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The twentieth century saw a rise and fall of many nations in terms of social, economic and political capability. Among the nations that rose from poverty, political instability and lack of appropriate social structures is India. According to Lak (2009), India, before the late 1980s and early 1990s was characterized by poverty, poor political policies and generally lack of appropriate economic and social structures that could play a role in dealing with poverty and other issues within its boundaries (p.2). All this happened in India due to appropriate reforms and their confidence to implement them in the Indian society. Whereas nations in the past employed hard power as a way of obtaining what they wanted, soft power is slowly but steadily taking over as a way of getting what a nation wants within and outside its boundaries.
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One of the factors that have contributed to the massive growth of social, economic and political infrastructure of India in the last decade has been its use of soft power as opposed to hard power. In reference to Lak (2009), the use of attraction and co-option within India’s infrastructure has contributed greatly to the growth of the Indian power and influence in the world economic and political circles (p.4). Whereas there are many channels of expanding one’s economy, the current world depends heavily on simple attraction of people, resources, knowledge and skills, technology, etc as a way of fostering an environment that is appropriate for growth rather than using force. As a result of mastering the tactics of soft power, India has been able to amass for itself power that is influential not only within its boundaries but also across the globe. Similarly, it is important for one to understand that after the end of colonial reign especially in the 20th century, soft power has continued and will continue to be a force in the social, economic and political world. Much of it has been championed by democracy that continues to take the center stage in world politics, thus positioning soft power to be an important factor in future.
Despite the fact that Indian has benefited a lot in its mastery of soft power in the last several years, soft power is not the only option to dealing with every challenges that it has continued to face as one of the growing economy and a potential superpower. To begin with, there has been an ownership crisis between Pakistan, China and India, that has existed for a long time now over Kashmir. The Kashmir conflict has necessitated the use of hard power to affirm the presence of India in this region even as Pakistan and China fights to continue holding on the regions they control in Kashmir. In this regard, lack of democracy in China and poor democratic structures in Pakistan has undermined the use of democracy in form of soft power in dealing with this conflict (Lak, 2009).
Soft power can therefore be defined as the use of attraction and co-option in order to obtain what one wants or rather needs to prosper in a particular community as opposed to the use of force, payments and coercion in obtaining what one wants. India has been able to utilize the advantages of soft power within its boundaries to attract investors and foreign currency, technology, knowledge and skills and other components that are necessary for its development. In this regard, the Indian movie and film industry has been growing at a fast rate thus being able to attract not only audience from outside India but also actors. Similarly, Indian fashion and food that is intermingled with the Indian culture and religion also continue to be a center of attraction to foreign investment and income. In regard to literature, there is an embracing of foreign languages such as English that has worked as a way of educating the world concerning India, a factor that has acted positively in disseminating knowledge about India, it culture and lifestyles, investment opportunities, and also as a way of acquiring knowledge and skills from advanced English speaking nations such as the UK and the US through further studies (Lak, 2009).
On the other hand, India and China vary completely in their approach to prosperity economically, socially and politically across the globe. Recent events reveal that China too has been trying to employ the tactics of soft power in its approach to attracting wealth and power. However, since China is not a democracy, it lacks the necessary mechanism to attract wealth that dwells in the hands of western democracies (Lak, 2009). For example, the China Olympics in 2008 failed to attract and retain investors from the western world due to fear among them of China’s communist status. Similarly, countries such as the United States perceive China and India as two forces, one democratic and the other a communist and would side with India if given an option due to its democratic status.
It is also important to understand that the United States has also extensively employed the use of soft power, especially with Europe with the exception of Russia. This has induced an environment of assurance and safety among the European countries thus making it easier for them to invest heavily in the United States. As a result, this has propelled the US economy, creating it as the largest world’s economy. In this regard, India has an opportunity of growing, and moving to closely in the footsteps of the US, it is destined to becoming a superpower too (Lak, 2009).
Whereas nations in the past employed hard power as a way of obtaining what they wanted, soft power is slowly but steadily taking over as a way of getting what a nation wants within and outside its boundaries. In this regard, it can be said that India has emerged among the most powerful nations in Asia, with a potential of growing even more. This can be attributed to its use of soft power in approaching the rest of the globe. However, there are limitations of soft power, especially in approaching disputes across the globe. Nevertheless, this cannot undermine the fact that political relations in future would depend heavily on soft power as a way of growing into an influential nations. This has been as a result of the misuse of hard power by the United States in the past centuries in asserting its superiority to world nations.