India Foundation’s Center for Soft Power (CSP) is a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation which is working dedicatedly to pursue the merits of soft power through the various domains of cultural sphere between countries across the world to build strong pro-societal relationships. This is achieved through the conduct of numerous interactions across the society through events, seminars, discussion based forums and organizing conferences.
To cultivate a healthy society, CSP actively works to promote Yoga, which is a key element of soft power in connecting nations. As a part of this theme, it had played a proactive role to engage with Nouf Marwaai, an eminent personality from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Founder of Arab Yoga Foundation and a Padma Shri awardee from the Government of India.
Center for Soft Power facilitated Nouf to engage with several yogic platforms in Chennai. On August 17, 2019, the first interaction was at Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM) on, a landmark institute and a frontrunner in teaching traditional and contemporary techniques of Yoga to the city’s diverse population. The event was headed by Shri. Sridharan, Trustee and senior mentor of KYM.
Many participants from foreign countries attended the forum with great interest. Nouf spoke on her personal experience and the benefits of practicing Yoga. She stressed on the importance of Yoga and explained how it is a gift of India and that the people of Saudi Arabia have started accepting the practice.
She said that it was inspiration from the teachings of Aurobindo and Krishnamacharya that had a deep impact on her life which helped her to pursue Yoga in true spirit. She also explained how her Arab Yoga foundation is pioneering the efforts to promote Traditional Yoga in Saudi Arabia through her team of 700 professional experts and 10,000 students in the city of Jeddah alone.
CSP facilitated the second important engagement at the Meenakshi Academy of Higher Education and Research in Chennai on August 18. The conference was organised by the Faculty of Yoga Sciences and Therapy. Nouf Marwaai was invited as the Guest of Honour. The event was a productive session with Nouf sharing her personal challenges of life before Yoga and how life had dramatically altered positively after implementing the learned Yogic practices. Many research scholars presented their papers on important findings in Yoga science.
On the same day, the final yet most valuable event was a public talk organised by CSP for Nouf in collaboration with Chettinad Harishree Vidyalayam on ‘Prospects of India – Saudi Arabia Soft Power Relations: From Yoga to Diaspora.’ The session was dynamic with the topic deliberated on being soft power and its capable outreach which binds communities far and wide through shared interaction and mutual friendship. Nouf also underscored the historical relationship between India and Saudi Arabia that has evolved over the years. Saying that about 25% of Saudi’s expatriate population are Indians, she outlined the similarities of the cultural and family values of both India and Saudi Arabia. She sounded optimistic and expressed hope that the existing Indo-Saudi Arabian bond of friendship can be taken forward to greater levels through renewed values of soft power and culture.