Recently, Brand value of Bharat has been upgraded by 32 per cent in a Brand Nation survey by independent agency. This is not an accident. The government has digitised about 20 lakh characters of citizen and public records using its Digitize India Platform (DIP) as part of the Digital India programme. Millions of people have joined the Banking network. There is a complete turnaround in crucial sectors like power, aviation and infrastructure. Participatory initiatives like Swachh Bharat, Make in India, Skill India and Digital India are increasing the government public interface. There are strides on foreign policy and security fronts. The credibility of leadership is accepted and appreciated all over the globe. That is the reason Bharat holds the key to all important negotiations whether it is Climate Change or World Trade. Despite all attempts to derail the growth story of Bharat, combination of aggressive diplomacy, soft power and right policies have turned the tides to build nation’s brand across the globe.
The application of branding techniques to nations is a relatively new phenomenon, but one which is growing in frequency given the increasingly global competition that nations now face in both their domestic and external markets. Nations are making increasingly conscious efforts to hone their country branding in recognition of the need to fulfil three major objectives: to attract tourists, to stimulate inward investment and to boost exports. A wider set of potential rewards to be gained through nation branding has been proposed by Temporal, who suggests that in addition to the key goals of attracting tourists, stimulating inward investment and boosting exports, nation branding can also increase currency stability; help restore international credibility and investor confidence; reverse international ratings downgrades; increase international political influence; stimulate stronger international partnerships and enhance nation building (by nourishing confidence, pride, harmony, ambition, national resolve).
– Nation Branding, Keith Dinnie
So, how is Brand Bharat doing? Well, as per Brand Finance’s ‘Nation Brands 2015’ report (The annual report on the world’s most valuable nation brands) released in October 2015, Bharat is the world’s seventh most valued ‘nation brand’, with an increase of 32 per cent over last year in its brand value to USD 2.1 trillion. The rise of 32 per cent in Bharat’s ‘nation brand value’ is the highest among all the top-20 countries on the list.
Significant growth in Bharat’s brand value is not surprising looking at the other recent indicators, like:
- The World Bank’s annual ‘Doing Business’ report, now in its 13th year ranks Bharat at 130 out of 189 countries in the ease of doing business, moving up 12 places from last year.
- Nilesen had reported in October 2014, as Bharat being the second most optimistic nation in business optimism globally.
Significant growth in Bharat’s brand value is surprising looking at the fact that:
- Bharat had dropped down two places to stand at 142nd out of 189 countries ranked by the World Bank for ease of doing business, in its 2015 report, which covers the period from June 2013 to May 2014 (when the UPA was in power). Bharat stood at 184th in the category ‘Dealing with Construction Permits,’ and 186th in ‘Enforcing Contracts.’
One can only imagine the amount of efforts in a very short period that the current government has taken to get Bharat a rank of seventh most valued nation in the world. Apart from Financial Power, Soft Power plays a very important role in Branding of a nation. Brand Finance in its report mentions: “The US’ world-leading higher education system and the soft power arising from its dominance of the music and entertainment industries are significant contributors too. This soft power will help the US to retain the most valuable nation brand for some time after China’s seemingly imminent rise to become the world’s biggest economy”.
Bharat is also excising Soft Power, successfully… as per Huma Yusuf of the Pakistani Daily, Dawn. In a report ‘India Brand’, dated 26 October 2015, she writes:
“Rather than resent India’s soft power successes, Pakistan should learn from them. Soft power goes a great way towards shaping the global image of a country. It drives foreign investment and trade as a country’s products begin to have more global appeal. It helps bridge socio-cultural difference by improving global understanding of a people. And it bestows political power by generating respect, which translate into support at international fora.”
One wonders what would have been the reaction on June 21 being celebrated as International Yoga Day. The UN resolution to declare June 21 as International Yoga Day saw a record number of 177 countries co-sponsoring it. Undoubtedly, it has been one of the best examples of excising soft power, in the modern era.
Bharateeya government’s many strategic and unsung initiatives are behind these achievements. Some of them being:
- The Third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III) held in New Delhi, Bharat from 26–30 October, 2015, with participation from 54 nations from African Sub-continent.
- Forum for India-Pacific Islands cooperation (FIPIC), a multinational grouping developed in 2014 for cooperation between Bharat and 14 Pacific Islands nations which include Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu had its summit in Jaipur on 21-22 August, 2015.
Bharat has taken the leadership role in restoring the future of coming generations. Bharat was at the centre at the Conference of Parties (COP21) climate summit in Paris and ultimately lived up to the expectations, by providing leadership not just to protect interests of developing and less developed countries, but also keeping in mind the concerns of future generations. Bharat is heard and respected because Bharat has been walking the talk. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an International Solar Alliance of over 120 countries with the French president, Francois Hollande, at the Paris COP21 climate summit.
Bharat has been effectively on the way to get positioned as one of the best destination for both inward and outward business. But Bharat is much more and beyond business. From the earliest time, Bharat was known for its product and trade, but was respected for its spirituality. Spiritual Bharat is the strongest brand. And with Ganga Aarti, on the banks of river Ganga in the oldest city of the world and spiritual capital of Bharat, Varanasi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharat is also reclaiming its position of spiritual guide to the world.
The pictures in the beginning of this article depict the journey of Brand Bharat, positioned as a nation of snake charmers by its own leaders to a positioning of “Spiritual” nation by Bharateeya and Japanese Prime Minister. Apart from global initiatives, local initiatives like Make In India, Skill India, Digital India, Swachh Bharat etc. generate confidence among the global community and complement & supplement the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making Bharat a better and bigger brand.
The journey so far, can be summed up best in the words of Vamsee Juluri (Rearming Hinduism): “It is not an exaggeration to say that the hope that 2014 has brought to many in India marks one of the most important and inspiring turning points in the history of not just India but the world too. It marks not only the restoration of an honoured place for Hindu civilisation in the land of its birth, or India's pride in world affairs, but something even more important and crucial; 2014 marks the return of intelligence as a guiding force over human destiny.”
Time is not too far when, Bharat will reclaim its true position—branding of ‘Vishwa Guru’.
Sandeep Singh (The writer is founder of www.swastik.net.in)