Seminar on Emerging Trends of Diplomacy in
Nepal: Issues of Soft Power
Organized by Department of Conflict, Peace
and Development Studies (DCPDS), Tribhuwan University in Association
with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal
14 November, Kathmandu
Department of Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, DCPDS in
association with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a day
seminar on Emerging Trends of Diplomacy in Nepal: Issues of Soft
Power' on 14 November, 2014 at Hotel Indreni Himalaya, Kathmandu.
The program was divided into five sessions: inaugural Session
and other four technical sessions.
Inaugural session was chaired by the Prof. Dr. Hem Raj Subedi,
coordinator at Department of Conflict, Peace and Development
Studies. Inaugurating this program Prof. Dr. Hira Bahadur Maharjan,
Vice Chancellor at Tribhuwan University said that the discourse
of soft, hard and smart power is very useful and very timely
to discuss in present context.
Delivering speech as special guest Prof. Gunanidhi Neupane,
Rector at Tribhuwan University highlighted the role of power
dynamics in global context and Nepal. Chandra Dev Bhatta, representative
from FES Nepal, highlighted emergence of soft, hard and smart
power in global politics and international relations.
He also emphasized the inherent values of religion and culture
as a source of power, which should be prioritized in expansion
of soft power. Showing great importance of culture, religion
and values, which has been holding our nation unified for such
a long period of time.
He emphasized three junctures and events:
a) Darwin's contribution in "Origin of Species"
b) Idea of the nations as propounded by Thomas Hobbes in Social
c) Marxist notion of the society with reference to the soft
Closing the inaugural session, Prof Subedi said some of the
resources which Nepal can mobilize in form of soft power could
be Nepali Diaspora, Nepali culture, arts and religion, tourism
products, herbs and natural resources as well as sports.
Technical Session I
Technical session I was chaired by the Prof Dr. Soorya Lal
Amatya, former rector at Tribhuwan University.Dr. Deepak Prakash
Bhatt, a security expert and faculty at Department of Conflict,
Peace and Development Studies (DCPDS) made presentation on "Changing
Power Dynamics in Nepal: Soft Power". The paper was divided
into five main parts; dynamics of power, wants, hard power,
soft power and means of power. Through the presentation, Bhatta
emphasized various means and techniques of accumulating soft
power, hard power and smart power in the global discourse in
general and providing with example of US, China, India and Nepal
Power and security relations are fundamental and complex in
global politics and basic values of each society also called
an integral part of source of power, Bhatta added. He emphasized
that the means of soft power could be music, sports or influential
individual but the source of soft power is ' economic perspective
of the country. Economic engagement is an important aspect of
power in national and global perspective. He argued that, smart
power as the combination of hard power and soft power.
He said that the nation-state can't function in isolation.
Providing examples such as: foundation of power for United States
is its strategy of national cohesion, culture, ideology and
international institution. In the case of China, education,
culture, language, investment, good neighbor and trade are basic
components. And in case of India, Translating its political
and economic potential into reality is one of the main strategies
of Indian soft power.
In changing global scenario, neither army nor economy is sufficient
condition to make robust country, was the argument presented
in Bhatta's paper. Furthermore, he stressed that security forces
and Nepal Army are contributing in Peacekeeping as top five
military contributing country, which is one of the best way
to expand Nepalese soft power in globe.
Commenting on Dr. Bhatta's paper, Dr. Khadga K.C., coordinator
at Master in International Relation and Diplomacy, Tribhuwan
University discussed the role of soft power in the changing
context. He complemented on Dr. Bhatta's argument of US strategy
of using soft power in global influence. He said right from
the beginning, United States has been utilizing soft and hard
power as means of control. Soft power was not effective tool
to diplomacy, still the strategy of United States is hard power,
which is still reflecting through invasion and attacks in various
He said that US has used its soft power only to content communism
in the world. Soft power is a tool to American state and ideology-
to expand and disseminate human rights, freedom and democracy.
