CSP 29 June, 2021
The Center for Soft Power (CSP) is a platform for Indian soft power. We nurture and promote art, culture, heritage and knowledge systems. We aim to appeal to conscious citizens, around the world, as we believe Indian soft power offers solutions to many of the global challenges of the day.
CSP is announcing a call for papers on themes from 14 verticals that represent our soft power. We invite scholars and writers to submit an abstract on any of the below-mentioned topics by September 15th and the final essay by November 1st.
We will be collaborating with partner institutions for promoting this inaugural e-journal on Indian Soft Power. The journal aims to document the diversity and sophistication of Indian culture and traditions which offer solutions for global well-being – physical, mental and spiritual. It is also an attempt to discover the nuances specific to Indian soft power based on her unique history, culture and practices. To know more about our work and writings, visit our magazine Soft Power.
Diversity of Indian Cuisine
India’s millennia-old culinary heritage intertwines food, culture, nature, and wellbeing. The consonance between topography, climatic conditions and agricultural practices have contributed to the diversity of cuisines across the length and breadth of the country. It is time now to create an ecosystem that celebrates, sustains and nurtures these practices.
Indian Cuisine Taking to Global Streets
Indian street food varies widely from region to region, and even from vendor to vendor within regions. There is a homey, comfort factor with Indian food, and it intrigues many people because it’s different from other cuisines. The vast culinary landscape of Indian street food is expanding in a variety of forms, from kathi rolls and dosas to various spicy chaat.
This theme invites articles on the spread of Indian street food in restaurants abroad, and the shift in perceptions from it being ethnic food, to becoming more mainstream.
Latest Food Trends Rooted in Indian Culinary Heritage
Traditional wisdom and the perceived health benefits of fermentation are all fueling a deeper exploration into the rich repertoire of fermented foods in India. Conversations around health, sustainability and farmer welfare that brought millets into consumer focus in the recent past have sparked a similar interest and revival of all things indigenous, from ingredients to flavours. All things Indian- regional cuisines, indigenous ingredients, traditional cookware and stories about food will enjoy great attention.
Medicinal Values in Traditional Indian Cuisine:
Nutrition and taste have gone together in traditional home made Indian cooking for centuries. Food as Medicine has been passed down from generation to generation with herbs, spices, and mixtures of both being used to cure common ailments at home.
Sustainable Nature of Indian Arts and Crafts
Artistic and functional, sustainable and sentimental, the range of India’s handicrafts are probably the most diverse not just from the artisan’s point of view but also by their connection to regional and spatial impulses. India’s cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, has an immense offering to the world. When this is transformed into a product, service or experience, it forms the bedrock of the cultural economy.
Versatility and Diversity of Indian weaves
Every thread in Indian weaves has a story to tell, carrying with it regional tales and the flavour of the space where it was created. It can be stitched, unstitched, coloured, or plain, it reflects the vibrancy of Indian culture. Combining the science of weaving with the art of dyeing, embroidery and patterns, these weaves have travelled far and wide. We invite writers to look at the aesthetic, scientific and community features of Indian weaving.
Aromas, flavours, fragrances of Indian origin
From ancient times, a highly evolved Indic culture has been the source of many practices that promote wellbeing and harmony in individuals, families and societies. From the simple practice of lighting aromatic incense in veneration as part of worship, to the highly evolved systems of yoga and Ayurveda where sandalwood and jasmine fragrances are used extensively, the Indian incense industry dominates the world market.
Indian Contributions to the World of Design
India has contributed to design aesthetics through visual patterns, fabrics, complex architectural ideas, engineering, through both ancient cultural offerings as well as through modern practices. Some of these have drawn artists to India, and some traders and tourists.
Indian Design and Apparel on the Fashion Aisles of the World
Indian designers are making a huge impact in the fashion world through innovations that are sustainable, employ local artisajscand reflect the great regional diversity of India. From Pashmina of Kashmir to Madras Checks young designers are using traditional strengths to great acclaim.
The Intellectual Property of Indian Scientific Heritage:
India has put in all efforts to cancel or withdraw applications to patent traditionally knowledge plays a critical role in their health care, food security, culture, religion, identity, environment, trade and development. Yet, this valuable asset is under threat in many parts of the world.
There are concerns that this knowledge is being used and patented by third parties without the prior informed consent of TK holders and that few, if any, of the derived benefits are shared with the communities in which this knowledge originates and exists.
Indian Grains in the Global Palate
Deemed the next big superfood, not only are these grains tasty, but they are also packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, iron and fibre. While their nutritional credentials are a healthy perk, their earthy flavors and rugged textures have spurred chefs to experiment with these ingredients in earnest. Amaranth, bajra, ragi, kuttu, barley, maize, jowar, are some unique Indian grains.
