Showing posts with label Public Diplomacy Conference. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Public Diplomacy Conference. Show all posts


Survey of attitudes by India's PD division

The Public Diplomacy division of Government of India in collaboration with the Center for Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania, is conducting a survey of attitudes with regard to India's foreign policy. It is a survey of 'elite attitudes' - given that fact that it is a survey of international relations faculty in Indian academic institutions - and is a first of its kind exercise undertaken by the PD division.

It is currently also being conducted at the first National Conference on International Relations - Shifting Sands: India in the Changing Global Order, in New Delhi, India. The introduction to the survey states, 
"... there is relatively little understanding about what Indians take to be the nature of international politics, and correspondingly, how their power and influence should be used. This survey seeks to help better understand Indian attitudes on the role of power, order, force and justice in international politics. How will the interplay of long-held beliefs, India's vision of itself, the rise of new actors and institutions and India's changing relationship with the West influence India's worldview and role in global affairs?"
It will be interesting to see the results of this survey, which has good news potential as well. The conference in itself is a first time initiative by the PD division to create a forum for Indian academics, policymakers and practitioners of international relations to meet, network and exchange ideas.

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur


Paper: The role of global media and how governments can strengthen Australian–Indian relations through strategic communications

The following is an abstract of a paper I recently presented at an international PD conference  - "Public Diplomacy in Theory and Practice: Culture, Information and Interpretation in Australian-Indian Relations" - at the India International Centre, New Delhi, on April 8th. Do email me your observations/critiques, if any.

An analysis of the role of global media and how Governments can strengthen Australian–Indian relations through strategic communications

Australian-Indian relations were severely tested recently over unprovoked violence against Indians in 2009 and early 2010. The issue revealed the central role of media in international relations today. Indian newspapers - Mail Today, The Times of India etc., - aggressively reported on the issue and made the Australians defensive, and, Government of India to react as per media’s analysis of events. This reflected a lack of
 - Media relations strategy &
- Realization by both governments about pervasiveness of “conversations in media” today.
This paper argues how governments need to be imaginative, strategic and adopt a campaign approach to media relations when it comes to public diplomacy.
Be it the angry rebuttal by Victoria Police or India’s foreign minister’s veiled threats to Australia, the official reactions lacked direction. The problem was further exacerbated by inherent limitation in government communications which are mostly “one way” and seen as “less credible” and “defensive” vis-a-vis media in democracies. Besides, both governments failed in communicating effectively to domestic audiences on the issue. The solution lies in governments understanding role of
- Global media relations,
- Diverse players in a “conversation economy,” and,
- Adopting a “campaign approach” with tools used effectively by the private sector 

There is a convergence of strategic interests between both countries. Bilateral relationships, trade, people to people contacts have never been so good. Both have an interest in the stability of Asia and preventing Chinese dominance of Asia.Keeping in mind the synergies, it is a cause for alarm when The Times of India recently reported that there has been a 46% drop in the number of student visa applications to Australia.While certain sections in India may feel vindicated, it holds significant implications when it comes to building a strategic partnership with Australia as student exchanges are a key to building “generational flesh and blood linkages.” Hence, it is important for governments to shape the debate successfully in the media to encourage people to people exchanges.

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur


There's more to social media than Facebook and Twitter!

I was at an international PD conference yesterday speaking on the "Role of global media and how strategic communication can strengthen Australia-India relations." This was at an international conference - "Public Diplomacy in Theory and Practice: Culture, Information and Interpretation in Australian-Indian Relations" - organized by the Alfred Deakins Research Institute, Australia and Rajdhani College, Delhi University, India. The conference is being sponsored by the Australia India institute and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India. 

During my talk, I emphasized the role of conversations in shaping perceptions today and the potential of social media. It was interesting to field lot of questions, after my talk, that bordered on cynicism towards social media and the sphere of influence of web enabled platforms. In this gathering of academics and policy wonks, what I could not help notice was that social media was broadly understood to be 'Facebook' and 'Twitter,' and, the limitations of the these two social networking platforms to influence and engage. 

