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Lavanya Bahuguna

Blogger-in-Chief

Dr. Shashi Tharoor Wins Jaipur Women’s Hearts With His Soft Power

  • JWB Post
  •  July 13, 2015

FICCI FLO Jaipur Chapter invited Dr. Shashi Tharoor for their event on Sunday evening. Jaipur Marriot’s conference hall was jam packed with FLO Jaipur members including, Ms. Archana Garodia Gupta, National President FICCI FLO, who had come to listen to this Londoner with Indian roots.

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After Tharoor was given a warm welcome by Alka Batra, Chairperson FLO Jaipur, everybody stood up to sing National Anthem. _MG_6097a_MG_6090a

The expectations were high as he was going to speak on ‘India’s Soft Power. And why not? After all Tharoor is a renowned name in Indian politics and is an award-winning writer!cover2

Below are the excerpts from his talk with FLO Jaipur women that we have divided into pointers:

Shashi Tharoor begins, “What is the difference between power and ‘Soft Power’? Power is the ability to force someone work for you. Like, women who naturally have it. Soft power, on the other hand, is one’s ability to persuade someone to work for him.”_MG_6325a

Crystal clear definitions.

India’s soft power – what do we Indians have in us that make us a ‘soft power’ in the eyes of the world,” questions Tharoor. He asks, ‘Is it the ever-increasing population, our strong military force or the economics?”

Any guesses? He takes the first point – Love.

He explains, “India has old roots of being the ‘Soft Power’. Take the example of Buddhism. The power of compassion and perseverance. Moving further, India has always offered refuge to people from all over the world during hard times.”_MG_6393a

That’s true. India is a home to people of different religions who’ve migrated from various countries. For example – Parsis and Portugese.

Tharoor says, “Every new religion that came here could mingle up with other religions very easily. Zoroastrianism, Judaism, nobody had to struggle to stay in India. In other places, Jews were beaten, converted, raped, exploited; but in India, they found home and friends.”_MG_6363a

“What more. The Cheraman Jum’ah Masjid in Kerala is the first mosque in India, built in the 11th century AD. We have many such examples of India embracing everyone with open arms.”

Wow, did you know about this mosque’s history before? You can read more here.

Tharoor makes his words sound more authentic by saying, “Today, we can’t speak of India without talking about qawwali, cricket, bandhgalas! Even the name of our country is after River Indus which (now) flows in Pakistan! We’ve got so many influences and have held tight of every new thing that came our way. ”_MG_6366a

Talking about the second point that makes India identified as the ‘Soft Power’; he speaks of the art, culture and education.

Tharoor narrates incidents, “There was once a coverage on Indian movies and serials by BBC reporting how much they are loved in other countries. Example – in some part of the world, people plan their daily tasks in a way so that the schedule doesn’t collide with serial timings…be it their wedding. Another incidence was from Afghanistan where the thief robbed a parked car while the owner was busy watching ‘Kyuki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. The thief even wrote a message on the glass shield that said – ‘Tulsi Zindabad’.”

Funny.

He continues, “Yoga, for that matter, is one of our ruling ways as ‘Soft Power’. Add to this our cuisines and textiles. Indian curry houses (restaurants) are everywhere, and people love wearing our prints, colors and styles.”_MG_6373a

“What more? Big applause to our IITians and doctors. Education wise, we are already a brand name in America and other countries. With time, we have broken many stereotypes. We aren’t the land of snake charmers, elephants and Maharajas anymore…we’re called the computer freaks! The other day, a crazy man at one of the London airports asked me to fix his laptop because it wasn’t switching on!”

His speech somehow concludes that India’s power is not about conquering anyone or anything, but about being a land that attracts people through its quintessential qualities.

In the end, the audience was allowed to ask Mr. Shashi questions. Jaipur Women Blog got the chance and asked: How women can contribute to making India a ‘Soft Power’?_MG_6449a At that he replied, “To be frank, I feel shameful of the social initiatives like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Andolan because this shows how badly we treat our girls. We kill the girl child, even if we don’t, we hide her. She is denied school, medical care and food. The only way women can contribute is by displaying their achievements to the society and showing what women are capable of. I personally feel that each one of your stories can bring huge changes.”_MG_6477a

A FLO Jaipur woman asked, “How can India preserve its ‘Soft Power’? Seeing the amount of corruption, I am afraid.” Tharoor replied, “India has the ‘Soft Power’. I didn’t say India should have the ‘Soft Power’. So don’t be afraid! However, to preserve the ‘Soft Power’, we must combine our soft power with hard power. If soft power is a quality, hard power is required to handle this quality. It can be Indian military or anything else.”_MG_6492a

“And how can we control violence in our country using ‘Soft Power’, asked another FLO member. He replied, “You can’t just rely on soft power to control it, but you can spread it wide with your actions to make sure violence is lessened.”_MG_6440a

We’re highly impressed. Shashi Tharoor has always been a hell of a speaker and yesterday was no different. Did you enjoy reading? Tell us in the comments below._MG_6109aPhotographer: Shashank K Tyagi

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