The Diplomat, November 25, 2014
Sadhavi Chauhan, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies
Since the election of Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister, New Delhi has appeared determined to create “Brand India” by harnessing its soft power resources. This was very much on display at the meeting Modi had with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung, during the latter’s visit to New Delhi late last month.
The two leaders used the occasion to sign seven agreements. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of media coverage was directed at hard-nosed issues like the South China Sea, defense and security, energy cooperation, and trade. Unquestionably, these factors are playing a crucial role in Indo-Vietnamese ties. But no fewer than five of the seven deals focused on aspects of soft power, like religion, education, media interaction, and cultural cooperation. This is important evidence that New Delhi is exploiting its soft resources to enhance ties with its southeastern neighbor.