Date: 14th Dec 2014
(24th weekly column in the series “Narendra Modi & CXO Leadership”)
Soft power is however a difficult resource to leverage, and India’s political leadership and its diplomatic instrument have inconsistently capitalised upon these undoubted soft power resources over the last decade. References to Indian culture, to its diaspora, to its political values and to its economic development have mostly been rhetoric for image-polishing. It poses the question of whether India has really tried to exploit its huge soft power potential.
– India’s Soft Power: From Potential to Reality?, Nicolas Blarel in LSE’s 2012 Report “India: The Next Superpower?”
According to the 2013 Monocle Soft Power Survey, Germany currently holds the top spot in soft power. The top ten is completed by the UK, the US, France, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Switzerland, Canada and Italy. Joseph Nye of Harvard University, described ‘soft power as the ability to attract and co-opt rather than coerce, use force or give money as a means of persuasion’.
The UN General Assembly took up an India-led resolution and declared June 21 every year as ‘International Day of Yoga’, with an unprecedented 177 countries joining as co-sponsors, less than three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the idea.
The draft resolution recognises that “yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being,” echoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks to the annual General Assembly session in 27 September 2014. Besides proclaiming June 21 as the International Yoga day, the resolution recognises that wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practising yoga would be beneficial for the health of the world population and invite all member and observer States, organizations of the UN system and other international and regional bodies to observe it in order to raise awareness of the benefits of practising yoga.
Nye says, power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes you want. There are several ways one can achieve this: you can coerce them with threats; you can induce them with payments; or you can attract and co-opt them to want what you want. This soft power – getting others to want the outcomes you want – co-opts people rather than coerces them.
177 countries in the 193-member General Assembly joined as co-sponsors, the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA resolution. The initial official document circulated to the General Assembly, known as the L document, had 130 member states joining as co-sponsors, again the highest ever number of co-sponsors for such a document. Co-sponsorers included five permanent members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, the UK and the United States. Several Asian, European and Latin American countries and nearly 60% of African nations are also co-sponsorers including Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand and the UAE.
It is also for the first time that such an initiative has been proposed and implemented by any country in the UN General Assembly in less than 90 days.
In suggesting the June 21 date, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had indicated that the day has special significance in many parts of the world, being the longest day in the northern hemisphere. The resolution is adopted under ‘Global Health and Foreign Policy.’
In one stroke Prime Minister Narendra Modi has impacted the whole world with India’s soft power.
His first visit to United Nation has paid rich dividends not only for India but also for United Nations. In India, when one said United Nations only one thought used to come to mind; that is some kind of conflict, majority of the time that too related with J&K. Because of one man now the image of United Nation will change in India.
The definition of yoga come from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” meaning to unite, or the practice of uniting body, mind and spirit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not only united India with United Nations but also has united, United Nations and India with many Nations.
UN Resolution on International Day of Yoga Read the Resolution Copy
Sign of Acche Din (This is a partial list)
1. With Rs 500 crore of government funds, the project â€“ Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) will revitalise heritage cities in 3 years.
2. As per ‘The Annual Report on Nation Brands’ in December 2014 by Brand Finance; India has moved to number 8, with a brand value of US$ 1.6 tn.
(The Brand Finance Nation Brands measures the strength and value of the nation brands of 100 leading countries using a method based on the royalty relief mechanism that Brand Finance uses to value the world’s largest companies. The report provides each country with a measure of its brand strength in addition to its nation brand value.)
MISSING FOREST FOR THE TREES
Intro: While the potent argument is that a secular democracy cannot adopt Bhagwad Gita as a national scripture as it is revered by one religion, the counter argument is since the book is not a religious book, has been translated word over, and is meant for the whole humanity- then why not?
Call to declare Gita as National Book has been welcomed by one and all. There has been no intellectual argument against it, but there have been feeble protests from the usual Rudaali’s i.e. the professional weepers.
The one (confused) argument that has been put forward and that is worth mentioning is that Constitution of India is a national book. Well it will be worthwhile to reiterate the point that the “Constitution of India” is not applicable all over India e.g. J&K and, it is not applicable to all the Indians e.g. followers of Islam have a different set of laws for them. Hence ‘Constitution of India’ is out of contention as National Book.
|Following box gives few examples of Gita’s effect on best brains of the world.
