Populism and Public Diplomacy
While India’s global influence has a long and complex history, this chapter suggests that, as India emerges as a major economic power (on purchasing power parity terms, it is the world’s third largest economy), the country’s cultural power will also grow. This process is also underpinned by its 25-million strong diaspora, seen by the Modi government as a key strategic resource for promoting the country’s soft power. From mobile telephony to online communication, India has witnessed a revolution in the production and distribution of its cultural products, as well as a steady growth of Indic ideas—ranging from sustainable living and alternative lifestyles to celebratory religiosity and multilingualism—and now reaching all corners of an increasingly digitized globe. The chapter argues, however, that the populist streak in policy restricts the potential of a global India, especially since the pluralism for which India is known is increasingly under strain in the majoritarian discourse of current domestic and foreign policy.