India's ability to manage diversity in the age of globalisation has resulted in a rise of its soft power internationally, especially among the neighbouring countries, former United Nations under secretary general Shashi Tharoor said.
"India's soft power is on the rise. For example, Bollywood films are enjoying a great international audience. A diplomat friend of mine said that in Syria, the only portraits that you get as large as former president Hafiz Assad are those of Amitabh Bachchan," he said.
The television mega-serial Kyun ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi has become India's biggest asset in Afghanistan, where it is watched by 94 per cent of Afghans, he said.
"The serial has been able to trigger discussions in a society where women traditionally are kept under the veil," Tharoor said in Kolkata.
India's achievements in the field of education are also being acclaimed internationally. "These days, the United States puts the IITs on par with, say the MIT," Tharoor said.
Citing statistics, he said although India still remained a country of contradictions. He said India's diversity was its biggest asset and could propel it towards becoming a great power among nations if this diversity was not undermined by religious intolerance and political opportunism.