Indic Knowledge Systems for Sustainable Practices:
Age-old Indian practices are a great treasure of sustainability and it is ingrained in Indian culture. Reviving a few traditional practices from different regions in India can go a long way in ushering in a greener planet.
Indian Writers on the Global Platform
Indian writing in English has become popular in the last few decades. The role of Indian writers in depicting personal tales as well as revisiting stories in history have drawn the attention of global audiences. The Indianisation of English is one of the outcomes in this new space.
Exploring India through Writings of Travellers:
Travel writers can contribute to the city-branding processes of tourist destinations. Literary analysis of travel texts, the growing identity of the travel writer, the discovery of new tourist spots, the revival of old destinations are possible outcomes. Today, travel writers are turning to blogs, books and other photography to showcase the cultural richness of India’s past and present. Essays can focus on differing perspectives, historical accounts, contemporary tales.
Translations and Influence of Indian Literature
The translation of regional works of eminent literary persons have not only helped India interlace with the world but also has also offered a glimpse of its multifaceted brilliance. Its influence is scattered in the works of many foreign authors and has thus helped in the development of world literature. Art and especially theatre, dramatics and dance have taken from the Natyashastra, Indian epics and shastras.
The scientific Temper of Sanskrit Language
In the Maheshwara Sutras, grammarian Panini has arranged the vowels and consonants in a scientific pattern. Furthermore, the grammatical mechanism is firmly established right to the gender, tense, case and number. The language was the medium of exchange of ideas and innovations ranging from medicine, mathematics, metallurgy, politics, economics and more.
Indian Art on the Global Stage
Indian Art has travelled to distant places and so has the inspiration behind the art forms. Artists have come from across the globe to learn Indian performing arts and continue to share their knowledge in their homeland through teaching and performing.
We invite articles on the popularity and prevalence of Indian performing arts in the world and the contributions of artists residing outside India, in making performing arts an important part of our soft power.
Indian Art Education in Universities Abroad
Indian art forms not just have an aesthetic appeal, but also enhance the cognitive faculties of the practitioner. Realising this, art schools from across the world have dedicated departments and teachers specializing in Indian performing arts.
This theme seeks to explore the importance of Indian art education in global universities, the pedagogies and interest in aspiring artists. Besides this, understanding the institutional presence of Indian art forms also creates a metric for assessing India’s cultural outreach.
Learnings from Natyashastra
An ancient treatise on aesthetics and performance, the Natyashastra, speaks in depth about the dance, music, theatre, art appreciation and critiquing and much more. These frameworks are universal and timeless.
This theme seeks to understand the application of Natyashastra in non-Indian performing artforms – its relevance, contribution and practice.
Indian Art Festivals Outside the Country
Festivals – national and international – have been major contributors in bringing cultural awareness and ensuring the participation of diverse communities. They are also contributors to wealth generation, commonly understood as the notion of festival economy. Festivals dedicated to Indian performing art outside the country have gained prominence in recent years. They serve as cultural bridges between India and the world and provide platforms to Indian arts.
This theme invites articles on the importance of Indian art festivals as instruments of cultural diplomacy and enhancing people-to-people relations.
Chanting, Vibrations and Health
The Vedas have more than 20, 000 mantras and each mantra when chanted produces sound vibrations that impact specific neurons of the body. Chanting mantras induces certain sound frequencies that impact our neurons coherently and synergistically.
This is an invitation to explore the divine act of chanting as a tool to healing – of the mind and body.
Jnana, Vedanta and Oneness
Anyone well versed with core Vedantic teachings would appreciate the inescapable connection among all life forms on the planet, and that vision would lead to decisions different from those rooted in selfishness or self-interest. This section will look at the application and approach of Vedanta to healing the world medially and spiritually.
Dhyana, the Path to Peaceful Living
Dhyana is a part of the meditative practices of the entire continuum of Indic traditions among Vedic, Buddhist, Jain etc. which flourished through mutual diffusions and influences among themselves. Based on the words such as dhimahi in the mantras such as the Gayatri mantra it can be concluded that dhyana is as old as the Vedas themselves. We invite scholars and practitioners to explore this tool of non-judgmental observation as a path to peaceful living.
Destination India for Spiritual Seekers
India’s deep mysticism is very attractive and one can soak it in the most …in solitude. A sense of time, of the past and present, merges seamlessly, and for those willing to embrace it, there’s an opportunity to transcend it. There is a quality of energy that visitors say they have never felt anywhere else. A combination of an abiding, ancient culture or the palpable spirituality.
Sports and Indian Fitness Regimens
The one-size-fits all method doesn’t fit well within this diverse nation and every aspect of Indian life is personalised, including fitness regimen. Art and sport have come together to create sports that are identified with specific communities.
