Rebranding India in global media

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New Delhi, May 1: Global audiences are getting a taste of a ''new India'' that provides an alternative to typical images portrayed in the international media since several decades. Luminaries from different fields, including MP Sachin Pilot, actor Chitrangada Singh, polo player Angad Kalan, fashion designer Suneet Verma and industrialist and MP Naveen Jindal, mooted this emerging trend in a panel discussion on the topic ''India @ 60: Changing Images of India in Global Media'', organised by OpenSpace-- The Jindal Foundation for Development at its launch here yesterday.

Introducing the panelists, President of the foundation, Kuchipudi dancer Shallu Jindal said, ''We've been lucky to have such a varied panel and to get a spectrum of views to be able to gauge the motley images that our country has created in global media. Right from films, sports, politics, industry and fashion, the way India is being perceived by the world has assumed an all-new dimension. Our panelists present these different images of India in their own unique way-- all arising out of a sum total of their experiences in building brand India as well as assimilating them in their own conciousness through their multifarious interfaces.'' The panelists discussed their respective roles in contributing towards a strong and contemporary image of brand India.

Mr Pilot shared his political experience, Mr Kalan talked about the new image for India that polo has created overseas, Ms Chitrangada provided her opinion on global cinema, Mr Verma brought in the fashion perspective and Mr Jindal shared his thoughts on the subject in the discussion moderated by PR Guru Dilip Cherian.

The discussion was preceded by a screening of vignettes from filmmaker Simone Ahuja's television series ''Indique- Untold Stories of Contemporary India'', which touches upon subjects such as eco-tourism, luxury travel, ayurvedic spas, burgeoning wine and fashion industries, and the national rugby team in India, providing a unique palette of images from the country for audiences abroad.

Opening the panel discussion, Mr Cherian said, ''Such films create alternative perceptions about India abroad and seek to change stereotypical images.'' Mr Pilot said there has been a positive change in the way India is portrayed in the international media over the last couple of years.

''When I was studying in the US, there used to be just snippets about India in the newspapers there. Now, things like the Indian growth story and the IT sector have found their way into the media in a big manner by way of print, internet, television and movies,'' he added.

Talking about Indian movies making a breakthrough in the international circuit, Ms Chitrangada said, ''Indian film Lagaan reached the Oscars and our movies get worldwide releases now. Also, with corporate houses like Reliance turning focus on film production, Indian films will have more money to showcase the emerging trends in Indian society.'' ''Indian women filmmakers like Mira Nair and Gurinder Chadha have been well acclaimed internationally and their movies shown in film festivals in various countries,'' she added.

Polo player Angad Kalan said even though India is not a sporting nation per se, the media can play a role in promoting sports like polo and rugby to provide an alternative to cricket. Ms Chitrangada objected to this, saying the true example of Indian sportsmen spirit is the annual 'desi' Olympics in rural Punjab, which needs to be presented before the world.

Designer Suneet Verma said there was a definite shift in perception-- from people once doubting his understanding of colour because he was an Indian to acceptance of his fashion sense abroad.

''Indian companies are now better respected abroad,'' Mr Jindal said, adding, ''Each one of us contributes in our own way to this change of image.'' Saying that we should have a nonchalant attitude towards how India is being potrayed as outside, Mr Pilot retorted, ''There are many aspects of India which need to be told and re-told. We should care little about what the world thinks about us, but pay more attention to what we think about ourselves.''


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