Nirupama stresses increasing importance of Public diplomacy in international relations

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 10, 2010 12:10 hrs

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said here on Friday that public diplomacy is the vehicle for dissemination of the ideas, interests, concepts, and the approaches that define our foreign policy.

Addressing the inaugural session of 'Public Diplomacy in the Information Age', here, Rao said: "Public diplomacy is the vehicle for dissemination of the ideas, the interests, the concepts, and the approaches that define our foreign policy and the defence of our national interest as we further our bilateral relationships and our policies in multilateral forums.

"Our public diplomacy division in the External Affairs Ministry is four years of age, but the tradition of public outreach, and interpretation of foreign policy positions to the people of India and the world beyond, is ingrained in our conditioning as diplomats who are citizens of a staunchly democratic nation," he added.

Nirupama Rao pointed out that public diplomacy relies as much on the spoken word as the written word, and said: "By the very definition of this strand of diplomacy, it depends on clarity of presentation, the ability to persuade, to influence, and to mould opinions in a manner that is not propaganda but rather presents the case for any given aspect of foreign policy in a clear manner.

"Public diplomacy is also a process of reinvention for many of us as bureaucrats - because of the value it places on communication skills and the need to feel the popular pulse," she added.

She further said that the face of Indian diplomacy is acquiring a new expression today with our growing capability to partner a number of countries in our neighbourhood, in Africa, in South-east Asia, and the Caribbean in socio-economic development.

"We see the need for audiences abroad particularly to be made more aware of our technical and economic cooperation programmes and our grant assistance and concessional Lines of Credit to a number of countries," she said.

"We have traditionally tended to adopt a fairly conservative approach towards publicising our own work and this, almost by default, leaves the field open for negative stories of which there is never a dearth," she added.

Nirupama Rao said that it was vital that India started building credible and engaging narratives about the positive work done by the country.

"These would not only provide global audiences with a perspective of the geographical spread and impact of our development partnerships but also afford our own public and Parliament with an appreciation of our activities, " he added.

Pointing out that public diplomacy was no abstract term, Nirupama Rao said: "It is a real world phenomenon, and, it overlaps with our cultural diplomacy, the promotional work that our chambers of business and industry engage in to promote Brand India, and the work of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Ministries of Culture and of Tourism." (ANI)