india

Indian and Pakistani diplomats tend to agree on one thing: A peace deal with their quarrelsome neighbor will need to be worked out under the cover of darkness through a so-called “back-channel.” [...] The benefits of backroom diplomacy are well known. Keeping negotiation processes outside the public gaze allows parties to make concessions and explore creative proposals that could otherwise mean political suicide for their leaders.

For a guy who started out in advertising a couple of decades ago, it’s surprising he dismisses Cannes with a flick of his wrist. V Sunil, the man behind Motherland — known for its millennial-chic magazine — says, “It’s an encouragement if you win, but you take some pictures and you go home and unfortunately, nothing really changes. So when we started our company, we decided we are not going to get into that drama.” He’s launched movements like Incredible India and Make in India, and brands like Indigo and has seen the country itself go beyond campaigns to experiences.

The total amount of soft loans that India has committed in the past 14 years is about $24.2 billion, in over 60 developing countries. [...] The fact that India has loaned out capital amounting to nearly 1% of its current GDP is a clear indicator of  the primacy of ‘aid’ as a diplomatic tool. “If you are seen by most people as playing a benign developmental role, then you strengthen your credentials of contributing to global good…If you want to be seen as a leader, then you must act like one,” said a senior MEA official.

Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi were apparently talking movies, among other things, at a summit in Kazakhstan on Friday. Xi mentioned that he, like millions of Chinese, had enjoyed the hit Bollywood film Dangal. Xi and Modi went on to discuss boosting cultural cooperation between the two countries. [...] Dangal is still screening across China at more than 7,000 cinemas.Its success follows a string of other Bollywood films that have won over Chinese audiences in recent years, including the previous biggest hit, PK, which took in 118 million yuan.

Headlines explore government campaigns to increase their countries' soft power. 

Generations of Indian diplomats have been using mango for years to win both friends and foes. [...] Foreigners didn’t know how to tackle the fruit, a fact happily taken advantage of by one Indian diplomat living in Geneva. He once met Dag Hammarskjold, the UN secretary-general, who told him he kept getting mangoes from Indians which he didn’t know how to eat. [...] It was reported in 1955 that as Chou ate his mango “his beetling brow relaxed, his lips rippled into a smile… Thereafter, he ate out of Mr. Nehru’s hand and signed the famous joint declaration.”

Technology allows governments and citizens to communicate faster and more effectively. In the age of “digital diplomacy”, the ability to harness digital platforms effectively to engage people, exchange ideas and deliver key messages is more important than ever. Prime Minister Narendra Modi provides a great example of digital diplomacy done well by a head of a state. His use of digital tools has been central to his success both as a politician and India’s global advocate-in-chief.

China has scored a major victory in soft diplomacy by quietly launching its own Nalanda University, while the original Nalanda campus in Bihar, planned almost a decade ago, is still stuck with 455-acre dead space. China’s education ministry had managed to keep the plan a secret till a few weeks ago when it formally announced the enrolment for the Nanhai Buddhist College in Hainan province in May. 

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