He said hard power as economic power where hard power had prevailed
before the military discourse before the second world. Even
though American developed military capacity, US got defeated
in Vietnam War.
He highlighted the IMF as European establishment and European
strategy to expansion of soft power and ADB and World Bank as
tools of American. 13 Millions dollar was used in first Golf
He used an example of American soft power with education. For
example, Nobel Prize, patent rights, Apple I Pad and tablets
also as expansion of soft power to United Sates. Similarly,
yoga and Hindi movies are popular as smart power of India. And
Toyota, Sony, Menahga are Japanese soft power.
Budha's teaching is a soft power of Nepal. Similarly, Diasporas
effort of pursuing national values in oversees, also the soft
K.C. said that the main challenge of Nepal is to develop national
interest through diplomacy. These are the paradoxes that we
are facing in modern days.
Chair Remarks- instead of talking on the paper presented by
Dr. Bhatt, KC expanded the discourse of soft, hard and smart
During the floor Discussion, Mr. D. B. Rana raised his concern
of how we suggest the Nepali diplomats to use soft power in
the countries they serve. Bidhya Laxmi Shrestha asked that,
it is believed that power comes from the barrel of the gun,
how is it possible to use soft power in present context. Shyam
Bandu Subedi made a remark that, soft power itself is not the
means of diplomacy, to create the country image; soft power
means are attraction tools. How we can reform diplomatic channel
to attract foreigners and other people in Nepal. How we can
corporate different types of diplomacy. Gobinda's Narayan, suggested
his ideas as fighting Joseph Nye, 1990, end of the block- soft
power is not a new emergence in global arena, saying we don't
need to go back to US, he remembered 1950, when US president
visited UK. He said export of soft power is not latest innovation,
topic of change- not much relevant off-course, we has already
moved 25 years.
Clarifying questions raised during the floor discussion, Bhatt
said that hard power has been always dominating in human history
to achieve something in the nation. Domination of hard power
is not mentioned. Domination of policy - hard power is not sufficient,
during war- hard power is in top priority, but in the rest of
the time- soft power could be effective means to expansion the
values of country.
In the response of Subedi's question Dr. Bhatt said that expanding
soft power is not the responsibility of foreign ministry. Non
Residential diplomacy is also an important aspect in soft power.
In response of Gobinda's question said that- whole of the energy
of the nation is in promulgation of the constitution. Social
power is heavier component in both hard and soft power, which
is the source of legitimacy. Maoist came to the power, Nepali
Congress and CPN-UML, dominating self criticism. West US, always
they are dominating and which continues next couple of decades.
What India is offering is software, Bollyhood, yoga and music.
When country becomes more effective with economy, then only
state can think about the soft power diplomacy.
Responding the questions and queries, Dr. K.C. said the country
can enhance diplomacy with Ten zing Norgay, Gurkhas, Buddha,
Dr. Kumud Dhital, and Young Scientist in NASA. One of the best
ways to enhance our diplomacy is to promulgate new constitution
at the first. He cited that Modi has mentioned Nepal in UN and
Delhi. And if we can establish best education institution, if
you can attract student from the world- it can enhance the soft
power of the country. Nepal has to transform in this way. These
are the major instruments to enhance the soft power.
Chair's Remarks, Dr. Amatya said that the paper is very informative
and comprehensive to understand the soft power discourse. The
remarks made by Dr. KC became very substantive to complement
the some of the gaps of paper. He emphasized that soft power
concept came into use in early 1970s, when America failed to
win Vietnam through hard power, the question of soft power got
momentum in international arena.
He urged that Soviet Union, also faced same fate that US faced
in Vietnam War. He also emphasized that religious and cultural
components are very important. The main concern is how to understand
the cultural and religious aspect of this country. Coming to
Nepal, soft power is very important. But unfortunately, we don't
have effective diplomacy in global arena. We cannot minimize
our values. We should move forward expanding our national interest
with political, cultural and religious aspects.
Technical Session II
Second session was chaired by Ananda Aaditya and paper was
presented by Bishnu Hari Nepal, former ambassador to Japan.
