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IAS library Current Affairs 20-04-2018

The Soft Power of India


G.S. Paper 2

About the soft power and its parameters

Nehru’s vision

Status and responsibilities of leaders


  • There is a lot of talk these days in the strategic about India being a major or even global power, with the capability and responsibility, to play an ‘important role’ on the world stage as a balancing power between major powers and as a ‘security provider’ to others.

What is the issue here?

  • We need to temper this rhetoric, be more realistic and less ambitious.
  • The dividing line between national pride and national ego can be thin.

What is a Soft Power?

  • Soft power describes the use of positive attraction and persuasion to achieve foreign policy objectives.
  • Soft power shuns the traditional foreign policy tools of carrot and stick.
  • It instead seeks to achieve influence by building networks, communicating compelling narratives, establishing international rules, and drawing on the resources that make a country naturally attractive to the world.

What are the parameters to measure soft power?

  • DIGITAL : A country’s digital infrastructure and its capabilities in digital diplomacy.
  • CULTURAL: The global reach and appeal of a nation’s cultural outputs, both pop-culture and high-culture.
  • ENTERPRISE: The attractiveness of a country’s economic model, business friendliness, and capacity for innovation.
  • EDUCATION: The level of human capital in a country, contribution to scholarship, and attractiveness to international students.
  • ENGAGEMENT: The strength of a country’s diplomatic network and its contribution to global engagement and development.
  • GOVERNMENT: Commitment to freedom, human rights, and democracy, and the quality of political institutions.

What was Nehru’s vision?

  • India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was convinced that India was bound to play an increasing and beneficent part in world affairs.
  • He had developed a zeal for diplomacy that was not backed by the needed military and economic hard power.
  • He was banking on our moral high ground because he and the nation were proud of the non-violent manner in which we had achieved our independence.
  • As early as 1948, he declared:-“India had already become the fourth or fifth most influential country in the United Nations.”

Status and responsibility of the Leaders

  • Leaders everywhere look for a role for themselves.
  • They believe, perhaps genuinely, that an increased prestige for themselves will translate into more votes domestically and ipso facto bring benefits to their countries.
  • The driving factor is prestige, status.
  • Often the leaders do not realise that playing a role carries with it responsibilities which we may not be able or keen to accept but which we might be dragged into.
  • These responsibilities would be defined by others and would invariably involve us into tasks and areas which we may not wish to get involved in.

What are the real goals?

  • Apart from protecting our people from adverse external factors and interventions, the principal criterion in the conduct of foreign policy for India ought to be lifting the poor from poverty.
  • Whatever brings concrete benefits to our people should be encouraged.
  • A mere wish to be praised as a global or even regional power should not be allowed to guide the policy.


India’s Renewed Interest In The Commonwealth- What & Why


G.S. Paper 2,3

India’s interest in commonwealth

History and recent issue


  • The Commonwealth Summit is to be held this week in London.

What is the issue?

  • The Indian debate on the future of the forum has certainly changed.
  • After decades of ignoring it, Delhi now believes that a rejuvenated Commonwealth could lend greater depth to India’s global outreach.

A brief History:

  • When Jawaharlal Nehru decided to join the Commonwealth after Independence, many expressed deep discomfort with what they saw as a needless affiliation with the former colonial power.
  • Nehru, however, stood steadfast in his commitment to the Commonwealth. For him, it was a valuable political and economic link to a major Western power during the Cold War.
  • While both Indira and Rajiv saw some utility in India’s membership of the Commonwealth, India’s growing divergence with Britain and the West during the Cold War and an inward economic orientation severely limited Delhi’s possibilities with the forum.
  • As Britain itself turned to Europe, the Commonwealth began to lose much of its lustre in London.
  • When India opened up to the world, politically and economically, after the Cold War, with its focus on the US and China on the one hand and South Asia on the other, the Commonwealth simply fell off India’s mental map.

Why there is Delhi’s renewed interest in the Commonwealth?

  • It has been long overdue.
  • It is based on common sense.
  • At a moment when India’s global interests are expanding, the pragmatists in Delhi argue, India must make the best use of all available multilateral forums, including the Commonwealth.

What is the way ahead?

