India has captivated and fascinated the world, it is more a universe than a nation with a deeply-rooted personality, a profound collective soul, all boosted by its dazzling diversity. India has been a reference and a beacon for humanity with its spiritual depth, its ancient philosophies that go back millennia, and its ravishing culture, literature, poetry, music and dance art.
India’s spirituality, art of living and philosophies have a very brilliant ambassador: Yoga, followed by hundreds of millions of people around this earth. Other envoys of India’s Soft Power are Bollywood, music and dance.
No matter how well informed India’s public opinion may be, it can’t even begin to grasp the degree of frenzy and passion that Bollywood movies and music generate in the most distant corners of the world—from the Middle East and the Maghreb, to Europe, Africa, Latin America and even the US. It is said that only the Bollywood stars are the truly global stars.
I agree, they are the ones that will have fans across all continents beyond political, national, ethnic or religious differences. On a different level, India’s traditional commitment with world peace and stability, and its engagement with the development of those countries, that are amongst the poorest in the planet, has become the epicentre of a growingly important South-South cooperation. India is the world’s largest investor in Afghanistan in purely civilian projects.
The relatively new kids on the block are India’s economic giants and business conglomerates that have become major world players. Their business culture is unique, far from Wall Street or European multinationals. India’s most important economic conglomerates are by and large still owned and run by the founding families.
Though many are professionally managed, the founding families are still very much present in the boardrooms and, in some cases, management and operations. What is vital about this is that the philosophy of each group, the raison-d’être, their business ethics, the “why” of the companies, the very reason why they were born, are very present, as the founding principles are upheld and heralded by the founding families.
It is said that a company that forgets its basic foundations, its philosophy and culture, finally loses its soul and goes astray. There is not a single important success story in the last century that has not been loyal to its founding principles. The attachment of Indian conglomerates to their essential culture, philosophy, traditions, ethics and their “why”, is at the heart of their very existence.
Discretion, respect for foreign cultures and customs, their flexibility and adaptability are the keys to this rise and success of these phenomenal new ambassadors of Indian Soft Power, Indian multinationals, that are making their mark not only in world markets but in societies from the wealthy North to the developing South. Some of these world-class players include Tata, with the largest consulting company on earth, Tata Consultancy Services, or their ownership of British icons such as Jaguar and Land Rover; Reliance, with its international footprint in a variety of sectors; Airtel, the world’s third largest cell phone and data operator; Adani, a world leader in Photovoltaic clean energy generation, ports, power transmission and other sectors; Kirloskar in Africa; the growing international influence of Birla; Godrej or Jindal.
The list also incudes India’s mega IT giants such as Infosys or Wipro; undisputed pharma giants such as Sun, Lupin, Dr Reddy’s or Cipla; Hero Motocorp Limited, the world’s largest two-wheeler producer with factories around the globe; Mahindra, with its growing international impression; banks, insurance and so many others.
India’s hospital groups have made state-of-the-art healthcare accessible to the middle-classes. I can only mention a few names, but all of them—many of them unknown to the public—are the newest, most brilliant and effective ambassadors of India’s mighty but gentle Soft Power.