Friday. Diplomacy is a collective phenomenon that includes not only politics, but also culture, art, social fields, etc., and as a decent memo writing service has prepared good answers for you.

Changing cast of characters - Indian Public Diplomacy

Traditionally, politics & the state played a significant role in shaping a country's image. Onset of information revolution & globalisation changed all that. There are significant non-state actors that play a crucial role in influencing and moulding public opinion. Most of these non-state actors now do that without any state patronage or direct encouragement from the state. A country should identify, recognise such groups and ensure that any public diplomacy strategy takes into account the existence of such groups. Sometimes, there are possibilities that such groups are acting in a manner that might be inimical to a country's interest or might indirectly promote a country's interests. A strategist should be able to anticipate and 'include' such possibilities.
For India, the 21st century will see the expansion of Indian corporates overseas significantly. These will be Indian MNCs, not necessarily outsourcing vendors, but also manufacturers and traders. These corporates with transnational interests will also be looked upon as "Indian" companies - projecting an image of India overseas. Case in point - Coca Cola & McDonald's - despite their global presence are still looked upon as symbols of 'Americanization' even though these brands adopted brand strategies in each country to 'localize' their product.
India's economic liberalization has meant more Indian companies are aggressively pushing for businesses overseas. Tata's acquisition of Corus, Jaguar, Landrover & Tetley Tea; Mahindra & Mahindra's forays into North America; the already entrenched position of Infosys, Wipro; ONGC Videsh scouting for energy resources overseas; Anil Ambani's tie up with Steven Spielberg to produce Hollywood movies etc. etc. Everyday we come across such stories in Indian & overseas media. What these companies will represent are Indian management style, work ethics, business values etc.
Interestingly, these issues were sharply brought into focus during the acquisition of Arcelor with Mittal Steel to create the biggest steel company of the world. The French CEO of Arcelor, Guy Dolle, is alleged to have made racial taunts against Indian businessman LN Mittal, also the 4th richest man in the world, and is alleged to have said Mittal was offering "monkey money" for acquiring Arcelor. This deal also resulted in the intervention of Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and was widely covered by the press. The Indian government took notice as well. This is all documented in the book "Cold Steel". (Read)
Consider this article that appeared in Fortune magazine in November, 2007 - "Jaguar, Land Rover look to buyers in India" (Read) - it says "Bizarrely, two Indian companies are among the leading bidders. Tata Motors (Charts) is basically a maker of commercial vehicles that has been building passenger cars for only a decade. Mahindra & Mahindra, which specializes in agricultural and utility vehicles, is just starting to build passenger cars this year." I thought the use of the word "bizzarely" was interesting while talking about an "Indian" acquisition of Land Rover. But it just did not stop there. It went on to say "And how many Anglophile owners of Jags and Range Rovers are likely to remain loyal to their brands once title passes to the sub-continent?" - I don't know what it meant, it could be either - Indians are not cool enough, Indian carmakers sucks, Indian companies cannot ensure quality control - whatever, Alex Taylor III might seem to be an Anglophile after one reads this article. What's interesting is that this article followed one in October, 2007 - "India's firms build global empires" (Read) - in the same magazine. A very informative article that concludes with - "Increasingly, Indian dreams are shaping the reality of global commerce. Those dreams ... offer great potential as a force for future growth." Positive insights into the possibility called India. India also has 24 billionaires with a combined net worth of $107 billion. Four Indians were among the world's top 10 richest. (Forbes)
In what could a direct example of what I am trying to put forth here - Indian business has become a crucial actor in Indian Public Diplomacy - consider the following article "Australians praise Sachin, avoid Slumdog to win Indian biz" in the Times of India on July 3, 2009. India and Indians are being closely observed. World over.
Developments such as above foster debate, discussions and the country gets talked about; opinions are formed. These offer wonderful opportunities to spread India's influence overseas as well and claim a bigger say in running the world economy. But do we have a strategy yet to leverage this interest? What would be also interesting to see is how these Indian companies vie for influence with Chinese companies...
-- Madhur


Bastille Day Parade - Feather in the cap for Indian Public Diplomacy

It was fascinating to watch the Maratha light infantry of the Indian Army LEAD the Bastille Day parade in Paris. It was full of symbolism that showcased the closeness of ties between France and India and also the importance of India in the new world order, where, just last week, the G-8 announced its own irrelevance and mooted the idea of a G-14 instead.

This symbolism will definitely give India an image boost in the West. Kudos to South Block mandarins for working towards it with the French. I am just curious to know the chain of events that led to it. How was the idea arrived at? Who mooted it first and why? Nonetheless, it does India's public diplomacy a lot good. I think it was a good 'stunt' to showcase the friendship, the relevance of India and also display a professional Indian army that can match the professionalism of the forces of a P 5 state.

There's a meeting of minds between France & India on a lot of issues:

  • Both support and strive to promote a multipolar world with both countries being one of the poles
  • France has been a defence supplier for India (Mirages for example) and now maybe the Rafale
  • The defence forces of both the countries share a healthy relationship and have participated in numerous joint exercises
  • France was also quick to sign a bilateral nuclear deal post the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation agreement
  • Both are stable democracies and France is supportive of India's candidacy for a permanent seat in the UN

Most Indian newspapers, including Hindustan Times and The Times of India reported that Manmohan Singh also became the first international leader to be invited to attend the parade at France (Sarkozy was the chief guest in India's republic day parade in 2008). However, it needs some verification. There were representatives from Cambodia and Germany too witnessing the parade. Nonetheless it was great honor for India indeed.

-- Madhur

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China - Perception challenges & Public Diplomacy

The recent riots at China's restive Xinjiang province presents a good opportunity to analyze developments that stretched China's public diplomacy machinery. The Global Times, in the meantime, has written a scathing editorial criticising Western press on their coverage of the Urumqi riots and for deliberately maligning China's image. Read it here.
A few other "perception" challenges of China in recent times include:
  • Western observers routinely talk about the fact that China’s economic success has not been accompanied by significant political reforms and the single-party regime remains in force, even as the public sector is being rolled up.
  • Taiwan's refusal to allow the path of the running of the Olympic torch through its territory.
  • It's censorhip of information and the country was in news recently when it blocked Google for an hour.
  • Its support for the government at Sudan. This was an issue that was raised prior to the Beijin Olympics in 2008.
  • The contaminated pet food fiasco in North America last year which put into doubt the credibility & quality control in Chinese companies.
  • Attacks on an oil installation in Ethiopia that killed 9 Chinese workers.
  • The riots in Jharkhand in India between local laborers and workers of Sinosteel.
  • It's abysmal human rights record and the Tibetan issue.

China, just few days ago, objected to financial aid from Asian Development Bank to Arunachal Pradesh in India disputing Arunachal's status as an Indian state. This was disapponting considering the recent efforts to build trust between the countries. This will also definitely not go down well with the Indian people who remain wary of the Chinese threat. Besides, China's support of Pakistan is well known. Does the Chinese establishment care about a charm offensive targeted towards Indians? Positive perception of China in India is crucial to ensure that conflict (be it political or military) doesn't disrupt the growth momentum of these Asian giants.

-- Madhur

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