  • The Commonwealth needs to give up its “prescriptive approach” on rights.
  • The focus should be on bringing greater economic prosperity for the peoples of the forum through an enhanced trade and investment relationship.
  • The Commonwealth could devote considerable energies towards the promotion of sustainable development and maritime security, which pose existential challenges to the many small and island states in the forum.
  • The Commonwealth can become more valuable to its member states if it directs its aid and assistance to a few major priority areas rather than spreading its resources on a range of issues.
  • India can and must do a lot of things in re-energising the Commonwealth. The government’s emphasis must be on strengthening India’s contribution to the Commonwealth.
  • As the soon-to-be largest economy in the forum, India can significantly increase its levels of economic assistance, give more to the maintenance of the Secretariat, boost the current efforts on capacity building, and above all, open its economy to facilitate trade liberalisation across the Commonwealth.
  • Reviving the Commonwealth is not about India taking over from Britain. It is about reordering the relationship between Delhi and London.
  • Although the relations between India and Britain have significantly improved, Britain is yet to do what most other Western powers have done.
  • It is to recognise that India’s rise is in their own national interests. Britain has remained somewhat hesitant to align with India on the regional issues in the Subcontinent and beyond.
  • A significant change in that direction could help transform the bilateral relationship as well as the Commonwealth.


  • Many British intellectuals are warning against the illusion that the Commonwealth can be a substitute for the European Union.
  • There is no reason for India to be drawn into that internal argument in Britain.
  • What matters for India are the terms of engagement that is on offer for a new British relationship with India and the Commonwealth in the changed domestic and international context.
  • Negotiating favorable terms is what that should matter for Delhi.


IMD Findings and Auditing of water resources


G.S. Paper 2

Findings of IMD

Effect of monsoon on the economy

Need for auditing of water resources


  • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has recently released the monsoon forecast for this year.

What are the findings of IMD?

  • The country would experience a normal monsoon for the third successive year.
  • South-west monsoon at 97% of the long period average (LPA) is expected.
  • Long Period Average (LPA) is the average annual rainfall for the period 1951-2000.
  • The LPA comes to about 89 cm of rain.
  • Monsoon is considered normal if average rainfall is between 96% and 104% of the LPA.
  • Anything less than 90% of the LPA is considered a deficient monsoon.

How normal monsoon would enhance economy?

  • The forecast of a normal monsoon enhanced the economic outlook.
  • For farmers especially, this has given fresh expectations.
  • This is the third year in a row to look forward to a high output for a variety of crops.
  • However, it is not to be forgotten that fiscal realities have come in the way of realising higher farm incomes.
  • The Centre has been supportive of higher returns through the Minimum Support Price mechanism.
  • Moreover, additional bonuses have been announced by States such as Madhya Pradesh for procurement.

Why there is a need for caution?

  • Government efforts have mainly helped only rice and wheat.
  • This trend has led to a skew towards these crops.
  • This is especially worrying from a water management perspective.
  • As the above crops are heavily dependent on groundwater.
  • With a normal monsoon, another year of good cropping is expected.
  • But unremunerative prices will depress public sentiment.
  • So it is vital for the Centre to arrive at a policy.
  • Farmers should be given constructive advice on the ideal cropping mix.
  • They should be helped to get the cost-plus-50% margin that the Centre has promised them.

Why auditing of water resources is crucial for India?

  • Rainfall ranges from a few hundred millimeters or less in the northwest to more than a few thousand millimeters elsewhere.
  • The long-term challenge for India is to make the most of the rainfall it receives.
  • India notably uses more water to grow crops comparing to, say, China.
  • Combined with distortions in procurement subsidies, water stress due to exorbitant use is inevitable.

What needs to be done?

  • The Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Ground Water drawn up by the Centre should be pursued scientifically.
  • This is to help States (with the most water-stressed blocks) get adequate funds to build artificial recharge structures.
  • Moreover, for farmers choosing to continue with wheat and rice, transfer of expertise is crucial.
  • Also, provision of equipment that enables efficient utilisation of water is vital.
  • A good monsoon raises agriculture’s contribution to GDP growth.
  • So it is essential that the governments invest consistently to harvest the monsoon.

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