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Role of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR ) in building Soft-power And Cultural Diplomacy

Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya - means from darkness, lead me to light - Upanishads

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, independent India's first Education Minister. Its objectives are to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes pertaining to India's external cultural relations; to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries; to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people, and to develop relations with nations.

India, from ancient times has been a center of higher learning as it is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Historically, Universities and libraries were a big part of Indus-Valley Civilization. The two famous ancient universities of India and the oldest universities in the world are Takshashila (Taxila)and Nalanda. Nalanda was established in the fifth century AD in Bihar, India and survived until circa 1200 AD. It was devoted to Buddhist studies, but it also trained students in fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war. Ancient Taxila or Takshashila, in ancient Gandhara, was an early Hindu and Buddhist centre of learning.

According to scattered references that were only fixed a millennium later, it may have dated back to at least the fifth century BC. Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the sixth century BC. Vikramashila was one of the two most important centres of learning in India during the Pala Empire, along with Nalanda. Vikramashila was established by King Dharmapala (783 to 820) in response to a supposed decline in the quality of scholarship at Nalanda. Atisha, the renowned pandita, is sometimes listed as a notable abbot. It was destroyed by the forces of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji around 1200.

India, the fabled land of seers, sages, spiritual leaders and healers has been a beacon of light for the West for centuries. It is known for its tremendous cultural power that has maintained a deep impact on the world for thousands of years. The richness of India's culture is manifest in a myriad traditions, languages, faiths and rituals that lend it both wealth and depth. People of this revered land exude a sense of vitality and positive energy that conveys the essence of life. Though the west has cast its influence through colonial rule, the people of India still hold on to their rich culture and heritage which is a thing to be marveled at.

The representation of national ethos underlying the educational policy commenced by a visionary who was ahead of his time, all great visionaries see what is unseen, this one was spearheaded by Abul Kalam Azad who left a mark of his undying soft-power legacy, to present the right opportunities to all who seek glory in scholasticism. Facilitating with vocations to all those of intellectual merit and departing from class privilege or social distinction. The stream of opportunities reaches out to all who come with strong determination and commitment to imbibe this rich legacy to his country in return. The ICCR scholarship provided me an opportunity to make the best use of it, for one with ambition the sky's the limit.
 
So, ICCR stands, on behalf rich culture of India, in admiration for our achievements, in gratitude and solidarity for our future. In the timeless Buddhist preaching and Non-violence philosophy of Mahatama Gandhi in Indian culture and art, in language and literature, food and festivals, we see the imprint of Indian timeless relations.

The ICCR has its values, ethics and established principles in deciding the choice of students eligible for such memento, I am proud to say that I have made the righteous use of this invaluable chance to acknowledge the gift of giving, this is certainly an act of auspicious enfranchisement, it certainly ranks among the lines the Full-bright(USA), Chevening (UK) and DAAD (Germany) Scholarships acumen.

Yoga is a way to learn and understand the spiritual India. Also, yoga is associated with the culture and heritage of India. In Sanskrit, yoga means ‘to unite' and describes a way to live a healthy life. Many people from India and foreigners are resorting to yoga and meditation to de-stress and rejuvenate their mind.

Currently, India is taking effective steps in order to spread this concept of Unity through Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi, India's leaders have often evoked the phrase Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family), taken from the Maha Upanishad, to elucidate the country's global outlook. While the term has become a mantra of India's diplomatic lexicon.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam has become a catch-all notion for India's diplomatic orthodoxy to be deployed in numerous scenarios. Although it might be open to myriad interpretations, it has been used to broadly convey India's ideal and liberal concept of global norms, themes of globalization, or global commons. In doing so, it suggests that this is an ideal world worth achieving and it can be created through negotiations alone.

Artists have traveled abroad from every corner of India during the past six decades. The ICCR has sent thousands of cultural troupes across the globe, apart from organizing Cultural Weeks and Festivals dedicated to a specific country or region. On average, more than 160 groups have been traveling abroad in the last few years. The Council prides in having sent great masters, living legends as well as young and promising artists. This is a great way to showcase India's enduring and vibrant culture and its incredible diversity.

The international effects of Indian education and culture are time immemorial and trace back to antiquity. It has more feasible from understanding what soft-power means, a term coined by Harvard academic Joseph Knight quotes, “the ability to attract or gravitate nations towards it because of its cultural, political values. a policy crafted by minds through toils of education and learning its partly due to the never-ending efforts of the government.

The tedious transformation of education is the new face of open diplomacy and art of foreign policy to influence others. What is vital in this information era, it is not the nation with a superior army or that possess true power; India has come a long way from being a land of sages & Sadhus to a strategic landmark of mathematical geniuses and tech wizards, you would love to hear the story how it all got started, since India has 75% of the potential human resources being the nuts & bolts of the largest Research & Development melting pots in the world NASA & Google we have an Indian CEO Sathya Nadella, etc. Indians usually are understood as physically poor but psychologically rich.

