The Possibilities and Limits of India's New Religious Soft Power

Author: Sumit Ganguly

July 14, 2020

In this policy brief, Sumit Ganguly argues that despite the Modi administration’s fervid attempts to draw on some of India’s religious traditions to boost the country's standing with prospective partners, it is unclear whether this strategy has yielded significant, tangible benefits. It may have had a marginal positive impact on relations that were already on the upswing (for example with Japan), but it has had no discernible effect on relations with Sri Lanka or Israel. As the government marginalizes its largest religious minority, Muslims, it is hard to see how highlighting selective aspects of India’s religious heritage will acquire traction in its dealings with a range of countries.

This policy brief was written as part of the Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power project, a partnership between Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the Brookings Institution supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

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