This December, a group of seven graduate students from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles will embark on a journey to India. We will be in New Delhi and Mumbai meeting with a range of stakeholders interested in how this global player is positioning itself to foreign and domestic audiences.
India is an ever-intriguing case study for scholars and practitioners alike because their public diplomacy program is quite new. India is also exciting to explore because the Public Diplomacy Division in the Ministry of External Affairs has been mandated to shepherd over track-two diplomacy as well– engaging with domestic as well as foreign audiences. Moving past the government, the Indian nonprofit and private sectors are beginning to play a role in conducting public diplomacy as well.
Issues like poverty, gender equality, and education have long been the domain of NGOs, but increasingly, the private sector is playing a role in tackling them. Corporate social responsibility is growing within India, and the government has been reaching out to Indian communities abroad to strengthen ties. With both sectors dedicated to advancing India, public-private partnerships are being created to accelerate the country’s development.
Our research will thus appraise the role of each of these actors: public, private, and nonprofit, as well as media and academia—and how they create the public diplomacy ecosystem in India. We will survey a wide range of ‘diplomacies’—from cultural to economic to citizen-powered initiatives—to understand how each of these is contributing to communicating the idea of India.
Indian soft power is on the rise, but with so many actors in this game, and so many strategies to choose from, it is even more important now to streamline the message of India abroad. India needs to evaluate what it stands for, the values it would like to share with others, and how to convey that message in an effective and credible way.
With that preface, the objectives of this research trip are:
1. Listen, take notes, and learn what India is really all about.
We’ll ask questions like: How do foreign publics understand India? How does that understanding (or lack thereof) inform policy towards India? How does India proactively communicate itself to the world, and what messages are most clearly being heard?
2. Assess India’s public diplomacy strategy.
Coming in with fresh perspective, we’ll offer our evaluation of what’s working, what’s not, and where future opportunities lie in conducting public diplomacy towards and from India.
3. Explain what public diplomacy means.
Why is a conversation about public diplomacy relevant to India? How can public diplomacy strategies be used to strengthen India’s role as a global player?
We invite your thoughts and questions on our project. Please subscribe to stay up to date! Each member of the India: Inside Out team will be writing on our particular research areas before our trip, our impressions of India upon our arrival, and once we’ve delved in, our analysis of what that public diplomacy ecosystem looks like.
– The India: Inside Out team