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The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), in collaboration with Prasar Bharati, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and University of Westminster (UK), held a day-long conference on ‘Communicating India’. A galaxy of prominent thinkers, writers and speakers, including Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, and Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Prime Minister’s Office, contributed to the success of conference, both by their gracious presence as also adding value to the underlying thought process behind the event.
The conference was both conceptualised and materialised broadly in light of the fact that while India has taken long developmental strides since independence in 1947, the pace of development being remarkable especially over the past three decades, not enough attention has been paid towards communicating India’s success stories either internally or to the world at large.
It was also felt that communicating India’s story strategically would not only act as force multiplier to the process of development but would also help in garnering international clout for the country. The conference significantly brought to light a number of positives, starting from India being a syncretic culture to a rapidly developing economy. India’s thriving democracy, pluralistic culture, financial and digital inclusion, demographic dividends, global leadership in information technology, and advancement in space exploration are among stories that need to be strategically communicated across the board, a consensus view among experts that resonated throughout the conference.
Main themes conference were as outlined below:-
(a) Telling the India Story to the World: India has to date been slow to harness its soft power in managing information flows in a globalised age of meditated international relations and has largely failed in informing the world of its many achievements to counter the negative and often stereotypical representation of the nation. Speakers representing this session focused on how to streamline and improve Government and corporate communication with a view to underpin India’s outreach to the world.
(b) Communicating via Journalism: Despite having a long tradition of high quality journalism and being home to one of the biggest news providers in the world, Indian presence in the international news sphere remains abysmally low. Speakers in this section explored how a public-private partnership could be developed to make Indian news, and news with an Indian perspective, accessible to global viewers.
(c) Dialogue with Diaspora: India has one of the world’s biggest and most vocal diaspora. At 24-million strong, Indians abroad have excelled in many spheres of life and enriched the cultural, economic and intellectual experience of countries, such as the United States and Britain. Harnessing this intellectual and professional power to promote India is not only crucial for the government but also for corporate and civil society groups. Speakers in this panel focused on harnessing this intellectual power to promote India’s growing global presence.
The conference evoked considerable interest among the panelists who came up with a number of ideas and suggestions, aimed at harnessing India’s soft power potentials. A few notable suggestions include the creation of a global digital platform to showcase remarkable achievements which India possesses and has produced over the years, a database of Indian diaspora, smart use of the social media and better planning and execution of strategic communication targeting both domestic and international audiences. The panel included an impressive array of speakers – General NC Vij, Director, VIF, Dr. Daya Thussu, Professor of International Communication, University of Westminster, Amb G Parthasarathy, former diplomat, Shri Jay panda, Member of Parliament, Dr. Sanjay Baru, Senior Political Commentator and Analyst, Mr. Sunil Alagh, Marketing and Branding Specialist, Mr. Kanchan Gupta, Commissioning Editor and Commentator, ABP News, Mr. Ashok Tandon, former Media Secretary, PMO, Dr. Surya Prakash, Chairman Prasar Bharati, Mr. Nitin Gokhale, Senior Journalist, Ms. Indrani Bagchi, Senior Journalist, and Mr. Rohit Bansal, Group Leader (Communications) Reliance Group.