Using yoga and Bollywood to woo the world | india | Hindustan Times
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Using yoga and Bollywood to woo the world

In the next two years, at least 15 new Indian cultural centres will be set up across the globe. And the ‘new India’s’ cultural ambassadors are not its classical arts or folk traditions, but yoga and Bollywood. Namita Kohli reports.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2009 01:04 IST
Namita Kohli

It is arguably one of India’s biggest exercises in wielding its “soft power” on the global platform.

In the next two years, at least 15 new Indian cultural centres will be set up across the globe — from Dhaka to Tanzania, and Paris to Lagos.

And the ‘new India’s’ cultural ambassadors are not its classical arts or folk traditions, but yoga and Bollywood.

“Yoga has become so popular that we’ve been getting requests for a yoga teacher from not just the existing 21 centres, but also from wherever we’re setting up a new centre,” said Virendra Gupta, director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) that is setting up the cultural centres on a Rs 75-crore grant in the next two years.

Starting with the centres in Bangkok and Tokyo, the ICCR has several more in the pipeline: in Bhutan, Budapest and Prague.

“There’s great curiosity about India in the world,” said Gupta. “It’s time to exhibit our cultural prowess.”
And for all this, Bollywood’s popularity is coming in handy.

“Bollywood films are so popular that at times even we’ve to piggyback on their success to sell Indian culture,” said Gupta, currently organising the ‘Year of India in Russia’. “The demand is huge. In China, where we’ll host a ‘Festival of India’ next year, they’re only interested in the modern and the contemporary — the young India. Indian films are in demand now over there as well. All over the world, there’s also a huge demand for memorabilia and old film posters.”