Shashi Tharoor to speak at public diplomacy conference

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 08, 2010 12:50 hrs

New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS) Once criticised for his habit of tweeting on serious policy issues, Shashi Tharoor has now been invited to speak Friday at a conference on public diplomacy organised by the external affairs ministry in which he was a junior minister till a few months ago.

With 24x7 news channels setting public agenda and new age media influencing discourse on key global issues, the ministry is organising a day-long conference Friday and a workshop the next day where experts would focus on soft power and public diplomacy.

Tharoor, who will speak on 21st century statecraft and soft power, is expected to focus on the use of new age media like social networking site Twitter in connecting to the people over foreign policy and public issues.

The invite to Tharoor, Lok Sabha member and a member of the parliamentary standing committee on external affairs, shows that the ministry has embraced new age media as an integral part of its communications strategy.

Tharoor earned a massive following on Twitter with his pithy and pointed comments on policy issues, but the use of tweeting was decried by many in the government when he was the minister of state for external affairs.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao will deliver the ketnote address at the seminar. Nicholas J. Cull, professor of public diplomacy at Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California (USC), will speak on the concept of nation branding.

Philip Seib, professor of journalism and public diplomacy at the USC, Eytan Gilbao of Israel and Nick Gowing of BBC will also be speaking at the event.

The conference is the brainchild of Navdeep Suri, joint secretary (public diplomacy) in the ministry.

'We hope the conference will create a greater awareness of the importance of public diplomacy as an integral part of the foreign policy,' Suri told IANS.

Suri, who was the driving force behind putting the external affairs ministry on Twitter and (social networking site) Facebook, said the new media helped connect to a new generation of internet-savvy youth.

'We hope to advance a more informed discourse on foreign policy. If you are not present in that space, you don't exist for them,' he said.

Those not attending the conference can access the speakers on the live webcast at http://www.publicdiplomacy2010.in or www.indiandiplomacy.in.