Academic journal article Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences

India-South Africa: A Soft Power Perspective

Academic journal article Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences

India-South Africa: A Soft Power Perspective

Article excerpt

In the present global scenario India--South Africa relations have gained much more importance and attention. This bilateral relationship is not merely fulfilling for both the parties as such but has significant regional and global implications. The affinity that both the countries have developed for each other is rooted in the commonality of cultural practices and processes. India and South Africa have a relationship that can be traced back to the ancient times. But for the purpose of the occasion the paper will confine to contemporary issues only. The deep and diversified relations between India and South Africa are shaped by a number of factors. Few popular milestones are the role of M.K. Gandhi's contribution in fighting against racial discrimination in South Africa, India's efforts towards promoting Asian-African unity, India's support and role in fight against apartheid, and contribution of large Indian community in the prosperity of South Africa. Both India and South Africa are the emerging developing nations in their respective regions and the common ground held by both on various regional and international issues such as support for reforms of United Nations' Security Council and other global institutions: commitment for climate change; for non-discriminatory international trade practices and so on are encouraging enough. Both nations have developed close political, strategic, cultural and economic ties since the end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994.

Dr. A.L. Basham, in his authoritative 'Cultural History of India', has noted that 'While there are four main cradles of civilization which, moving from East to West, are China, India, the Fertile Crescent and the Mediterranean, specially Greece and Italy, India deserves a larger share of credit because she has deeply affected the religious life of most of Asia. She has also extended her influence, directly and indirectly, to other parts of the World' (Mukherjee, 2015). Today, The South African Indian Origin community numbers around 1.5 million and constitutes about 3 per cent of South Africa's total population. There is longstanding Indian cultural impact in the African region. India enjoys tremendous soft power advantage in South Africa; it is this which would elevate India-South Africa relations to newer heights. In comparison to China, India scores better in terms of goodwill and Image it generates through its Capacity Building Programmes, agenda free approach and democratic values. A number of bilateral agreements have been concluded between the two countries in diverse areas ranging from economic and commercial cooperation, defence, culture, health, education, ICT, human settlements, science and technology etc. Both nations share the membership of several multilateral groupings like IBSA, BRICS, BASIC, IORARC and G-20 and working together to formulate strategies on the issues affecting developing nations. In many respects, India and South Africa share a common vision on a range of global issues and domestic challenges. South African President Jacob Zuma has described the relations between the two countries as being based on, 'Very deep historical, cultural, economic, family, and political ties between our two countries and two peoples. India and South Africa are the most powerful emerging economies of Asia and Africa. It is hoped that as a powerful economy and democratic system, both nations could play an instrumental role in shaping the political, economic and strategic agenda of the 21st Century'.

In the contemporary multipolar world, the role of soft power has acquired increased importance to advance and strengthen the foreign policies of nations. The creation of a positive image is becoming an integral part of a country's foreign policy. In the present global scenario, soft power is a vital weapon to enhance the role and image of countries. Soft power is a staple of daily democratic politics. As stated by Joseph Nye who first coined this term, that 'Soft power is the ability to effect others to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction rather than coercion or payment. …

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