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Of images and perceptions :Pavan K. Varma

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What constitutes the image of a country? This is a particularly complex question for a country like India which is not only a young Republic but also an ancient civilisation. To my mind, India’s image, for the outside gaze, rests on several factors: the fact that it is the world’s largest functioning democracy; it is an ancient land, with a culture that is marked by antiquity, diversity, assimilation, continuity and peaks of unparalleled refinement; it is a country which has consciously chosen the path of respect for plurality; it is a nation which believes in religious tolerance, as is only befitting a land where four of the world’s great religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism — were born, and which also has the second largest number of Muslims on the planet; it is a country which has the potential to emerge as a “super power”, with a great deal of economic promise, including the incentive of a very large market, notwithstanding the fact that it still has too many of the abjectly poor, the malnourished and the illiterate; and, finally, that it is a country that is essentially liberal in its outlook, with space for dissent and debate, and, therefore, unrelentingly opposed to the monolithic fundamentalisms that are sweeping across large parts of the world.
Report on religious freedoms

The image of a country is thus a holistic construct. Many deep-rooted pillars underpin it, while on the surface several banners flutter perennially: Bollywood, yoga, the Taj Mahal, Ravi Shankar and chicken tikka. The big mistake is to believe that a single desirable factor, such as a “stable” government, or a period of high economic growth rate, or an effective machinery of propaganda and projection, are sufficient to give a country an “attractive” image. Hard power, soft power, a certain value system, and an unmistakable civilisational “mystique” must combine in the right proportions to give to a country like India the right image globally.


The image of a country is not only about the size of its economy, or its future potential for economic growth. It is a complex compound of many interrelated perceptions, each important unto itself. In the case of India, the liberal and secular nature of our democracy is a fundamental part of our image. If this image is tarnished, there will be a spillover into other areas of bilateral and multilateral interaction. The world is watching India, and India must, therefore, watch itself.

JD(U) MP Pavan K. Varma writes about of images and perceptions - The Hindu
When I think of India the image that comes to my mind is Shah Rukh Khan and the Film Industry.

Those who are staying outside of India relate to it mostly thru the film industry.
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