Sports Psychology and Yoga
This ancient discipline has become the latest cross-training strategy to prepare athletes’ bodies for the competition while enhancing their performance and reducing the risk of injuries. Relaxation skills, e.g., progressive relaxation, slow controlled and deep abdominal breathing and autogenic training, mastery of all the different attentional styles or types of concentration, bth kinaesthetic and visual imagery, self-motivation, development of pre-computation mental routines are some of the offerings of Yoga for Sports.
Indian-Origin Games in the Global Arena
From Pachisi to Mokshapatnam to Pallanguzhi, traditional Indian games are fun ways to acquire keenness and a perspective in practical matters of daily life. India has made a tremendous mark in the field of sports on the international platform. At the same time, games that originated in India have also found their way outside the country and now there exist various adaptations of the same. Polo, chess, carrom, kabbadi and badminton are some of the games that have originated in India.
Diverse Film Industries and Their Box Office Presence
Indian films are produced in several languages, shot in exotic destinations and caters to a wide audience, both local and global. Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi and Bengali films enjoy considerable global reach, especially in the diaspora communities sharing the same cultural background. The popularity of Indian cinema in the world has contributed to 12% of the total revenue of the Indian film industry.
This paper invites articles on the presence and the popularity of Indian cinema in local languages abroad, as well as its role in taking local cultures to the global screens.
Documentaries, Film Festivals
Films depicting the sociocultural and political realities of India are increasingly gaining viewership in India and abroad, aided by OTT platforms. These documentary films also feature in film festivals organized by cinema associations like Cannes, multilateral groupings like BRICS film festival, or even embassies and cultural missions of countries.
This theme explores the role of film festivals as platforms for Indian documentaries as well as the power of documentaries in building an India-friendly narrative.
India Inspired Global Films
The land of knowledge, creativity and wealth has inspired filmmakers in several ways. Be it a James Bond movie shot in India, the Vedic inspirations of the Matrix and Avatar, or Julia Robert finding her seeking in Eat Pray Love. India has inspired Hollywood in numerous ways.
This paper looks at the influence of Indian wisdom, it’s natural beauty and traditions on the global film industry, and how this can become a tool of furthering soft power.
Wildlife Films and Globe Trotting
India’s geographical span is home to multiple ecosystems that have nurtured diverse wildlife. From the forests in Karnataka to mangroves in Sundarbans, a trip to India’s hinterland is not just an adventure but also a way to connect with nature. This natural heritage has also supported the dreams of many wildlife photographers and filmmakers who have captured Indian stories in their cameras and taken them to the world.
This theme invites articles on India as a destination for wildlife photographers and travellers. It seeks to explore India’s natural diversity and what it can offer the world.
The potential of wellness systems, developed through centuries of wisdom of this ancient civilization should be fully tapped. This is being done by positioning India as a centre of Ayurveda, Yoga, Sidha, Naturopathy, etc. together with the spiritual philosophy that has been integral to the Indian way of life.
India’s cuisine is greatest in her alleys and streets, where culture is alive and tasty. Food is local, seasonal and sustainable. Cooked for every occasion, the food is made for feeding the hungry as well as the curious looking for an adventure. From temple towns to charming shopping centres, the food, beverages and the snacks to be had are aplenty.
This is an invitation to explore if they have changed, been disturbed by modernisation and the pandemic, or are they too rooted to be influenced by the occasional disruption.
From the grandeur of the Chola and Pallava temples of South India, to the beauty of the mountain shrines of North India, yatras are a great draw for tourists – both spiritual and cultural. How can India position itself better by creating local amenities and facilities during peak visiting periods.
From the float of crocodiles at Sunderban National Park to the home of snow leopards at Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, from the majestic Manas Wildlife Sanctuary to the Keoladeo National Park and Kaziranga National Park, India humbly possess the most diverse heritage in the world. This is an invitation to explore aspects of this rich natural heritage.
Global Presence of Classical Yoga and Ayurveda:
Ayurveda is globally acclaimed for its preventive healthcare properties and treatment of many chronic lifestyle disorders. Different countries have adopted it as either supplementary, complementary or alternative to the mainstream healthcare system. How can Ayurveda’s principles of prevention of disease influence other systems?
Swasthya and the Definition of Health Today
There is a need for a clinically useful definition of health. Restoring health after the disease is a concern of all forms of medicine. Defining health based on atoms and molecular particles is useful but not adequate. Ayurveda offers some suggestions on looking at an overarching perspective, including the tridoshas.
Asanas and their Connect to Indian Ethos
Indian rishis were keen observers and psychologists. Animals are able to physically release excessive, negative energy immediately and instantly through various postures. The allusion to Indian scriptures and epics also point to the early Indian origins and roots of Yoga.
Yoga, Ayurveda and the Circadian Rhythm
Changes in the environment are evident as the day progresses and with the change of season. How these changes affect (pacify or ignite) our dosha, and how it leads to internal imbalance, which leads to disorder and disease can help explain modern health problems.