By Maya Babla
LOS ANGELES – After months of planning, the India: Inside Out team is finally off to India. We’re arriving in Delhi this weekend! Next week will be jam-packed, and we’re thrilled for the adventure ahead. I’ve highlighted some of the meetings we will be attending below, and encourage you, our readers, to submit any questions you might have for these organizations in the Comments section. We’ll be blogging as much as possible over the next two weeks, and tweeting, too, so stay tuned (or Subscribe on the right).
Our research will kick off with discussions at the Public Diplomacy Division in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), where we’ll talk with Navdeep Suri, the Joint Secretary and Head of the Public Diplomacy Division, and Abhay Kumar, the Under Secretary. Later in the week, we’ll talk with Dr. Shashi Tharoor, a Member of Parliament and thought-leader on public diplomacy. We’re interested in India’s push towards a more transparent and connected government, and will be meeting with the Director of E-Governance, Abhishek Singh, at the Department of Information Technology. We’ll also be meeting with Amit Shahi and Sudhir Horo, the team at theIdeaWorks who are behind India! Future of Change, which functions as part of a public-private partnership model in India’s public diplomacy. Funded entirely through seed money and theIdeaWorks, IFC “promises to take India to the world” through contests and collaborative projects focused on young people.
I see India’s ability to manage its development– education and gender equity, in particular– as a key challenge for its public diplomacy. We’ll be meeting with nonprofit organizations that are doing some compelling work in these arenas, in particular, the head of Sesame Workshop India, Sashwati Banerjee, and Harsh Mander and Rachel Firestone at the Centre for Equity Studies. The Centre for Equity Studies is an interesting model in that it does both research and advocacy on social justice issues, and we’re eager to hear how these areas intersect. Our meeting with Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP) also brings together many of our interest areas, as WISCOMP seeks to “enhance the role of women as peacebuilders.” There, we’ll be talking with Manjri Sewak, who works on programs that train women to work in areas like conflict transformation between India and Pakistan.
Finally, we’ll be looking at how other countries conduct public diplomacy in India, and how effective their efforts are. We’re looking forward to speaking with the team at the United States Embassy, including PAO Michael Pelletier, Greg Aurit, Adele Rupe, and Kathryn Viguerie from USAID.
Let the Delhi adventure begin!