The paper breaks the concept of soft power in the Indian context into two parts: state driven and non-state driven. Shetty analyzes these resources and interrogates whether India can use its soft power effectively in its quest to become a “great” power in today's world.
There has been a fairly dramatic transformation in the global power map in the last few years. Trump's America has changed the role of the U.S. in the world in a very fundamental way, pulling back from an active role in many parts of the world as well as in the U.N. and most multilateral platforms. China has come out of the closet in terms of more publically asserting its role as the second global superpower. This is most visible in its aggressive positioning in U.N. processes but increasingly portends a tectonic shift in geo-politics in all its dimensions. Europe has also been consumed by internal challenges triggered by the explosive growth of right wing populism which has resulted in Brexit and political turmoil in so many countries.
With the growth in its economy and pervasive presence in the world of internet technology and software, India has undoubtedly acquired a larger voice on the international stage in the last decade or so. The decisive second term victory of a Hindu majoritarian party brings new opportunities and challenges to India's soft power.
Little work has been done to understand the role of India's soft power, let alone factoring the contemporary realities. This paper is by no means aiming to fill this gap through a comprehensive scholarly study on this complex subject. It is a limited exploration to identify some key opportunities and challenges for India in today's context very much from a practical standpoint. We hope it will serve to trigger further research and action.