheme is already practiced in India in which banks accept gold jewelry and bars from individuals and provide loan based on the quantity and current price of gold. The minimum deposit should be of 500 gm of gold. If the amount of deposit is reduced to 100 or 200 grams, it would be feasible for many Indians to use this scheme.  Hence, Government should try and make use of this unproductive asset to increase dollar inflow and reduce gold import.

Facebook, Google Cannot Flout Indian Law, Says Court


The Delhi High Court Friday said that social networking site Facebook Inc and search engine Google Inc are bound by the rules of this country and cannot flout the law just because they are foreign companies.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru also directed the two companies to display on their websites the name and contact details of their grievance officers.

“We direct Google Inc and Facebook Inc to display the name of grievance officer on their respective sites. We also direct other intermediaries that the compliance (of the rules) be done in two weeks,” the court said.

It said the Information Technology (Intermediaries) Rules mandate that all social networking sites have to publish the name of grievance officer and their contact details.

“Just because you are a foreign company, you cannot flout the law. Like us, you are bound by the rule of law of this country,” said the court, also asking the central government to take steps to ensure that the social networking sites comply with the rules.

The bench also asked the central government to file its response on the allegations of petitioner that Delhi Police, Indian Railways and others have created accounts on social networking sites despite government departments being barred from doing so under the law.

The petitioner submitted that government departments like Delhi Police and the Indian Railways are not entitled to create accounts on social networking sites.

The court was hearing the PIL filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader K.N. Govindacharya through his advocate Virag Gupta alleging that the websites have no mechanism for protection of children from online abuse.

The PIL has said that children below 18 years are entering an agreement with the social networking sites to open accounts which is against the Indian Majority Act, the Indian Contract Act and also the Information and Technology Act.

The plea has also sought recovery of taxes from the websites on their income from operations in India.

Source: IANS

Top 10 Biggest Football Stadiums #EPL #CFC #INDIA #FIFA #BPL #MUFC


10. Borg El Arab Stadium

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Capacity: 86,000 Location: Alexandria (Near Cairo), Egypt This stadium set in the heart of Cairo hosts all the big Egyptian games. Beautiful.

9. Bukit Jalil National Stadium

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Capacity: 87,411 Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Not renowned for its football, Malaysia is a country that lives and breathes the beautiful game and therefore has a massive stadium to go with,

8. Gelora Bung Karno Stadium

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Capacity: 88,306 Location: Jakarta, Indonesia Another Asian stadium, this time in Indonesia. The stadium is a regular sell out for WCQ matches.

7. Wembley Stadium

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Capacity: 90,000 Location: London, England The home of football- Wembley. Hosts major finals and the national team.

6. Rose Bowl

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Capacity: 93,420 Location: Pasadena, California, United States This soccer stadium is a multi purpose stadium in greater California.

5. Soccer City

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Capacity: 94,700 Location: Johannesburg, South Africa World Cup final stadium in South Africa this was specially built for the competition.

 4. Azadi Stadium

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Capacity: 95,225 Location: Tehran, Iran

3. Camp Nou

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Capacity: 99,354 Location: Barcelona, Spain Lionel Messi and friends put on a show here everytime they play. Amazing!

2. Estadio Azteca

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Capacity: 105,064 Location: Mexico City, Mexico Amazing stadium, amazing atmosphere. This place gets your spine tingling in the heart of Mexico.

1. Salt Lake Stadium

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Capacity: 120,000 Location: Kolkata, IndiaThe biggest stadium in the World is based in India! Stunning.

US readies possible missile strike against Syria


Despite President Obama cautioning against intervention in Syria, the Pentagon is making “initial preparations” for a cruise missile attack on Syrian government forces, according to a new report.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey is expected to present options for such a strike at a White House meeting on Saturday, CBS News reported on Friday. 

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel suggested Friday naval forces are moving in position closer to Syria in case Obama chooses action.

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The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for contingencies, and that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options — whatever options the president might choose,” Hagel said, adding a decision must be made quickly given “there may be another (chemical) attack.

