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20 Jul 2017

Soft power rankings: France is number one! India misses out

US, the reigning soft power king of the world for many years, has lost the spot to France according to new soft power rankings.

While India does not even figure in the top 30, its so-called competitor China does!

A term first coined by American scholar Joseph Nye, soft power emphasizes the use of persuasion in a country's foreign policy using culture and values.

In context

Where do world powers stand on soft power?
What is soft power?


What is soft power?

In his book, 'Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power', Nye writes, "when one country gets other countries to want what it wants-might be called co-optive or soft power in contrast with the hard or command power of ordering others".

It refers to a country's ability to shape preferences around the world through 'appeal and attraction' to its culture, values etc.

The 'Soft Power 30' rankings

30 countries were ranked in the report prepared by Portland Communications. While UK is ranked 2, Germany is 4th followed by Canada, Japan, and Switzerland. China is ranked 25th and Brazil and Turkey at 29th and 30th respectively.

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The Trump factor

US displaced from top spot

The Report points to Donald Trump's election as a factor that led to US slipping from its top position.

While his 'America First Policy' was not received well by its allies and purportedly damaged its reputation, the Muslim immigration ban further tarnished US image.

The authors further note that "the rise of Trump could be viewed as a threat to American soft power".

Macron's charm (?)

The rise of France

The rise of Macron has in a way catapulted France to the the number one place, while pushing the US down to number 3.

According to the authors, Macron's pro-EU, pro-business reforms may yield a "more dynamic and energized France that will take on a global leadership role".

Well-known French culture, cuisine and massive diplomatic outreach further seem to have helped France's ascension.


Why does India rank low?

Although India has a number of soft power assets including Bollywood, cuisine and religion, it has seemingly not focused on using them to its advantage.

This is despite PM Modi's mass outreach efforts in many countries.

According to the authors, although India leads in entertainment exports and its cuisine is highly popular, India suffers from widespread poverty and poor infrastructure, which make it unattractive.

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