The Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi is a Beacon of Decolonisation


05:37 AM

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Why in News?

  • The construction of a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi has garnered global attention, being seen as more than just a ceremonial event or a diplomatic gesture.
  • This significant development is indicative of the deepening relationship between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reflecting mutual trust and a broader message that transcends religious and diplomatic boundaries.

Significance of BAPS Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi

  • Cultural Significance of the Temple
    • The BAPS temple holds cultural significance that transcends religious boundaries.
    • Its architecture, rituals, and symbolism encapsulate the rich cultural memories of Hinduism, inviting a cross-cultural dialogue.
    • The inclusion of intricate carvings, traditional art forms, and architectural details from various regions of India within the temple structure serves as a testament to the diverse cultural heritage of the country.
  • Reimagining Multiculturalism
    • Multiculturalism is often seen as a delicate balance between different communities, but the Abu Dhabi temple reimagines it as an active engagement with cultural diversity.
    • The temple becomes a platform for cultural exchange, encouraging people of different backgrounds to appreciate and understand the values embedded in Hindu culture, fostering mutual respect.
  • The Message of Unity in Diversity
    • The construction of the temple echoes Prime Minister’s vision of achieving the unity of opposites.
    • In a world marked by religious and cultural tensions, the temple stands as a symbol of unity amidst diversity, showcasing the ability of different cultures to coexist harmoniously.
    • It exemplifies the idea that multiculturalism is not just about tolerance but about embracing and celebrating differences.
  • A Representation of Cultural Diplomacy Beyond Borders
    • The temple’s presence in Abu Dhabi is a testament to the enhanced relationship between India and the UAE.
    • By providing a space for a Hindu temple, the UAE acknowledges the importance of cultural diversity in the global landscape.
    • It signals a departure from the conventional understanding of diplomacy, moving beyond political alliances to emphasize cultural diplomacy as a powerful tool for fostering global harmony.
  • Reflects Prime Minister’s Mission
    • PM Modi's commitment to exploring Bharat’s ability to achieve the unity of opposites is exemplified through the temple.
    • His mission goes beyond religious or political boundaries and extends to a broader cultural realm.
    • The temple reflects a strategic cultural diplomacy initiative, positioning India as a torchbearer of multicultural values in a world grappling with identity conflicts.

Cultural Significance of Ram Temple Inauguration

  • Resolution of a Historical Conflict
    • The inauguration of the Ram temple follows a protracted historical conflict over the ownership of the Ayodhya site, marked by tensions between Hindus and Indian Muslims.
    • The site had been a focal point of the majoritarianism versus minority rights debate for decades.
    • The resolution of this conflict through the construction of the temple signifies a departure from religious discord to a proactive engagement of the Indian state in addressing cultural and historical grievances.
  • Shifting the Discourse from Religion to Culture
    • The event shifts the discourse from religious conflict to a more inclusive engagement with culture.
    • It represents a conscious effort to reinterpret the significance of the temple beyond religious boundaries, emphasising the cultural heritage it represents.
    • By emphasising culture over religious differences, the PM seeks to foster a more inclusive national identity that transcends religious affiliations.
  • Reconnection with History and Hindu Identity
    • The construction of the Ram temple is a symbolic reconnection with India's historical roots and a reassertion of Hindu identity.
    • It is seen as a cultural revival that transcends the immediate religious context.
    • PM’s emphasis on India's historical legacy aims to instil a sense of pride in the nation's cultural heritage, providing a narrative that goes beyond contemporary religious debates.
  • Representation of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
    • PM's mission to explore Bharat’s ability to achieve the unity of opposites finds expression in the Ayodhya event.
    • It represents an effort to embody the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which translates to "the world is one family."
    • The temple becomes a symbol of unity amidst diversity, challenging the narrative of cultural and religious divisions within the country.
  • Empowerment of Hindu Ideologues
    • The inauguration of the Ram temple has a broader impact on Hindu ideologues who, historically, may have been dependent on Orientalist categories to engage in discussions about Indian culture.
    • PM’s proactive approach in presenting Hindu views globally enhances the morale and efforts of Hindu ideologues, providing them with a platform to assert their cultural perspectives.