Meanwhile, a defense official, cited by Reuters, said on Friday the US Navy was expanding its Mediterranean presence with a fourth cruise-missile ship, the USS Mahan. Though the source stressed to Reuters the Navy did not have orders to prepare for military operations against Syria.

The ship was due to head back to the United States, but the commander of the US Sixth Fleet decided to maintain the ship in the region. 

All four ships are capable of launching long-range, subsonic cruise missiles to reach land targets.

President Barack Obama is under renewed pressure to take action following the emergence of footage of what appears to be the aftermath of a toxic agent attack in a Damascus suburb on Wednesday. The forces of President Bashar Assad were assaulting a rebel stronghold in the district at the time, but deny responsibility. Moscow, which has maintained close ties with the regime, called the incident a rebel “provocation” possibly designed to derail upcoming Geneva peace talks.  

Though the Pentagon will present plans for potential action on Saturday, as CBS reported, President Obama has final say on any further developments.

Questioned on the continuing upheaval in Syria and Egypt during a CNN interview Friday, Obama said the United States should be wary of “being drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region.”

Obama went on to express reservations for becoming involved in the 30-month Syrian conflict due to a lack of international consensus. 

If the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, [and] do we have the coalition to make it work?” said Obama

Despite his cautious tone, Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice said via Twitter, “What is Bashar al Assad hiding? The world is demanding an independent investigation of Wednesday’s apparent CW attack. Immediately.

Adding to the rhetoric in Washington, Sen. John McCain said that if the administration was to “let this go on,” it was “writing a blank check to other brutal dictators around the world if they want to use chemical weapons.” 

The top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee also spoke out in support of a strike in Syria, writing to Obama of the need to respond to the latest alleged outrage.

If we, in concert with our allies, do not respond to Assad’s murderous uses of weapons of mass destruction, malevolent countries and bad actors around the world will see a green light where one was never intended,” Rep. Eliot Engel wrote on Friday.

Engel has been a proponent of a more aggressive approach to Assad’s government.

And, we can do this with no boots on the ground, from stand-off distances,” he added in the letter. “I know that your Administration is wrestling with these very complex issues, but I believe that we, as Americans, have a moral obligation to step in without delay and stop the slaughter.”

Obama insisted to CNN that while the United States remains “the one indispensable nation” in international diplomacy, he suggested that perhaps this was one conflict where the world should not look to Washington for a definitive answer.

The notion that the US can somehow solve what is a sectarian complex problem inside of Syria sometimes is overstated,” said the president.

The White House later released a statement confirming Obama’s words, and emphasizing that the US has no plans to put “boots on the ground.”

RBI rule curbs Indian M&A


The Reserve Bank of India’s efforts to stem the rupee’s freefall are threatening the flow of outbound M&A from the country and related loans.RTX124GX_we_220Source: Reuters/Vivek Prakash

A man speaks on his mobile phone in front of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) seal at the RBI headquarters in Mumbai.

Already reeling from RBI’s move to increase interest rates in recent weeks, Indian corporate borrowers were dealt a further blow on August 14. A change in rules relating to overseas direct investments jeopardises outbound M&A and the refinancing of loans that supported India Inc’s overseas acquisition binge in the past five years.

Earlier ODI rules, put in place in September 2007, permitted an Indian firm to invest directly in, extend loans or provide guarantees to, offshore joint ventures or subsidiaries for up to 400% of its net worth without requiring prior approval from RBI.

Then, on August 14, RBI reduced that limit to 100%, with immediate effect.

“The reduction in the net-worth limit is expected to significantly affect the ability of Indian corporates to make future outbound investments or support existing offshore investments,” said Philip Badge, partner at law firm Linklaters.

The change applies to all new ODI after August 14.

Apollo Tyres’ US$2.5bn acquisition of US-based Cooper Tire & Rubber would not be impacted by the rule change. Although the deal was awaiting regulatory approval in the US, it was unveiled in mid-June. Others such as ONGC Videsh, Oil India and other public sector units investing in offshore entities in the oil sector can continue to do so under the automatic route as per existing rules.

