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Conference on Information Age in public diplomacy to highlight impact of 24x7 media

By One India

New Delhi, Dec.9 (ANI): People-to-people diplomacy is playing an important role in international relations in the contemporary global world, adding a new dimension to international relations and redefining the way a country engages with its citizens to garner support for its foreign policy and national interests.

To better understand how public diplomacy in the new millennium has gone beyond traditional diplomacy and to understand its role and relevance in the changing communication and media scenario, the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs has organized a two-day conference the Le-Meridien Hotel here titled "Public Diplomacy in the Information Age".

Giving details about the conference, Mr. Navdeep Suri, Joint Secretary (Public Diplomacy) in the Ministry of External Affairs, told ANI over phone, "The emergence of 24/7 media has dramatically reduced the response time available to official spokespersons and public diplomacy professionals."

He further said: "Governments around the world are trying to deal with the challenge posed by what one media expert calls 'the tyranny of real time'. We hope that the presence of leading international media scholars and practitioners at our conference will provide some useful outcomes for all of us."

Commenting on the key changes in the way diplomacy was practiced in the past and how it is practiced now, Mr. Suri said: " The emergence of powerful non-state actors like corporates and NGOs, the proliferation of traditional media like radio and TV and the growing strength of new media make it imperative for diplomacy to move beyond the traditional framework of government to government relations and look at public diplomacy as a means of engaging with a much broader cross-section of actors."

On how he saw the role of new media impacting the two significant and specific streams of corporate diplomacy and the use of diplomacy in promoting nation branding, Mr. Suri told ANI: "We have seen in the Indian context that business chambers like CII and FICCI and industry associations like Nasscom have played an important role in promoting India's image and interests. This makes them important partners of our public diplomacy efforts."

He added: "Nation branding is a concept that is getting a fair bit of attention in some quarters. As India's importance grows on the international stage, it is useful to look at the kind of image of India that we want to project. It becomes especially important for a country like India to leverage its soft power assets in promoting its image."

Describing new media as relevant to all facets of public diplomacy, Mr. Suri said that he found its use attractive for three main reasons viz: (1) Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are powerful and low cost channels of communication and should be used effectively to put forth our perspective; (2) New media tends to be interactive. This provides you feedback, gives you a chance to listen to your audience and develop an engagement with them. This is crucial for successful public diplomacy. It also improves the interface between government and citizens and (3) It's a great way to reach out to the internet savvy youth which is going to be an increasingly important part of our demographics.

Spread over two days - December 10 and 11, the conference will have five sessions on Day One and three on Day Two, during which it will highlight both the challenges and opportunities provided by the proliferation of media along with new media tools, and how it has changed the way diplomacy is practiced by both practitioners and scholars.

The seminar will be graced by a number of eminent speakers, including Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Member of Parliament representing Thiruvananthapuram, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Professor Nicholas J Cull, Professor of Public Diplomacy and Director, Masters Program in Public Diplomacy, Annenberg School of Communication, University of South Carolina, Dr. Philip Seib, Professor of Journalism and Public Diplomacy and Director, Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California, Nik Gowing, Chief Presenter, BBC and Professor Eytan Gilboa, Director, Center for International Communication, Bar-IIan University, Israel.

Public Diplomacy in a Globalised World; 21st Century Statecraft and Soft Power; 24x7 News and Public Diplomacy; Web 2.0 and the new Public Diplomacy and the impact of Corporate Diplomacy will be the topics dealt with on the first day of the conference.

On the second day, Professor Gilbao will speak about planning and evaluating public diplomacy, with an emphasis on strategies and programmes.

Dr. Seib will dwell on the topic of how new global media is reshaping world politics in the 21st century.

The conference shall conclude with Professor Cull speaking about the concept of nation branding. (ANI)

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