As a kid of 1980s I had always known that Americans were always saving the world and that besides some aliens and monsters it were the Soviets that were the enemy. I knew US from its movies and TV shows that were exported throughout the commonwealth of the erstwhile British Empire. The impact was profound. In spite of having a full shelf of Russian fairy tales (in English) it was the average Joe of US that deserved all the praise.
This is the soft cultural power and Hollywood has beaten practically everyone in this game in almost all of English speaking world. The Chinese have woken up to these facts sometime back and have started instituting their own ‘’glorious’ history and myths alike. So when you see a Kung Fu master flying, you never question – that’s the glorious past of east. The Subtext of these marvelous masters is that China is rising to reclaim its ‘deserving glory’ and is justified in claiming Mongolian silk road as Chinese.
This brings me to the cultural perceptions of Indians. To most we are just a land of snake charmers and dancers who break into dance whenever music starts playing in middle of nowhere.
There is hardly a mention of the fact that battles of El Alamein, the turning point of whole WW II, was itself a lost cause till the time Indian troops stepped in (And to be fair – Australians too). The fact that Japanese were undefeated till the time they encountered Indian frontiers also misses the point of what turned the war. A five thousand year old civilization, we have loads of stories to tell. The fact that Myanmar is more Indian than Han Chinese (for that matter much of Indo China) and that much of the world.
Sanskrit the language that has retained much of its form since second millennia BC has retained much of it form, making it only direct descendant of Proto-Indo-Iranian/Proto-Indo-European language. But still we do not tell our stories to the world.
When cultures clash it’s the one which accommodates the other wins. However in this softer warfare, we may be losing too much to accommodate. We need a long term plan for our cultural exports, someone needs to tell stories of India and there needs to be a national plan for all of this.