The story rests on the common platform of democratic & political pluralism. India was a refuge for the Jews since the destruction of Babylonian temples, to the Tibetans under the leadership of Dalai Lama Indian Dharamshala's are a sanctuary against the hostile Chinese occupation. When the war is against love and freedom of life, India stood as a beacon of peace for all the lost ones on stormy waters or stony shores and natural destinations for the most refuged neighbours. The foreign policy cemented Ashoka's defensive warfare to defend before attack , to preserve this kingdom of God on earth.

With the greatest voting populace & the largest democratic franchise in the entire human history on the face of the earth, India stands as a model to its neighbouring states to pursue a hard path of legal and democratic way of life, the choice of making right is often the hardest one.

Indian nationalism is an idea of the oldest of civilization united with a variety of cultures and practices. The great success story of India is in a country where so many learned wise men valued their lives in the powerful pursuit of knowledge. If there is anything worth celebrating about India it is not the military muscle or economic power, although all that is necessary, there is something more to it in overcoming the pestilence of poverty, and national concerns the generational wealth is in its store of knowledge, its ideals not materialistic but ventures in the whole ability to innovate, and multiply in vast directions on its quest for wisdom. The challenges it has overcome in a rich & diverse society, determined to liberate & fulfil, proliferate the creative energies of all the nations that seek its favor.

It is the fastest growing economy in the world. By 2030, India will become the third largest economy, surpassing China and the USA, with projected GDP at $30 Trillion. Our land boasts of having close to one lakh fifty five thousand six hundred post offices across the country and this is by far the largest postal network in the world. Not to mention that India is the 19th largest exporter and the 10th largest importer in the world.

The highlight in the recent past, India's first successful Mars Orbiter Mission - Mangalyaan, completed a 400-million km long journey to Mars, thereby becoming the first Asian country and fourth in the world to undertake a mission to the red planet.

Currently the following schemes are available:
General Scholarship Scheme – ICCR - The GSS is one of the important scholarship schemes of ICCR for Foreign Students which is awarded at the level of undergraduate/postgraduate levels and for pursuing research to foreign students belonging to Asian and Latin American Countries. Apart from this initiatives for the following specific categories have been taken up bythe ICCRBangladesh Scholarship Scheme – ICCR , Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme – ICCR, Nehru Memorial Scholarship Scheme – ICCR, CEP/EEP Scholarship Scheme – ICCR.
 
The government of India, under the Ministry of External affairs has the following policies under its banner:
Silver Jublee Scholarship Scheme – MEA, AYUSH Scholarship Scheme for BIMSTEC Countries – MEA, Aid-to-Maldives Scholarship Scheme – MEA, Mekong Ganga Co-operation Scholarship Scheme – MEA, Afghan Scholarship Scheme – MEA, Africa Scholarship Scheme – MEA, Aid-to-Mongolia Scholarship Scheme – MEA, Nehru Memorial Scholarship Scheme – MEA, Maulana Azad Scholarship Scheme – MEA, Rajiv Gandhi Scholarship Scheme – MEA, India Scholarship (Bangladesh) Scheme – MEA, Aid-to-Bhutan Scholarship Scheme – MEA, AYUSH Scholarship Scheme for Non-BIMSTEC Countries, AYUSH Scholarship Scheme for Malaysian Nationals, AYUSH Scholarship Scheme for South East Asian Region (SEAR) Countries, Scholarship Scheme for Children/Dependents of Afghan Nationals Defence & Security Forces – MEA, Scholarship to Wards of Border Guard Bangladesh – MEA, Major Festivals where ICCR participates include Cervantino Festival, Janadriyah – the annual National Heritage and Cultural Festival, Golden Jubilee of Indo-Bhutan Diplomatic Relations and Celebrations of 70 Years of India-Nepal Diplomatic Ties. ICCR proposes to sponsor many cultural groups in the coming months for participation in some important events like “Glimpses of India Festival” (Egypt), “SEA Festival” (Cambodia), “Tiranga Festival” (Senegal) on the occasion of Republic Day & Holi Utsav celebrations.

The primary mandate of the Council is to create international understanding through culture. To meet this objective, the Council showcases quality performing artiste/groups in countries across the world so that the people get to see and understand the diversity and the vibrancy of India's performing art forms like classical, folk, theater, modern dance and music etc. These groups are sent within the ambit of India's Cultural Exchange Programme with different countries as well as outside it.

India has been working in order to make this concept of Unity as well as share the Knowledge of Spirituality with the world, which India considers to be its family. One such instance is when the Indian Embassy in Kabul celebrated the Yoga Day. The Indian ambassador to Kabul described yoga as being a method to bring a person a sense of peace and inner calm.

Since India has such a rich heritage to uphold the ICCR is working to its fullest extent in order to facilitate the and improve foreign relations in terms of education.India, the fabled land of seers, sages, spiritual leaders and healers has been a beacon of light for the West for centuries. It is known for its tremendous cultural power that has maintained a deep impact on the world for thousands of years.

The richness of India's culture is manifest in a myriad traditions, languages, faiths and rituals that lend it both wealth and depth. People of this revered land exude a sense of vitality and positive energy that conveys the essence of life. Though the west has cast its influence through colonial rule, the people of India still hold on to their rich culture and heritage which is a thing to be marveled at.

Written By: Sayed Qudrat Hashimy,
[email protected], Mobile no. +91 900881 33 33

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