The CPD Blog is intended to stimulate dialog among scholars and practitioners from around the world in the public diplomacy sphere. The opinions represented here are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect CPD's views. For blogger guidelines, click here.

Two recent books on China and India have highlighted the rising importance of public diplomacy within the foreign policies of these rising Asian giants. Taken together, U.S. academic David Shambaugh’s China Goes Global and Indian writer and Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor’s Pax Indica reveal some telling differences between the way both governments approach the pursuit of soft power. Both books suggest quite divergent outlooks for the two governments in their search for global influence through PD in the coming years.

India’s great nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi coined the term satyagraha as a philosophy of non-violent political struggle in 1906, while he was engaged in the early anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. His political philosophy, refined over subsequent years as he returned to India to lead its struggle against British imperialism, had far-reaching impacts. Gandhi’s philosophy helped to fuel independence struggles not only in South Africa, but in India, a host of other post-colonial countries, as well as the African-American civil rights movement in the United States.

Before public diplomacy, there was propaganda, a term coined by Pope Gregory XV in 1622 when he founded a new college to train missionaries to be sent to Protestant Northern Europe, Asia, and the New World. In this context, it is often noted that the Pope’s intention in making his new congregation responsible for ‘propaganda fide’-literally, propagating the faith-was not to endorse a shared information policy based on deceitful practices. Rather, the connotation of this first use of the term ‘propaganda,’ and its meaning until the twentieth century, was a value-neutral one.