Dr. Nepal's paper was divided into main nine sections; the
himalayan world order, pre-war position of the new world order,
cold war dilemma for new world order, Hard power status of strategic
order, the soft power perspectives, The tug of war between USA
and China to Maintain Economic World Order, the world order
and the Sino-Indian Hard power and Soft Power Nexus to Nepal
A summary and Recommendation of Five theories to Mitigate the
decentralized effects of shift of world order impacts in Nepal.
Muma Ram Khanal, commentator of this session made his presentation
with some reservation. He said, this is new area and he has
no expertise in subject matter. Khanal emphasized that knowledge
should be a matter of practice, if it is not so it is useless.
Explaining the context of World War I, World War II, and Cold
war to explain the shifting world order from USA to Russia,
he urged that even a small change has great significance in
politics. Therefore, struggle of Hitler and Death of Rosa Luxemburg
also important in the discussion of soft, hard and smart power.
He talked about the global scenario of politics and world order
since the First World War to current time. Rise of Pakistan,
Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and the main factor behind the rise
of various countries is linked with Maoist movement.
National liberation struggle reached into the crisis. 1970-
Failure of Maoist movement. Gorvachov and Mao Tsung- total foundation
was constructed in the phase of Mao- the economic foundation
is the basis of then times. The conflict between the capitalism
and socialism is major theme from First World War to 1990. After
1990, some people argued world is in uni-polar, but he expressed
his dissatisfaction in this idea. He linked the Nepal's context-
Crimea's case and Russian stance also reflect the shift in the
world order. Economic development without political order is
almost impossible. Politics and economy shift go hand in hand.
He supported presentators' argument for the solution of country
with reservation. Politics doesn't work with fairy tale. In
order to develop our country, we need to take own model. Self-development
model is essential.
During the floor discussion, Dambar P. Thapa asked is the shifting
of present world order is beneficial to Nepal. Do you believe
it is important of stability of south Asia? Ravi asked that
how small countries achieve national interest with soft power?
Dibya Laxmi Bajarcharya asked that if china would come as a
member of SAARC, what will be the name of the particular organization,
should it be changed or not, and other countries nearby in China
also wish to join into the SAARC what would be the best option.
Addressing the questions raised in the floor, Dr. Nepal replied
that political transformation and system of governance are important
for any country, if a country can maintain necessary political
order, change is beneficial and if not which could have negative
implication. On the question of Ravi, Dr.Nepal replied that
small countries can preserve their national interest through
cooperation of each other, for example Nepal and Sri Lanka can
help each other to preserve their national interest. On the
concern of China's interest in SAARC, he replied that China
is not in the South Asia. China is emerging as economic power
and India is in strategic importance after the Modi's leadership.
China's interest in SAARC is a serious matter of discussion
at political level.
Technical Session III
For the session of Jay Raj Aacharya's presentation, Dr. Ram
Bahadur Chhetri served as chair Dr. Ram Thapaliya was commentator.
The paper "Emerging Trends in Nepal's Foreign Policy: Use
of soft Power Always" emphasized the Nepal's foreign policy
and its characteristics in various stages including stage of
national unification (formation of modern state by Prithivi
Narayan Shah), stage of isolationism (Rana regime until 1947)
and stage of non-isolationism (1947-1960), stage of balance
and Non-alignment (1961-1971), stage of Zone of peace, Nepal
Under the King Birendra's direct rule (1972-1990), Stage of
Confusion- existing situation after 2006's conflict scenario
of lack of clear vision and vigor and future priorities.
He emphasized that Nepal as a sovereign country needs to prioritize
socio-economic development as a strategy of soft power. Furthermore,
Acharya stated that balanced relations with immediate neighbors,
greater role in the United Nations and United Nations Peace
Keeping Operations, relations with global powers and donor countries
for socio-economic development and effective role in the regional
organizations SAARC, BIMSTEC for social development should be
priorities of Nepal.