Conversations in social media do not necessarily happen on these two platforms. There are numerous other areas where debates are being shaped, opinions formed and perceptions created. Simplest example, that comes to mind, is the space for reader's comments on news websites. This is where people take action on news, engage in debates and express opinions. Consider the article below that generated 477 comments on the issue of violence against Indians in Australia. This is The Economist and not even a newspaper from Australia or India. This is an example of social media enabled conversation that can shape perceptions. How do we manage such conversations?

Regrettable facts

Thuggery mars a burgeoning friendship

Australia and anti-Indian violence

See article

Readers' comments

Reader comments on this article are listed below. The 15-day commenting period for this article has expired and comments are no longer being accepted. Review our comments policy.

1-20 of 477

EliasX wrote:
Jun 18th 2009 4:48 GMT
The Economist, like other media, fails to mention what kind of Lebanese-Australians are apparently attacking Indians in Australia.
Officialdom calls this a “law-and-order” issue, and the Indian press rants about “racism” in Australia. No one, it seems, is asking what kind of Lebanese these assailants are.
Are they Christians? Or, more likely, are they Muslims? The Indians are mostly, one would assume, Hindus. Maybe this is a religious issue? Muslims, given Islamic tenets regarding polytheists and idolators, have a long, sordid, intolerant, and murderous history of “Hinduphobia.”


Conference: Public Diplomacy in the Information Age

"Public Diplomacy in the Information Age" was a very successful conference. Congratulations to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for pulling this off - a first of its kind international conference on PD in India!  I hope this becomes an annual affair. It was also wonderful meeting some of my readers at the conference. I will share my learnings from this conference in subsequent posts and try to examine and ideate on the way forward. 

Some initial observations:
  1. Keeping with the spirit of New Public Diplomacy, it was heartening to see participation of representatives from different sectors - Policymakers, corporate world, diplomats, civil society organizations, students, foreign experts etc -  MEA got it right in understanding the importance of collaboration and partnerships. Nobody can go alone in today's world.
  2. Discussion topics, though not exhaustive, were chosen well that tried to capture the dominant themes in PD discourse today globally, including discussions on PD 2.0 and role of transnational corporations in shaping perceptions and 'generating influence.'
  3. The tone of the conference was basic. Most issues discussed were maybe 'PD 101' for some participants who have some background in PD or global communications. Nonetheless, there were no dearth of interesting insights for the student and practitioner of Public Diplomacy.
  4. While ignorance about PD among some participants can be understood given that it is 'new' in India, what I failed to understand was the lack of a nuanced understanding of PD and its role in statecraft among some academics and  ex-diplomats. We may not be doing it but aren't we supposed to know what's happening around the world in our respective areas of expertise? Thank god the conference happened!
Public Diplomacy & Power:

A question that came up repeatedly was the relationship between 'Public Diplomacy' and 'Power.' Some sections of participants found it difficult to accept that PD 'IS' about 'power.' Public diplomacy is an important tool in the arsenal of 'smart power' of a nation - to enhance influence & achieve national, strategic objectives, lessening reliance on 'disruptive' hard power, to the extent possible, in an increasingly interconnected world. Isn't it interesting that India's attempts at institutionalizing PD follows adoption of 'power projection' in strategic discourses on hard power doctrines? Public diplomacy was essential in winning the cold war and will be key in current struggle against transnational terrorism. 'Persuasion' scores over 'Coercion' and PD is the 'force multiplier' for  the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). In the 'Age of Information' where ideas, values, conversations resound across the world, PD will become an important tool of statecraft.

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur

PD in the information age: Conference in New Delhi, Dec 10th- 11th, 2010

New Delhi will host an international conference on Public Diplomacy in the coming week. "Public Diplomacy in the Information Age" is being organized on Dec 10th and 11th at The Hotel Le Meridien, Janpath, New Delhi. There will be a series of workshops as well on Nation Branding, Global Media and PD strategies. To be chaired by the Foreign Secretary, Government of India, Dr Nirupama Rao, the conference would also have participants like Shashi Tharoor, MP, and Dr Nicholas Cull from the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. If I am not wrong, I think it is the first of its kind such conference on PD in India in terms of its scale and outreach. 

I am glad I have been given the opportunity to participate and hope to share my learnings from the conference and workshops through this blog. Look forward to lots of learning and a stimulating exchange of ideas. 

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur

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