By Jerry Edling
LOS ANGELES – India has been described as a land of contradictions, a place that assaults the senses with all the colorful vehemence of a Bollywood dance. The world’s largest democracy is a collage of brilliant hues and stark contrast, which makes it all the more ironic that India’s image as a world player is somewhat hazy and its public diplomacy is still a bit unformed. Philip Seib of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, in a blog published in December of 2010, wrote,
“In many respects, this exotic, chaotic country remains geopolitically undefined. … More and more, India is a significant player in world affairs, and yet it lacks a consistent profile that it can present to the rest of the world.”
Perhaps the problem is that while India has made great strides in defining its character and image, it has yet to define its role as a player in the world. That’s a subtle but important distinction. The central question is not what India is but what it can become.