Dr. Thapaliya, commentator of this paper, congratulated Acharya
for his exemplary effort to bring all these issues in foreign
policy discussion. He said that foreign policy itself is a very
effective tool of a nation. It should be able to incorporate
the national sentiment, nationalist politics, national movement
or national unity. Today, global power also realized that the
most important part is unity. Foreign policy should be able
to unite the country and its people. At this juncture, Nepal's
priority is to develop and sustain democratic practice. This
is the only way, our policy make it visible in international
Thapaliya pointed out that Non Alignment movement is an important
but sometimes alignment could be an important decision for the
small countries like Nepal. He shared an example of Australia
expressing how Australia maximized her benefits through the
alignment. He said economy and culture as important component
of Chinese soft power and Do No Harm as American soft power
In floor discussion, Gobinda Narayan said this presentation
is highly informative and he was fond of the idea of confusion.
But, it will be great to hear that- where we are heading from
the state of confusion. Barun Ghimire raised concern by saying
that since Nepal has no option to use hard power and soft power,
what are the elements of soft power and how country can overcome
these challenges of soft power.
Dirgha Raj Sigdel posed a question to Dr. Thapaliya saying
soft power is only used for survival of United States, not for
the do no harm of others. What can we believe that US invasion
in different places, attacks in Afghanistan and other countries
as their policy of do no harm. Similarly, Krishna Belbase asked
his concern on how to balance policy and principles in foreign
Responding on the queries and questions, Dr. Acharya said good
idea is not sufficient to influence in foreign policy and international
relation, if diplomacy is bad, everything becomes counterproductive.
Small countries like Nepal should utilized soft power through
diplomatic channel. He highlighted the differences between policy
and principles of a country in international relation. A country
with good diplomacy can change the policy with regime and change
in leadership , but principles should be same. Clarifying the
question asked to him, Thapaliya said, the concept of do no
harm is used by United States. But it is context specific and
Closing the technical session, chair emphasized that culture
itself as a source of soft power in Nepal.
Technical Session IV
Fourth Session was chaired by Krishna Belbase, former head
of International Relations. Prof. Subedi made his presentation
on "Regime Change and Political Construction of Soft Power
in Nepal. Main emphasis of this paper was Lucian W. Pye's Concept
on Power and Nepalese Context, Various regimes in Nepal with
change in power dynamics, source of power/authority and influence
in Nepali society shift of power in post 2006's scenario, soft
power in Nepalese Context and challenges to consolidate soft
power in Nepal with way forward and deliberation.
Through his presentation, Prof. Subedi argued that historical,
political development of Nepal has a three tier interlinked
of class, caste/ethnicity and gender with the unification campaign
of several princely states in the 17th century. But post 2006's
political situation has created a huge polarization in Nepali
society along social, political and ethnic lines. This paper
helped to initiate the discussion on how republic Nepal can
consolidate hard power, soft power and smart power in current
situation of Nepal.
Commenting on the paper "Regime Change and Political Construction
of Soft Power in Nepal, Geja Sharma Wagle, said "soft power
is a kind of buzz word, which has no universally accepted definition.
Even Joseph Nye's definition is not satisfactory to explain
the complexities on understanding the soft power. He said that
soft power itself is not a policy. It is kind of a tool to extend
identity, values and national interest for countries. He said
that in the context of Nepal, political evolution, democratic
transition, peace process and international context matter in
the discussion of soft power.
He emphasized the strongest part of Nepali soft power as; religion,
unique cultural and diverse identities, which exist among the
Nepali people. Similarly, wide popularity of Mt. Everest, Annapurna
trekking route, Gurkha, Non Alignment Movement, Nepal's unique
peace process are also the tools of soft power. He emphasized
that state should be able to capitalize soft power through global
During the floor discussion, Dirgh Raj Sigdel and Barun Ghimire
raised their concerns on the paper and comments. Dirgh asked
that the country is declared as secular and how Nepal can use
particular religion to enhance our national interest as soft
power? Barun Ghimire clarified the differences of political
construct of soft power and politics soft power, which he realized
as confusion in the title of Subedi's paper.