~ Albert Einstein
~ Dr. Albert Schweizer
~ Aldous Huxley
~ Henry David Thoreau
~ Herman Hesse
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
~ Rudolph Steiner
There is precedence to this argument; which is as follows:
Tiger was adopted as the National Animal by the Indian Board for Wildlife in 1972. It was selected over the Asiatic Lion because of its presence in larger swathes of the country (it is found in 16 states while the lion is found only in the Gir forest). And, Peacock was chosen from among other contenders—including the Great Indian Bustard, the Sarus crane, the mythical Garuda, and the swan—because of its distribution throughout India, for being easily recognisable, and its association with Indian myths and legends. It was selected also because it would not be confused with the national birds of other countries, and could lend itself to formal depictions in government documents.
Similarly, Gita has made impact across the world and across different disciplines. Business Week magazine said that Bhagavad Gita is the favoured text in US for ideas about leadership. Sessions on corporate learning’s from Bhagavad Gita have been conducted for members of the Young Presidents’ Organization, at the Wharton School etc. Mustafa Bulent Ecevit, the four-times Turkish Prime Minister, was asked what had given him the courage to send Turkish troops to Cyprus. He answered that he was fortified by the Bhagavad Gita, which taught that if one were morally right, one need not hesitate to fight injustice. (The Telegraph)
|Prime Minister Modi gifted the Bhagavad Gita to US President Barack Obama, which means it has already received the honour of a national scripture. What we require is only a formal announcement now to officially declare the Gita as a national scripture.
—Sushma Swaraj said in a public meeting to commemorate 5,151 years of the Bhagavad Gita at the Red Fort
Gita is truly a book of the world. Quran and Bible can’t be compared with Gita, as they are specific to the religion. Hence, the attempt to create a religious divide by the rudaalis is futile. Urdu poet Anwar Jalalpuri, former chairman of Uttar Pradesh Madarsa Board and former member of the Urdu Akademi (UP), has translated The Bhagavad Gita into Urdu shayari. (Tehelka)
Bint Zehra Rizvi, a devout scholarly lady translated the Bhagavad-Gita into Urdu language. Rizvi is a Muslim woman, 66 years old and a Professor of Hindi from Allahabad. She has done Masters in Sanskrit and Hindi. At the age of 19, Zehera Rizvi came across the Gita and felt that one’s life is incomplete if one does not read this heightened philosophy of life. (India Tribune)
In 1981, Larson listed more than 40 English translations of the Gita, stating that “A complete listing of Gita translations and a related secondary bibliography would be nearly endless.”
Modern day India has been created by freedom fighters. Gita was the common thread among freedom fighters separated by time and ideology from Bose to Gandhi, Tilak to R C Dutt, Madan Mohan Malviya to Khudiram Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai to Damodar-panth Chapekar, C Rajagopalachari to Madanlal Dhingra, Khudiram Bose to Hemu Kalani. So one book that deserves to be called as National Book of India post 1947; has to be Gita.
National portal of India, www.national.gov.in lists National Symbols and calls it National Identity Elements of India. It says, these symbols are intrinsic to the Indian identity and heritage. Indians of all demographics backgrounds across the world are proud of these National Symbols as they infuse a sense of pride and patriotism in every Indian’s heart.
Going by the definition there is every reason why Gita should be declared National Book at the earliest.
One should remember that there are 12 National Symbols; they are Anthem – Jana Gana Mana, Animal – Tiger, Aquatic Animal – Dolphin, Bird – Peacock, Calendar – Saka, Flag – Tri Colour, Flower – Lotus, River – Ganga, Song, – Vande Mataram, State Emblem – Lion, Tree – Banyan.
Yes, you have read it correctly; it doesn’t include Hockey and Gandhi i.e. what we think to be National Game and National Father.
And of the 12, National River: Ganga and National Aquatic Animal – Gangetic Dolphin was declared national symbols in 2009 and 2008 respectively by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. There was no issue of secular-communal then, hence it is simple to conclude that recent protests are political in nature and should be ignored at best. Other 10 selections also happened when so called secular parties where in power.
Last but not the least National Tree, Banyan is the resting place of Lord Krishna and National Flower, Lotus as per Gita is a metaphor for detachment; so it is time that the book of Knowledge of Krishna be declared as National Book.
Sandeep Singh (The writer is founder of www.swastik.net.in and writes a weekly column Narendra Modi & CXO Leadership)