So far, however, all the details of the new rules have not been revealed. As such, market participants are still unsure how much impact it will have on the way they do business.

What is almost certain, though, is that new rules put Indian companies at a disadvantage when they bid for assets against acquirers from other countries.

Refinancing questions

Obtaining RBI approval on the net-worth limit adds another step to the M&A process, where speed of execution is often paramount. In the past, the 400% net-worth limit was enough for Indian companies to be able to acquire overseas assets successfully.

It fuelled an M&A boom that also led to a significant increase in Indian loans. To pay for purchases, Indian acquirers used debt that offshore acquisition vehicles raised with guarantees from the onshore parent.

“Most of the top-tier Indian conglomerates are way above the 100% limit, with some very close to the 400% mark,” said one loans banker in Mumbai, alluding to recent debt-funded offshore acquisitions.

“These loans pose a conundrum for the borrowers. How will they get refinanced? Will the RBI allow for exemptions to the net-worth rule for ODIs?”

Loan guarantees are also under pressure, as a result.

“There is a concern on refinancings of offshore acquisition loans and on the continuing ability of Indian companies to support existing guaranteed loans by funding their debt service through debt or equity injections,” said Linklaters’ Badge.

“The ability of the offshore entity, as well as the parent, to service the debt the former has raised will be constrained because of the RBI rule change and it raises the risk of a default.”

India’s biggest M&A loan is a US$6.6bn multi-tranche deal for Bharti Airtel in June 2010 that backed its acquisition of Zain Africa. While some of the tranches have already matured, others come due every June in the next three years.

“I will be really surprised if RBI refuses any Indian issuer’s request to refinance their acquisitions financings under previous ODI limits,” said Vivek Kathpalia, senior partner at Nishith Desai Associates.

Meanwhile, M&A financings will not be the only thing the new rule affects. According to a Linklaters note, standby letters of credit that Indian banks issue also count towards the net-worth limits for companies in the country. That means SBLC-backed loans will also face restrictions.

A slew of SBLC-backed loans have been completed for Indian companies in the past year, including second-tier and distressed credits, such as Suzlon Energy and Videocon Industries.

Prakash Chakravarti, Manju Dalal

India’s Largest Temples With Outstanding Architecture


It’s not just spirituality that draws people to these magnificent constructions, the brilliant architecture, peaceful atmosphere and an opportunity to embrace our culture; all these are elements that attract millions to Indian temples. Let us take a look at some of the largest comprehensive Hindu temples, as listed by Walk Through India.

Akshardham Temple

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Akshardham, also known as Delhi Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham is a Hindu temple complex in Delhi. It is a beautiful blend of architecture, tradition and spirituality. The temple developed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj with the support of 3,000 volunteers and 7,000 artisans was officially opened in the year 2005.It is an important landmark in Delhi and majority of the tourists who visit Delhi, make it a point to grasp the charm of this outstanding shrine as well.

Meenakshi Amman Temple

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Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple, devoted to Parvathi(known as Meenakshi) and Shiva, is situated on the banks of river Vaigai, in Madurai. 14 gateway towers, more popular as gopurams, ranging from 45-50m in height can be found in the temple complex. It is one of the most prominent landmarks in the temple city of Madurai, drawing 15,000 visitors a day and around 25,000 on Fridays. There are 33,000 sculptures in the temple and the shrine also made it to the list of top 30 nominees of the ”New Seven Wonders of the World”. Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival, a 10 day celebration which is held during the months of April and May, attracts more than 1 million visitors.

Annamalaiyar Temple

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The shrine is situated at the base of Annamalai Hill in the town of Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. The main deity is Lord Shiva and the temple is associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of fire, or Agni. The Karthigai Deepam is one of the main festivals celebrated here, during the day of the full moon between November and December. An enormous fire is lit at the top of the hill, which denotes the Shiva lingam of fire joining the sky and nearly 3 million pilgrims visit the temple to witness this charm. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

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A beautiful construction of the 1987 AD, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world. Frequently listed as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world, it has the second tallest Gopuram. The temple is located in Tiruchirapalli(Tamil Nadu), on an island in Cauvery River and the architecture has been inspired by Dravidian style. During the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January), a 21-day festival is celebrated here, drawing around 1 million visitors.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, a renowned Vaishnava temple in South India has a total of 21 gopurams (towers), 39 pavilions, fifty shrines, Ayiram kaal mandapam (a hall of 1000 pillars) and numerous small water bodies inside.

