By Jessica Castillo
LOS ANGELES – The world’s population is now 7 billion people…and counting. Out of 7 billion people, 1.2 billion are in India; about 22 million in Delhi and 20 million in Mumbai. 7 billion is indeed an incredible number to think about, in terms of resources, environment, and stabilization. But this incredible number of people on our planet should caution us to think now more than ever, about who those 7 billion are. Where do they live? What do they need? Who do they listen to, talk to and depend on?
My hypothesis is that trust has a key role to play in public diplomacy. I recently attended two conferences, one on U.S. -Mexico Border Issues and another on Crisis and Issues Communication Management. Though each focused on completely different issues, both seemed to refer heavily to the notion of trust: the need for a government to earn the trust of its citizens in order to find sustainable solutions to problems, and the need for businesses or organizations to earn the trust of its stakeholders in order to mitigate the often long-term devastating impact that crises can have on everyone involved. Trust is built up over time by demonstrating goodwill, communicating frequently to constituents, encouraging participation, and responding to feedback and suggestions. Once cultivated, a reservoir of goodwill and trust can be relied upon when that one incident, crisis, sudden problem (or unrelenting one) can test people’s buy-in and commitment to a certain business, NGO or government. The common thread in each conference and on each topic was the vitality of communicating to one’s stakeholders to generate a sense of buy-in, commitment and support in times of need.
If India’s public diplomacy mission includes a mandate to communicate with its own citizens as well as foreign publics, then it must be able to cultivate trust amongst Indians. Continue reading
By Jessica Castillo
LOS ANGELES – Some are calling it, ‘the great migration’, a ‘rural exodus’, or simply… ‘urbanization’. It is the movement of people around the world into urban centers that has both pros and cons and sparks a flurry of debate in favor and opposition of such movement. For many, this transition is a necessity. Rapid development and industrialization have forced the movement of populations into cities in an effort to replace the loss of rural occupations. For others, the transition offers new opportunities for business, education and eventual quality of life improvements. In India, this transformation is increasingly apparent as 2011 census data indicate that urban population has increased by 91 million. A BBC story in late September offered critique of this finding, pointing to the detrimental effects on India’s cities and the inability to cope with urban population demands. But what do these transitions really mean for India?
When I think of India, I think ‘vibrant’. I think ‘cultural’. I think ‘diverse’. While I am certain that I am not alone in my perceptions, there persists another set of assumptions about the nation. At last week’s Zocalo Public Square talk “Is India Rich or Poor?”, author Patrick French discussed these assumptions that often dominate the spectrum of foreign audiences’ knowledge of India: India is poor, spiritual, and continually associated with Pakistan. Other common negative ideas of India that emerged from the discussion are that it lacks infrastructure, and perpetuates class inequities. Where are these perceptions coming from? And why do they dominate the conversations surrounding an emerging market where the economy has seen such significant gains in the last decade?