Cultural and intellectual interaction has been a bedrock of soft diplomacy for creating robust bilateral relationship among various countries.

In the absence of formal government bilateral talks, cultural and intellectual interaction helps in improving bilateral relations. Diplomatically, there can be ups & downs and at those times cultural and intellectual traditions come to our rescue.

 

  • Music, Dance, film industries often helps in strengthening bonding. Bollywood films are being watched everywhere.
  • Student exchange programmes helps not only in intellectual development but also improves bilateral relations.
  • India hosted BODHIPARV (BIMSTEC festival of Buddhist heritage). It shows how shared cultural paves way for bilateral or multilateral engagements

 

CHALLENGES:

 

  • Ideological conflict affects these interaction e.g. capitalism and communism country have difficulty in maintaining these interaction.
  • Sometimes due to rising conflicts, these cultural and intellectual interactions are also halted. For example, Ban on Pakistani actors and singers in India.
  • Often countries undermine the importance of soft diplomacy through provocative acts. Example- Case of kulbhushan Jadhav, India’s boycott of SAARC summit etc.
  • India’s conflict with Bangladesh on illegal refugees, smuggling creates hurdle for such interactions. It has also been witnessed that countries can even present the history differently in order to partition the common cultural and intellectual tradition.
  • Low political will- Political leaders to further their personal interests often avoid such interaction.
  • Terrorism is further widening the distrust. With India blaming Pakistan and vice versa, the power of shared culture is diminishing.

 

Suggestions:

 

  • Soft Power- The cultural interaction like pilgrimage, heritage tourism and temple visits by tourist not only evoke a sense of admiration, interest and soft corner to India but also underscores the core value of India.
  • People to people contact- The greater is the people to people contact & interaction, the more healthier does the relation of two countries deepen and flourish.
  • Allay the fear of Big Brother Syndrome- The small neighbouring countries of India perceive India as threat to their sovereignty to some extent at times. The cultural interactions can help improve the bilateral relations.
  • Exchange of talent- The intellectual interactions provide a healthy platform for artists an

 

There is no doubt that cultural and intellectual interactions play vital role in strengthening relations. However, challenges mentioned above often disturbs this interaction. Instead of fighting on conflicting interests, it would be better to work collectively on issues like terrorism, climate change, energy security etc which can even help in resolving the conflicts.

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