Eighth Pupul Jayakar Memorial Lecture Cultural Diplomacy: Leveraging India’s Soft Power

18 April 2016

Pupul Jayakar was influenced deeply by theosophy and became a follower of one of its best known spiritual masters, J. Krishnamurti. One of my treasured possessions is an autographed copy of her celebrated biography of the spiritual guide and teacher. This was her gift to me in the midst of the Festival of India in Japan in 1987/88, which I regard as one of our most successful forays in cultural diplomac y, showcasing the breathtaking range of cultural experiences that India has to offer. The Festival in Japan, just like the earlier Festivals in the US and France, was meticulously choreographed by Pupul Jayakar. As coordinator of the Festival in the Indian Embassy in Japan, I had the rare privilege of working closely with her, putting in place nearly 30 events – performing arts, theatre, exhibitions, fashion shows and film festivals, which eventually covered as many locations throughout Japan. Japanese TV channels carried Festival related programming of over 100 hours, all without cost, bringing Indian culture as a living phenomenon into the homes of millions of Japanese. And over this veritable cultural feast presided Pupul Jayakar, not inappropriately known as the Czarina of Indian culture. I am honoured to have been invited to deliver this address in her memory.