October 26, 2010BuddhismEast AsiaForeign AffairsHinduismhistoryinternational relationsIslamliberal nationalismPax IndicaPublic PolicyRealismrealpolitiksecularismVietnam

Pax Indica: Use religion in foreign policy

The missing ingredient in India’s soft power

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

We have allowed,” today’s Pax Indica contends our misunderstanding of secularism to keep religion out of the foreign policy toolkit.”


No one bats an eyelid when someone argues that we should use democracy, free-market capitalism, socialism or South-South solidarity” to promote India’s interests abroad. But mention religion and all sorts of people jump at you. The first objection you hear is that it’s against our secular values”. This is absurd, as I’ve just argued, because secularism applies only to India’s internal affairs.

It is unacceptable for a country with one of the world’s largest Muslim populations, one with the longest experience of practising the Islamic faith in a multi-religious society to have no voice at all in one of the most important geopolitical dynamics of our time. India’s lack of Islamic soft power is a symptom of its, well, secular rejection of religious soft power. If we are serious about being a major global power, if soft power is to be something more than a feel-good story, and indeed for our own survival and security, we must dispassionately begin to make strategic use of our religion and culture. [Read the rest at Yahoo! India]

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