By Hend Alhinnawi
MUMBAI – In a country that is home to 55 of the world’s billionaires, it is hard to imagine that India, like many other developing countries, faces great challenges when it comes to poverty, homelessness, and development-related issues. In a nation with an estimated population of 1.21 billion, how does one go about solving these problems? Many are tempted to point the finger at the government, and while they have a responsibility to provide basic necessities to their people, I am interested in the role of civil society in addressing development challenges.
As one official at the United States Embassy in Mumbai put it: “young Indians are acutely aware that India has become a world power, and they are also aware of its shortcomings.”
Previously, I had examined India through the United Nations lens, reading reports of UN data and looking at various UN-sponsored projects. However, through the India: Inside Out trip, I was able to see the impact ordinary people are making on international development issues in India. The government has caught on to this idea, too. Navdeep Suri, Head of the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs in India, expressed that: “one way of addressing India’s development is through creating smart partnerships between the government and civil society.”
NEW DELHI – Walking through the streets of New Delhi, it is hard to resist a city with such a unique combination of old charm and modern features. Whether you’re looking for cultural, social or religious diversity, you’re sure to find it in Delhi. On December 12, 2011, New Delhi celebrated 100 years as India’s “spanking new capital.” On that same day in 1931, King George V announced the shifting of the Capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi. So, what makes New Delhi so special? For one, there are many religions represented, including Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, the Baha’i faith and Christianity. In one day, our group visited Askhardham, Jama Masjid and the Lotus Temple– all sites with magnificent structural appeal and a good story to tell.
By Hend Alhinnawi
LOS ANGELES – What is the best form of public diplomacy? It’s the type of diplomacy that promotes American values such as the right to peace and prosperity through building strong ties with people directly. United States Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Ann Stock, expressed that
“The mission of American public diplomacy is to support the achievement of U.S. foreign policy goals and objectives, advance national interests, and enhance national security by informing and influencing foreign publics and by expanding and strengthening the relationship between the people and government of the United States and citizens of the rest of the world.”
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the face of the American people overseas, and for the past 50 years, it has carried out its humanitarian mission through “saving lives, building partnerships, and promoting peace and prosperity for the developing world and the American people.”
These definitions suggest, then, that United States uses foreign aid as part of its public diplomacy strategy. USAID funds infrastructure, cultural preservation projects, public works and economic investment initiatives in many developing countries, including India. Continue reading
By Hend Alhinnawi
LOS ANGELES – Food has always been the epicenter of celebrations in my family. In Arabic, iftar is much more than a proverbial breaking of bread, it’s a chance to connect with the community, an opportunity to bury the hatchet, and an excuse to eat until you sweat, my personal favorite. Growing up in California, and in a diverse community, I enjoyed home-cooked Indian dishes, courtesy of my mother’s friends. I remember learning about India’s history and subsequently falling in love with its diverse culture and folklore, all over dinner. In retrospect, that was gastrodiplomacy at work.
Blogger Paul Rockower describes gastrodiplomacy as a way to use “culinary delights to appeal to global appetites, and thus helps raise a nation’s brand awareness and reputation.” The Indian dishes served all around Los Angeles are a large part of India’s public diplomacy because they are closely related to India’s rich history, diverse regions and religions. A single bite, robust with the different spices and flavors, captivates the essence of India’s spirit and culture.