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Foreign Policy Brief: Update on Bharat’s Soft Power

July – Sept 2019

The past three months have been extremely eventful for Indian foreign policy with some successes and some challenges. Amidst all of this, the principles of Panchamrit – suraksha (security), samman (respect), samvad (dialogue), samriddhi (prosperity) and sanskriti evam sabhyata (culture and civilization) – have echoed in our actions. The recently concluded visit of PM Modi to the United States reflected upon this. His speech at the United Nations General Assembly left the listeners with a powerful remark – India has given (to the world) Buddha, not yuddha (conflict). This policy brief highlights the manifestation of India’s civilizational and soft power connection with the world. It also brings to you the work of the Centre for Strategic and Foreign Relations at Vision India Foundation in the past three months.

Foreign Policy Updates:

India’s Diaspora Diplomacy projected at Howdy Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a gathering of over 50,000 India-American community in Houston in Texas, US. The event highlighted the Indian government’s efforts to reach out to the Diaspora community who have been significant contributors to the growth story of India and the US. The event was also attended by President Trump, signalling the increasing bonhomie between India and the US. During his visit to the US, PM Modi was also awarded the Global Goalkeeper Award by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his leadership in the Swachh Bharat Mission.
Details: News18

MHRD and IIT Announces 1000 Scholarships for ASEAN Nationals 
The Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) announced 1000 scholarships for aspiring academicians and researchers from the ten ASEAN nations. The PhD programme will be awarded by Indian Institute of Delhi, which has also been recognized as an ‘Institution of Eminence’ in India. Having 1000 scholars from the ten ASEAN Nations to study in India is a significant step in promoting educational and people-to-people relations, and strengthen cultural ties with ASEAN countries.
Details: Daily Pioneer


South Asian and Southeast Asian Nations Participate in the International Ramayana Festival
Eight countries including Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Mauritius participated in the fifth edition of the International Ramayana Festival organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. The three-day festival showcased the various adaptations of Ramayana in local folklore traditions of these countries. It was also a demonstration of the centuries-old civilizational bond that India has shared with South and Southeast Asia.
Details: Daily Pioneer


India and Bahrain Strengthen Bilateral Cooperation 
PM Modi met with Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain to discuss various sectors of cooperation including culture, space and International Solar Alliance. This was the first time an Indian Prime Minister had visited the Gulf country of Bahrain. PM Modi was also conferred with the King Hamad Order of Renaissance award for his leadership in strengthening India-Bahrain relations. India also committed $4.2 million for the redevelopment of the 200-year old Shreenath ji temple in Bahrain.
Details: Mint


Jaipur accorded the UNESCO World Heritage status
The walled city of Jaipur was accorded the status of the World Heritage Site by UNESCO, for its exemplary urban planning ‘designed to be a commercial capital, the city has maintained its local commercial, artisanal and cooperative traditions to this day.’India’s nomination of Jaipur at UNESCO was supported by countries including Brazil, Indonesia, China, Australia and Norway. This title has provided a major push in creating better facilities for tourists and residents of the walled city and thereby generating more revenue from tourism.
Details: NDTV

Opinion by Change-Agents:

The following opinion pieces by the team and mentors for Strategic and Foreign Relations at VIF delve into key issues in India’s international relations.

  • Stress in the Indo-US engagement in the Yale global by Prof. Harsh V Pant and Paras Ratna
  • Space for manoeuvre: Kashmir and International Politics in the Economic Times by Sh. Sanjay Pulipaka and Paras Ratna
  • India-US relations: natural partners with conditions applied in the IPP Review by Paras Ratna
  • Holistic Development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in IPP Review by Rakshit Mohan
  • Article 370, Federalism ANd Reorganisation of States in SNI Wire by Sh. Sanjay Pulipaka and Rakshit Mohan
  • India’s Hamletian Dilemma About RCEP in SNI Wire by Rakshit Mohan and Aditya Menon

Events at the Centre for Strategic and Foreign Relations

We at the Centre for Strategic and Foreign Relations (CSFR) are making concerted efforts in securing and strengthening India’s foreign policy interests through long-term measures. With this motivation, we organized the summer edition of the World Governance Expedition in July, held the first edition of the conference on the Western Indo-Pacific and initiated a reading club.

World Governance Expedition – Russia, July 2019

Vision India Foundation’s organized the fifth edition of the World Governance Expedition was to Russia in July 2019, in support of the Embassy of Russia to India and the Municipality of St. Petersburg. 25 delegates from India experienced Russia’s governance acumen and a unique culture consciously preserved for decades. Some of the key projects included visit to Russian Election Commission, Russia International Affairs Council, and Sputnik News Agency. The delegation also interacted with leaders from the legislative assembly of St. Petersburg and represented India in the conference – Muncipal Cooperation of BRICS  Countries organized by the St. Petersburg Kupchino Municipality. India and Russia have shared strong diplomatic relations and centuries-old cultural connections, that continue to thrive today. The World Governance Expedition to Russia was not just a unique experience but also a contribution in strengthening people-to-people ties between the two countries.

Exploring the Western Indo-Pacific, September 2019

With the aim of enhancing the ties between the countries of the Indo-Pacific and to bring the focus on the regions West of India, CSFR organized the conference on Exploring the Western Indo-Pacific: Prospects and Challenges of Engagement with the Western Indo-PacificThe event was hosted by Jawaharlal Nehru University and witnessed the participation of diplomats, professors, media, and researchers from the think-tank community in New Delhi. The conference had an impressive list of speakers like Shri Shakti Sinha, Commodore Abhay Singh, Prof Harsh Pant, Prof Amit Singh, Dr Pragya Pandey, Ambassador Anil Trigunayat, Dr Sushmita Rajwar, and Prof Sreeram Chaulia.

International Relations Reading Club

The Centre for Strategic and Foreign Relations started a Reading Club for foreign policy enthusiasts to meet on discuss works on international relations. The first gathering in August 2019 reviewed the book Open Embrace: India-US Ties in the Age of Modi and Trump by Verghese George. In the second meet-up in September 2019 we discussed the book- The Prisoners of Geography’ by Tim Marshall. The reading club is a monthly gathering, held at VIF Office in New Delhi. We welcome book suggestions and participation.

At VIF we continue to maintain our focus on preparing the next-generation leaders of our country. Centre for Strategic and Foreign Affairs (CSFR) aims at connecting the future leaders across the world to India and build on a leadership committed to achieving the aspirations of sustainable and prosperous humanity. Join us in our exciting journey of being change-agents and story-tellers of India.