Much of the credit for on the ground promotion and propagation of Indian culture abroad rightly goes to the efforts of Indian diaspora

Be it the popularity of Indian festivals, Bollywood, performing arts, cuisines or the scholarly appreciation of philosophy, yoga, traditional medicines or languages, Indian cultural presence abroad is wide, varied and deep, Minister of State External Affairs Muraleedharan said.

Delivering the inaugural address on Saturday at the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) Conference on Leveraging the Soft Power of India, Muraleedharan said government programmes have played an important role, but much of the credit for on the ground promotion and propagation of Indian culture abroad rightly goes to the efforts of Indian diaspora.

Noting that the Government-diaspora partnership for cultural preservation and promotion has worked very well, he said however, a significant share of cultural penetration abroad can be and has been carried out essentially by the diaspora.

Building on this strength, a time seems to have come to explore new ways of further enhancing the diaspora's role in preservation and promotion of culture abroad, the Minister added.

The Indian message of universal fraternity has been carried world over by the Indian diaspora over centuries, he noted.

The members of diaspora possess a unique virtue of narrating the Indian story to the foreigners in their own language whereas bringing their stories back to India in the language which the Indians understand, the Minister stated.

“We could hardly aspire for a more efficient and sustainable two way bridge of goodwill and understanding between India and its partners world over,” he argued.

Noting that India values the importance of diaspora in soft power projection, Muraleedharan said the government has introduced a variety of initiatives and measures to strengthen and support their connection with Indian roots and heritage.

He said some of the important diaspora outreach initiatives include- Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Know India Programmes, exchange programmes, scholarships for diaspora children, Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme (ITEC), cultural festivals, Indian cultural centres abroad and many more.

Further, the MoS maintained that India is rightly referred to as the melting pot of diverse philosophies, thoughts and ethos, creating a unique syncretic cultural mix, he stated.

“Having lived with a long history of acceptance, accommodation and assimilation of a truly pluralistic life, the Indian society has inculcated an extraordinary openness and affability, where nothing looks unfamiliar,” Muraleedharan said.

“This led to the well-known spirit of ‘उदारचरिताना तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम’ which signifies ‘the broad minded sees the entire world as one family’ and ‘सर्वधर्म समभाव’ that means ‘all righteous thoughts can co-exist’, he argued.

“These inclusive philosophies provide the Indian society with a capacity for a win-win global discourse, beyond the limits of the conventional zero-sum mindset,” the Minister of State for External Affairs, said.

The fundamentals of India's foreign policy also truly manifest these ideals, from ‘The Panchsheel’-the guiding beacon of peaceful coexistence to the SAGAR- a contemporary call for shared development and prosperity, he explained.

Similar sentiments govern India's non-reciprocal and recipient driven development partnership programme, Muraleedharan further said.

This fascinating civilizational journey loudly conveys that India will always be willing to share its progress and prosperity with others and means harm to none, he mentioned.

According to the MoS for External Affairs, with the passage of time, Indian cuisine has emerged amongst the most popular globally.

“Today wherever you travel in the world, from Tokyo to Toronto, from London to Lagos, from Fiji to Finland, you find quality and well attended Indian restaurants,” he said.

“Many Indian Chefs stand tall amongst the global celebrity club. Popularity of Indian cuisine abroad can be judged by the fact that even the English have started calling 'CTM'-Chicken Tikka Masala as their national dish,” the Minister informed.

He held that Indian Craft is also evolving as a growing new sector especially in fashion design, ethnic craft and painting, also resulting in the emergence of some reputed Indian craft centres in several diaspora countries.

Several Indian designers are counted among the global best, he suggested.

Cuisine, craft and creativity are not only cultural success stories but also mean good business, Muraleedhran submitted.