An Analysis of De-Westernization of Diplomacy Envisioned by the Prime Minister’s Strategic Approach

  • Abandoning Western Paradigms
    • PM’s outreach signals a conscious effort to move away from relying solely on Western paradigms in understanding Arab and Islamic countries.
    • It challenges the notion that Western perspectives should be the basis for comprehending non-Western nations.
    • This departure signifies a recognition that diverse cultures and historical contexts cannot be fully understood or addressed through a single Western lens.
  • Cultural Sensitivity in Diplomacy
    • The de-Westernization of diplomacy emphasises cultural sensitivity as a cornerstone of international relations.
    • It acknowledges that each nation has its unique history, values, and perspectives, which must be considered in diplomatic engagements.
    • By engaging with nations on their own terms and respecting their cultural identities, PM Modi seeks to foster genuine partnerships based on mutual understanding.
  • An Ideological Mission
    • PM Modi's diplomatic strategy goes beyond pragmatic alliances and economic cooperation.
    • It aligns with a broader ideological mission to challenge the dominance of Western ideas and narratives.
    • The emphasis is on evolving an alternative discourse in partnership with other post-colonial societies, showcasing a commitment to shaping a global narrative that is more inclusive and diverse.
  • Cultural Legacy as Soft Power
    • India's rich cultural legacy becomes a potent tool in this de-Westernization process.
    • Instead of relying solely on economic resources, PM Modi recognises the strength of India's soft power, rooted in its philosophical and cultural heritage.
    • Initiatives like the construction of the Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi or engagements with Buddhist countries showcase the strategic use of soft power to build relationships and influence global narratives.
  • Challenging Western Hegemony
    • The shift in diplomatic strategy challenges the historical Western hegemony that has influenced global geopolitics.
    • It questions the West's role in shaping the narratives of Arab and Islamic countries and seeks to redefine the contours of relationships.
    • By asserting an independent voice, PM Modi's approach challenges the West's presumed authority to define the norms and values that govern international relations.
  • Liberalisation Beyond Western Assistance
    • The West's approach to helping the Islamic world liberalize itself should be scrutinised in this context.
    • Instead of relying on Western assistance, India, under PM Modi, takes the lead in fostering the liberalisation of non-Western societies on their own terms.
    • This challenges the historical exploitation of religious conflicts by the West to maintain its hegemony and prompts a revaluation of the global power dynamics.


  • The inauguration of the Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi serves as a powerful symbol of cultural diplomacy, redefining multiculturalism, and challenging prevailing ideologies.
  • The Prime Minister’s leadership reflects a departure from Western-centric views, fostering a global discourse that embraces diverse cultural perspectives and seeks a world free from hostilities.

Q1) What is soft diplomacy, and how does it differ from traditional diplomacy?

Soft diplomacy, also known as cultural diplomacy or public diplomacy, involves using non-coercive and non-military methods to build positive relationships between countries. It focuses on cultural, educational, and people-to-people exchanges to foster mutual understanding and cooperation. Unlike traditional diplomacy, which often relies on political negotiations and military power, soft diplomacy emphasises building trust and goodwill through shared values and common interests.

Q2) What are some examples of soft diplomacy initiatives employed by countries?

Soft diplomacy initiatives include activities such as cultural exchanges, educational programs, and collaborative projects. For instance, countries may promote their arts, music, literature, and cuisine abroad to showcase their cultural richness. Educational exchanges, like student programs and scholarships, also contribute to cross-cultural understanding. Additionally, joint scientific research, environmental cooperation, and humanitarian efforts are examples of soft diplomacy initiatives that help build positive international relations based on common goals and shared values.

Source: The Indian Express