There are numerous large and beautiful Hindu temples in the country, from which a selected few are mentioned in the article.

NASA Unveils Potentially Hazardous Asteroids Map


In case you were wondering if Hollywood scenarios like the Armageddon could ever come to pass, NASA has just found an answer for you. In a recently unveiled map of potentially hazardous asteroids, the US Space Agency suggests those dangerous asteroids that are close to Earth’s orbit are several thousands.

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The disconcerting map of the inner Solar System points to the orbits of 1,400 PHAs that are currently close to our planet. This is part of NASA’s Near Earth Objects program and it only includes asteroid bodies that are considered dangerous.

Why are these considered dangerous asteroids, you may ask? For one thing, there is the size issue as these bodies are all over 140 meters in diameter. Included in this category are also asteroids that currently pass close to the Earth’s orbit, which is within 7.5 million kilometers from our planet.

The PHA map displays a rather dizzying swarm of orbits surrounding the sun. Most of the orbits are concentrated around the orbit of Jupiter.

If the thought of so many large asteroids hovering over the Earth is scary, try not to panic. According to NASA experts, these are only classified as potentially hazardous, and not an imminent threat to our life on Earth.

This does not mean that any of these PHAs will impact the planet over the coming 100 years. However, constant observation is necessary to map out their trajectory and to observe potential threats in the decades to come.

This NASA map shows the orbits of thousands of potentially hazardous asteroids.

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In fact, NASA researchers and astronomers are on a constant lookout for asteroid bodies that may pose a threat to the Earth. According to a NASA spokesperson, almost 90% of the largest asteroids that have been identified as potential threats so far, were unveiled by such surveys and mapping systems.

NASA’s Near Earth Objects (NEO) Program is focused on mapping all comet and asteroid activity that occurs near our planet’s orbit, in an attempt to have a clear decade long warning in place, in case a large object like a PHA approaches the Earth.

The Future of Indian Power: Hard vs. Soft


There has been considerable talk over the past few years about India as a “global soft power”. This is a reference to the spread of certain aspects of Indian culture (such as Indian cuisine, music, and dance) throughout the world and its rising popularity in the West. It is also a reference to Bollywood and its growing international fan base that now includes Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. The spread of these elements of Indian culture and “Indian-ness” is often hailed as Indian “soft power”, as it was by Shashi Tharoor (watch his TED speech on the subject here). However, I take a slightly different stance. I view Indian soft power as virtually non-existent in its current state, and I also feel that it is unlikely for India to become a true global soft power anytime soon (though it does have the potential to become one). Instead, India’s rise to global power status – if and when it happens – will be due to its increasing hard power, and India for the foreseeable future will have to rely on hard power to project its influence abroad.

In order to analyze hard vs. soft power in the Indian context, it is first important to understand what “hard” and “soft” power exactly refer to, and how they differ. “Hard” power refers to the use of military and/or economic means to exert one’s influence upon another. In practice, the application of “hard” power tends to be fundamentally coercive in nature. The Indian covert support of the Mukti Bahini and later the overt military intervention into Bangladesh, the Soviet threat to use nuclear weapons against Britain and France during the Suez Crisis, and the imposition of economic sanctions on socialist Cuba by the United States are all examples of the utilization of “hard” power. “Soft” power, on the other hand, refers to the ability to attract and “seduce” (as opposed to coerce) other parties. The American political scientist Joseph Nye, who first coined the terms “hard” and “soft power, identified three categories of soft power: culture, political values, and policies. The utility of each of the three elements depends on their ability to attractExamples of “soft” power may include the extensive Wahhabi influence throughout the Islamic world due to Saudi state sponsorship, the emergence of Marxist-Leninist states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America based on the model of the Soviet Union, and the ability of the United States to historically attract large numbers of immigrants because of its sociopolitical values and free, democratic society.

