India, foreign policy, nation-branding, public diplomacy, rising powers, soft power
In recent years, several countries have made sustained efforts to project their ‘soft power’ abroad. Public diplomacy has been an important tool for this purpose. Public diplomacy involves activities usually undertaken by a national government to inform and influence foreign public opinion and attitudes in order to advance its foreign policy goals. Such activities include ‘nation-branding’, diaspora outreach, digital engagement, international broadcasting, and international exchange programmes, all of which are designed to promote a positive image and reputation of the country to a global audience. This paper discusses the role of public diplomacy in the service of India’s foreign policy goals during the twenty-first century. The practice of public diplomacy helps the country achieve two significant objectives. First, it helps allay any active or dormant fears within the international community about India as a rising power. Second, it helps India compete with other countries as it seeks to boost foreign tourist arrivals, attract foreign investment and secure new markets for its exports in an era of globalisation. This paper also briefly discusses some of the challenges associated with India’s use of public diplomacy.