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Significance of India as a soft power


  1. This article discusses different conflict resolution approaches by India and China.


  1. The recent Ukraine crisis has highlighted the differences between India’s approach to conflict resolution and China’s.
  2. India has used various symbolic instruments to enhance its soft power appeal, projecting itself as a “mother of democracies” and a “moral force” for global peace.
  3. Prime Minister Modi has spoken to Ukraine President Zelenskyy multiple times, expressing India’s solidarity and support for peace efforts.
  4. In contrast, China has positioned itself as an opponent to the American approach by holding NATO‘s eastward expansion responsible for instigating the war and painting America as the biggest obstacle to a ceasefire.

Different approaches:

  1. India’s approach to conflict resolution emphasizes its status as a responsible global player and promoter of peace. India has historically been a strong advocate of multilateralism and has been involved in numerous international peacekeeping missions.
  2. In contrast, China often takes a more assertive approach to conflict resolution. China has been known to use economic leverage, such as trade sanctions, to assert its interests in global issues. China has also become more aggressive in its military posture in recent years, especially in the South China Sea.
  3. Unlike China, India sees its role as being supportive of peace and has extended support to Ukraine in various ways.
  4. The use of the “Vishwaguru” phrase by Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister highlights India’s nationalist foreign policy discourse and the unique nature of soft power in foreign policy debates.
  5. This may be understandable as India has often taken an evasive position on conflicts that involve its traditional allies.
  6. India’s support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression is in line with its adherence to the Westphalian notion of sovereignty.
  7. India’s historical ties with Russia and dependence on military resources also limit its ability to play a role in mediating the conflict.
  8. India’s lack of hard power has been acknowledged, with some criticizing India’s ambiguous position on the Ukraine crisis, especially considering India’s aspiration to become a permanent member of the UNSC.
  9. However, India’s political elite does not resonate with Russia’s justifications for its military actions in Ukraine.
  10. China’s offensive in Ukraine is aimed at increasing Russia’s dependency on China. India must ensure that its refusal to condemn Russia is not seen as a pro-Moscow approach, even as it seeks to find manoeuvring space in the emerging nexus between Russia and China.