While examples of both hard and soft power abound in history as well as in the present day, there is no simple way of measuring power or identifying the factors and conditions that lead to it. A country’s hard power is a rough aggregate of various factors, including its GDP, total population, defence budget, technological prowess, energy production and consumption, and others. Statistics that attempt to measure hard power include the National Power Index and the Composite Index of National Capability, both of which list India as the world’s third most powerful country based on their criteria.

It is considerably more difficult to identify the underlying factors of soft powers than that of hard vague, owing to its more vague and imprecise nature. Nevertheless, I will attempt to ascertain specific conditions that enable an entity to exercise soft power.  One of the most important prerequisites for becoming a major soft power is to have “native ownership” of an ideology that can be used as a means of influence; that is, the ideology should be recognizable as a distinct and unique attribute of that particular country. During the Cold War, for example, the United States and Soviet Union represented the de facto embodiments of capitalist democracy and Marxist socialism, respectively. As mentioned earlier, Marxist-Leninist states emerged around the world during this period (including Cuba, Angola, and Vietnam, among others) and allied themselves with the USSR; likewise, newly-formed capitalist democracies like those of the three principal powers of the defeated Axis alliance (Germany, Japan, and Italy) came under the fold of American soft power in the post-WWII world and became close allies of the U.S. On the other hand, it would be virtually impossible for a country like Pakistan to exercise any meaningful soft power based on ideology, since Pakistan’s ideology is based on Islamic ‘nationalism’ where it views itself as part of a greater ‘Ummah’, but is certainly not recognized by the members of the ‘Ummah’ as its leader. In other words, Pakistan does not have native ownership over its own ideology, which inevitably leads to Pakistan associating itself with other, more influential members of the ‘Ummah’ like Saudi Arabia and Iran, at the obvious expense of its own subcontinental origins.

Another important condition in developing soft power is to have a universal ideology whose values can cut cross national, cultural, and ethnic borders and attract a diverse array of peoples. Countries that promote such universal values often tend to be pluralistic and inclusive in nature and held together by a shared ideology and political values, as both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in our previous example were (the U.S. is only about 60% white, while only about half the population of the erstwhile U.S.S.R. was ethnic Russian). On the other hand, countries that promote ethnocentrism and militaristic ultranationalism, as Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan did, will find it difficult to exert soft power, since such attitudes are inherently counterintuitive when it comes to attracting and co-opting other peoples. Such countries would be forced to rely on hard power to project their influence, which would historically fail all three of the main Axis powers in the long run since their hard power could not compete with that of their enemies.

In addition to the ideological and political aspects of soft power, it is also important to look at the nature of cultural soft power. Many aspects of American “culture”, such as Hollywood, MTV, Coca-Cola, and brand-name jeans are often touted as being elements of American “soft power”. Fundamentally, however, such superficial, materialistic aspects of American “culture” cannot and do not promote pro-American attitudes among foreigners. It would not be totally uncommon to find that some of the most virulent anti-American protestors in Pakistan, Iran, and elsewhere may also be avid fans of Hollywood flicks or regularly drink Coke. Although these aspects of American culture may be popular throughout the world, they cannot be considered to be aspects of “soft power”. Instead, meaningful cultural soft power would be able to significantly influence the paradigm of other cultures, as the major religions of Christianity and Islam have influenced numerous cultures around the globe.

