India’s ‘soft power’

I have watched Shashi Tharoor on youtube. He often mentions India’s ‘soft power’ as one of India’s strengths.

He speaks in impeccably good English. I speak with the much maligned “Indian essent” despite having lived in the USA for decades. No wonder long time ago my roommate from IIT Roorkee, Praveen Mathur, had asked to see my GMAT scores on which my verbal score was am eye-popping 99%. On meeting me you will be disappointed. I am not a typical NRI or even an IITian. When I try to impress others they wonder at my pathetic attempts. Last year mentioned a policeman that ex defense minister Manohar Parrikar was my batchmate at IIT Bombay, he said ‘look at you, even Patna police does not know you. What a contrast.”

Back ro Shashi Tharoor. He is handsome, fair-skinned, very articulate, a person Western media loves as a representative of India. He mentioned Bollywood, yoga, ayurveda as some of the examples of India’s soft power. I thought he mentioned Infosys as one of the admired companies in the West, though looked for it and could not find it.

I have reached a stage where I don’t enjoy picking up unnecessary fights, and who will listen to me? But wanted to point out a few things.

Infosys is called a body shop. It is well run, and a matter of pride for Indians, but ‘soft power’ of India? Only yesterday I read that in IT services, Bangladesh has made inroads – making from 4% to 14%. Something like that. IT services field had been left to poor countries. It should be a matter of shame for Indians that its software engineers, are used to make life better for Western world, and not serving India.

Bollywood films, entertaining as those are, are hardly seen by Western world. A few exceptions are there – Aamir Khan’s PK and  Ayushmann Khurrana’s Andhadhun, which were supposedly superhits in China, but how long will it happen? There are a few actors and movies I enjoy but expecting outside world to do the same is unrealistic.

Yoga is the India’s gift to the world. But for Westerners, I lived in California, where yoga is practiced by millions, has its role relegated to overall fitness, and in especially, in firming of abs, boobs and assess. I few years ago I read in New Yorker magazine, that the British introduced its fitness program for living in India, it’s a stretching program with a few Sanskrit words and a gently Namaste introduced in it to make it appear Indian.

I could go on and on, many in the West think that India’s contribution to the world during the past 5,000 or so years has been next to nothing, and will continue.

Personally I don’t agree. Gita, Mahabharata, Upanishad etc are some of the greatest gifts but are even Indians following them.

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