Buddhism, India’s Soft Power Projection Tool


  • A two-day international Buddhist summit was held in India’s capital city of New Delhi (April 20–21), and it was planned by the Ministry of Culture in association with the International Buddhist Confederation.
  •  The Dalai Lama and several prominent members of the world’s Buddhist community attended the summit.
  •  The prime minister, Narendra Modi, emphasised during this summit how the Buddha’s teachings are still relevant in today’s society. The summit provided India with a tremendous opportunity to engage and present itself to the global Buddhist community, enhancing its soft power.


  • One of the most prevalent religions in South and South-Eastern Asian nations is Buddhism.
  • When Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment and began to propagate his teachings, it had its beginnings in India more than 2,600 years ago.
  • It is currently the fourth-largest religion in the world, with over 520 million adherents, or over 7% of the world’s population.
  • Buddhist traditions, beliefs, and spiritual practises are based in great part on the Buddha’s teachings and the ideas that have developed from them.

Points to Ponder:

  • India’s Buddhist Diplomacy Efforts: India has been making investments in its diplomatic efforts related to Buddhism, with a particular emphasis on boosting travel by creating a “Buddhist tourist circuit.” In addition, on his trips to Southeast and East Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a point of visiting Buddhist shrines. India wants to show that it is serious about protecting and advancing Buddhist culture and legacy, as well as fostering closer ties with the world’s Buddhist population, by holding high-profile events.
  • Significance of the Global Buddhist Summit: The two-day summit was held in New Delhi and was organised by the Ministry of Culture in association with the International Buddhist Confederation. It was a significant chance for India to project itself and engage with the Buddhist community around the world, enhancing its soft power. The Dalai Lama and several prominent members of the world’s Buddhist community attended the summit.
  • Importance of Buddhist Diplomacy: Given that Asia is home to about 97% of the world’s Buddhists, Buddhist diplomacy can foster regional cohesiveness. India hopes that by making these efforts, it will further solidify its reputation as a responsible global power dedicated to international peace and stability. To foster greater international understanding and collaboration and to highlight the special role India can play in determining the destiny of the region, India places a strong focus on the connections between cultures and civilizations.
  •  Guiding Principle and the China Factor: India’s attempts to present itself as a superpower dedicated to coexistence rather than hegemony are rooted in its extensive historical and cultural ties to the area. Sanskriti Evam Sabhyata, which translates to “cultural and civilizational links,” is one of the Panchamrit principles, which serve as the present administration’s guiding principles for foreign policy. China is aggressively attempting to exercise control over the selection of the new Dalai Lama, which would be detrimental to India’s ambitions to use Buddhism to project its soft power. India needs to take action to keep its position as a major role in the world’s Buddhist community.
  • Strengthening India’s Buddhist Diplomacy: India should keep advocating Buddhism at the highest levels of government while also planning cultural events to highlight the nation’s long history as a Buddhist nation. Such events could be promoted both inside and outside of India by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). India should also endeavour to improve its connections with significant Buddhist organisations and authorities around the world.
  • Relevance of Buddha’s Teachings Today: India had a great chance during the summit to emphasise the Buddha’s teachings’ ongoing relevance in today’s society. The Delhi summit’s topic, “Responses to Contemporary Challenges: Philosophy to Praxis,” underscores India’s efforts to present a morally-based alternative to contentious global politics. Buddha was the first peace diplomat, thus Indian diplomacy on the international scale can be led by his lessons of harmony and collaboration in these trying times.

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