ISRO soft power

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India has projected its soft power for centuries, long before the concept was even defined by political analysts. In the past decade, the country wielded its soft power in a more systematic way in the practice of diplomacy. ISRO has given a new dimension to Indian ‘Soft Power.’ World is watchin how India is helping its neighbours by giving assistance in space field, for example, SAARC satellite. This article will give you a brief description about it.

What is a hard power?

A country that exercises its power, influence, and voercion through the use of military might and economy and clout as a muscle to manipulate itself towards the people can be called as hard power.

What is a soft power?

Soft power is a concept developed by Joseph Nye of Harvard University to describe the ability to attract and co-opt rather than by coercion (hard power), using force or giving money as a means of persuasion. Soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of soft power is that it is noncoercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies. Recently, the term has also been used in changing and influencing social and public opinion through relatively less transparent channels and lobbying through powerful political and non-political organizations.

India becoming a hard power through use of military might, coercion and manipulating public opinion has some inherent limitations

  1. Very high Expenditure
  2. Diplomatic manipulations are understood
  3. Being in centre of conflict generator weans people away and then requires resolution
  4. Soviet experience to be a hard power not very productive
  5. Forced application of country’s influence doesn’t change people and mindset
  6. It  is very difficult to catch up with the developed west in the hard power arena.
  7. Can actually drive people away

Soft Power in Space

  1. India has a robust space programme and has made some significant progress in this field. A case in point is the recent finding of water on the surface on the moon by Chandrayan 1, which has helped the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to demonstrate the country’s leadership in the field of science and technology.
  2. ISRO could even send a human being to the moon within a few years. What is equally important is for India to use the space programme as a tool for increasing its international influence. This is where India can take a leaf out of the Chinese book.
  3. India is already working with a few international partners like NASA, but such partnerships are more from the point of view of technology collaboration. Such collaborations are a must in fields like going to the Moon and Mars. But at the same time there is a need to engage other countries who are novices in this field.
  4. Today, there are many countries in the world who wish to collaborate with India in the space arena. India should engage with these countries in their space projects at various levels. Indirectly, this could offer India a form of ‘security’ that is beyond tanks, fighter jets and nuclear deterrence. It would help India increase its influence over other states through non-military means.
  5. This is what “Soft-Power” is all about.(described above)
  6. India’s success in space is attracting others to emulate it. This is an opportunity that India should not waste.
  7. And this opportunity goes much beyond India’s existing commercial space policy.



Q.) “India’s choice should be more on becoming a soft power rather than a hard power.” Analyse this statement in the light of relative advantages India enjoys in Science and Technology, especially in Space Technology and suggest ways of leveraging that advantage.

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