Now that we have a better understanding of the difference between hard and soft power, and the underlying features of both, we can return to the specific case of power projection in the Indian context. The development of Indian soft power will rely ultimately on the promotion of meaningful cultural and/or political values that will attract people of other nations towards India. Just as the spread of superficial American “culture” cannot count as soft power, the promotion of meaningless, superficial aspects of Indian culture like food, cuisine, dance, etc. will not increase India’s power on a global scale. Nor does Bollywood, the supposed “holy grail” of Indian soft power, provide the necessary “muscle” for such power projection, since Bollywood only depicts the abovementioned superficial aspects of Indian culture. The immense popularity of Bollywood in Pakistan and Afghanistan, for example, has not turned Pakistan into a pro-Indian country, nor does it prevent Afghans (including the educated elite) from spitting on the floor whenever a Hindu idol is shown on TV. The fact is that the Indian entertainment industry has virtually no ability to influence the paradigm of its viewers, and can only bombard them with superficial trash. Perhaps if Bollywood placed less emphasis on petty song-and-dance numbers and focused more on producing movies that depict India’s history, culture, and values in a more profound fashion, such paradigm shifts can take place among international audiences. But Bollywood in its current state is far from being a true vehicle for exercising Indian soft power.

India may currently have close to zero soft power, but that does not mean it cannot become a major soft power sometime in the future. On the contrary, India has perhaps the greatest potential for exercising genuine soft power out of all developing countries. One major factor in India’s favor, which would in many other cases be an impediment, is its diverse and pluralistic society. As mentioned above, such societies are naturally able to attract other peoples and nations since they tend to be less discriminatory and more inclusive than homogeneous, ethnocentric societies. The definition of an “Indian” is fundamentally open-ended, universal, and expansive, just as the definitions of “American” or “Soviet” are/were. The elastic nature of these terms allows a person to become “Indianized”, “Americanized”, or “Sovietized” while still retaining aspects his/her indigenous culture, which is why we can see labels such as “Chinese-American” or “Soviet Armenian”. By looking into Indian history, we can also find examples of the spread of ‘Indian-ness’ to other countries. The time when Indian civilization enjoyed the greatest influence and soft power was the time when Buddhism was actively patronized by various Indian kings and spread throughout Asia. Since Buddhism is a universal ideology and is unrestricted by any borders whether they are of caste, ethnicity, language, or other, it was able to attract adherents from many different cultures. Indian universities, in the form of Buddhist mahaviharas such as those at Nalanda, Vikramashila, and Odantapuri, were the Harvard, Oxford, and Yale of the Classical period, attracting students from numerous distant countries. Indeed, there was a time when Indian soft power in the form of Buddhism was felt from the Caspian Sea to Japan and from Siberia to Indonesia, with India being regarded as the spiritual and cultural center of the world. Buddhism in India has since disappeared into the pages of history, but the fundamental Buddhist ideals of multiculturalism and all-inclusiveness still define Indian society today, and can form the basis of future Indian soft power.

In contrast to heterogeneous and inclusive societies, cultural expansion by homogeneous and more exclusive and ethnocentric societies tends to be much more ‘zero-sum’ and ‘total’; rather than co-opting other foreign cultures and peoples, they tend to be subjugated and assimilated into a greater whole. The expansion of Chinese civilization is one of the best examples of such assimilation, with the process of Sinicization continuing to this day in frontier regions like Tibet and Xinjiang. Given the inherently coercive and one-sided nature of such expansion and assimilation, it is not too surprising that China has historically not enjoyed the same level of soft power of more pluralistic, inclusive societies like those of India, the former Soviet Union, or the United States. Indeed, it has been greatly influenced by ideological and cultural aspects from each of the three mentioned powers (Buddhism, Marxism-Leninism, and capitalism respectively), but has not reciprocated the exchange by exporting ideologies of its own to any of the three powers.

Having examined the status of India’s soft power in the past and present, we can now begin to draw conclusions about the future of Indian power. India’s entertainment industry will continue to define India for foreigners, but as described previously, this will not be an effective means of power projection. Instead, India’s diverse and pluralistic society, and the fact that such a society has remained in one piece in spite all odds, can serve as a much more potent platform for exercising soft power. India might have some things to teach to the rest of the world when it comes to multiculturalism, especially in a world that is rapidly globalizing and one in which individual societies are dealing with alien ones on an unprecedented scale. On the other hand, however, India itself still faces numerous internal problems, and India is still far from serving as an effective model of a pluralistic society. It seems to me that India, at least for the near future, will have to continue to rely on its ever-expanding hard power as a means of influence.

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