ICCR to build ambassador programme among foreign students in India

Context: By drawing on the experiences of foreign students who are currently studying here, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) aims to increase the country’s artistic and creative influence throughout the world. 

More about news

  • The council expects that more than 48,000 foreign students who are now enrolled in Indian Universities will work as brand ambassadors for India’s culture, history, tourist destinations, textiles, yoga, ayurveda, and handicrafts.
  • The ICCR will launch E3, or exit engagement nights: With foreign students starting three to four months before they complete their coursework. 
  • Visits to national monuments are part of the engagements. As students return to their home countries, this “soft diplomacy” is supposed to help spread the word about India.
  • The Indian Tourist Development Corporation, the Khadi Commission, and the Department of Ayush have been chosen by the ICCR to host these evenings. 
  • Aim: In addition to retaining their ties to India, the aim is that they bring some business back to India.
  • India Alumni Portal, 2022: To communicate with the international students from all around the world who have studied in India. 


  • Founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister of independent India. 
  • It is an autonomous organisation that comes under the Ministry of Culture.
  • The council’s headquarters are in New Delhi, and it also operates through worldwide missions. 


  • To facilitate its operations, the Council may establish sections at its headquarters, regional offices in different parts of India, and cultural centres and offices overseas. 
  • The Council shall be a corporate body, shall have a permanent seal, and may be sued in its corporate name. 


  • Fostering and strengthening cultural ties and mutual understanding between India and other countries; 
  • Promoting cultural exchange with other countries and peoples;
  • Developing relationships with national and international organisations in the field of culture;
  • Taking part in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes relating to India’s external cultural relations.


  • The council administers several scholarship initiatives each year and provides scholarships to international students from over 180 different nations under 21 distinct programmes. 
  • Six of these 21 programmes are supported by ICCR through its funding, while the remaining 19 are managed on their behalf by the Ministries of External Affairs and Ministry of Ayush. 
  • As part of its efforts to promote “Digital India,” ICCR created the “Admissions to Alumni (A2A) Portal” to simplify the application process. The portal includes names of Indian universities as well as any pertinent information on scholarship programmes. 
  • With a wide range of initiatives, the Council carries out its role of cultural diplomacy. The ICCR promotes individual artists in the performing arts and the visual arts in addition to organising cultural festivals both domestically and abroad. It also provides financial support to a number of cultural organisations in India.


Soft Diplomacy/ Soft Power

  • The phrase “soft power” was first used by Joseph Nye. The ability to influence other countries by persuasion and appeal rather than coercion or force is known as soft power. Education diplomacy, science diplomacy, public diplomacy, and digital diplomacy are a few of the diplomatic strategies used to develop soft power.
  • Indian example: India has been utilising yoga diplomacy as a strategy for cross-cultural dialogue and global collaboration.  Its centrepiece event is International Yoga Day (June 21 since 2015). It has been celebrated across the world annually on June 21 since 2015, following its inception in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014.

Difference between hard and soft power:

  • Hard power is the tactic of influencing another state’s behaviour by coercion, military force, or economic force.
  • The use of culture, values, and ideas to influence the preferences of others is known as “soft power. 
  • By instilling a desire for the aims of the power holder, soft power tries to exert indirect  influence, whereas hard power uses coercion to accomplish its goals.

Several examples in which soft power tools are utilised in global politics and international 


1.E-diplomacy It involves influencing public opinion and intercultural dialogue through the use of websites, blogs, and social media. Social media’s significance during the Arab Spring encouraged the use of Twitter and Facebook diplomacy. 

2.Cultural diplomacy Developing relationships with other groups and promoting understanding of a nation’s values and culture. Festival and exhibition planning, artist exchanges, and financial assistance for artistic endeavours are examples of cultural diplomacy. 

3.Public Diplomacy

Public diplomacy is used to build relationships with individuals around the globe and project a positive image.  It is a key component of soft power. Countries strengthen ties, advance their foreign policy goals, and boost their influence in the world through public diplomacy.

4.Sports diplomacy

Soft power is increasingly including sports diplomacy as a key component. 

The FIFA World Cup and other events that Qatar has hosted have enhanced its reputation. 

Countries make a lot of lobbying efforts to host sporting events like the Olympics, World Cup,  because of the importance of these events for soft power. 

5.Economic diplomacy

The “Marshall Plan” was employed to build the European Union’s economy after World War II. It also influenced the interests of society and culture in Europe. Another example of something that impacts more than just infrastructure and economic development is China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

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