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  • Writer's pictureDinesh Shahra

Phoenix rising : South East Asia and India’s Soft Power

South East Asia has always been in the cusp of two overwhelmingly large civilizations, namely India and China. While China’s rise is looked upon with apprehension, the admiration for India’s growing clout is viewed more positively by SE Asian Nations. Unlike other major civilizations, Indian never resorted to use of force to enforce their dominance. Hu Shih, former Ambassador of China to USA once said"India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border." Nowhere is the sight of India’s soft power more evident than in Khmer nation of Cambodia, a cradle of our civilization in the Southeast Asia.

Not many people know that the largest temple dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses, lies outside the ambit of Indian sub-continent. The Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, houses the ruins of the largest temple on the planet. More heartening is the fact that propagation of Indian civilization there, was without any form of violence or allurement. Unlike Semitic Religions, the expansion of Hindu fold was powered by sanskritization and incorporation of local deities and legends with Hindu Mythology. Khmer rulers were great proponents of shaivite philosophy.

  Their monuments are among the greatest architectural wonders, humanity has ever come across; However power games and ethnic rivalries got better of this great architectural heritage. Angkor wat was ravaged repeatedly by invaders and lately by treasure hunters from across the world. The ruins of Angkor silently remind us that in race for superiority and proving one’s point, Mankind has destroyed some of its greatest asset. Throughout history, Emperors and looter have taken pride in destroying icons of the vanquished civilization .If not for these beastly tendencies our cultural heritage would have been many times richer. However all that seems to be changing;Today the ruins of  Angkor Vat are among the most visited heritage sites in the world. International efforts for its restoration and general appreciation of the monuments indicate that the age of globalization is here to stay.

Dissipated Idols in Angkor Vat Temple Complex

Crystallization of India’s “Look East” policy has paved way for participation of Indian Industry in the redevelopment of Cambodia. In line with the above vision, Ruchi Soya has already commenced operation in Cambodia. We believe commercialization of Agriculture and development of Agro-processing Industry in the Nation will give Cambodian the best chance to meet the challenges of future with confidence.  With the zeal for development and immense potentiality of human resource,  the day is not far when Khmers will regain their lost glory.

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