Asserting that India is witnessing an unprecedented resurgence of interest from around the world, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said the intense exchange of high-level visits and the qualitative change in the nature of interaction is proof of the growing esteem with which the world sees New Delhi.
"The intense exchange of high-level visits and the qualitative change in the nature of our interaction with the world since our government has taken over is proof, if proof is required, of the growing esteem with which the world sees us," she said.
Swaraj, who inaugurated the international conference on "Indian Diaspora and Cultural Heritage: Past, Present and Future" here, said this needs to be buttressed and reinforced by presenting a more sophisticated and evolved understanding of India.
The External Affairs Minister said the recent adoption of the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations, with a record 177 countries co-sponsoring, shows the global appeal of India's soft power.
"This soft power is anchored in our philosophical traditions, our consistent message of peace, harmony and co-existence, the attractiveness of our customs and traditions, textiles and dresses, dance and music, and, of course of our cuisine," said Swaraj.
"The Indian diaspora has not just preserved these but has also played an important role in promoting and propagating these valuable symbols of who we are," she added.
Expressing her delight to inaugurate the conference, Swaraj said this is a unique event, both in its structure and content.
"It is also very timely, because we are living in an era in which the cultural heritage of many societies is under threat, from war, from social and economic upheaval, and the forces of globalization and cultural homogenization," she added.
Swaraj further said cultural heritage does not end at monuments and artifacts.
"It also includes living traditions, the wealth of knowledge and skills that is inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants.
This is what gives us a sense of identity and continuity. It makes us who we are," she added.
Swaraj pointed out that the diaspora's role in preserving cultural heritage is particularly important.
"Yesterday, we concluded the Heads of Mission Conference in New Delhi. More than one hundred and twenty of our Ambassadors and High Commissioners had come to Delhi to participate in discussions on the overarching theme of Diplomacy for Development," said Swaraj.
"But in actual fact we have millions of Ambassadors all over the world, in the form of the non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin who have kept the spirit of India alive in their adopted homelands," she added.