India’s Digital Diplomacy: Unveiling Brand Building & Public Policy

Session Report
Prasangana Paul

IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted an Online International Autumn School Program, a One-Month Immersive Online Certificate Training Course on Diplomacy and Foreign Policy in November 2023.IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies.

This Course, spread over a month, introduced the participants to the complex world of global affairs, understanding principle and practices of diplomacy, international negotiation, defence and foreign policy formulation. It initiated dialogue on the fundamentals and core values of diplomacy and foreign policy and gave an insight to the participants on complex international relations.

On the 3rd Day our speaker, Dr Parama Sinhapalit, Adjunct Senior Fellow, at Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore opened the discussion by talking about the rise of Digital and Tech Diplomacy in International Relations.

Overview of the Presentation

Dr. Palit presented a PPT on Digital and Tech Diplomacy in International Relations. Her PPT briefed us on India’s Digital Public Diplomacy and Brand Building Efforts, Social Media Enabled Public Diplomacy, Social Media Deployed Communication and Brand Building, The Nation as a Brand, What do Brand Building Achieve for the Countries? How is India Communicating its Brand?

What is Social Media Enabled Public Diplomacy?

Dr Palit took us on the route of how India has utilized its G20 Presidency to brand itself. She also mentioned that “Brand Building” exercise deploy social media, which is also linked to the larger ambit of soft power. Digital Diplomacy has placed Public in the communication network, traditionally Public Diplomacy circled around foreign audience and diaspora but with ICT revolution the domestic constituency has become a target of the Public Diplomacy.

She mentioned that since 2015 Indian government has taken important steps in developing its social media assets. It has developed separate social media handles for all the ministries and they have been quite successful in reaching out to the public. Conveying the idea of “New India”. 

Social Media Deployed Communication and Brand Building

In this broad topic Dr Palit, underlines Indian political leadership’s adoption of social media for communicating with the digital public. She gave an example like, Twitter or Facebook being extensively employed by Indian Political parties and their leaders to broadcast information on a world wide stream, not just to their subscribers but to anybody who wants to join the ongoing deliberations.

Social media platforms become more prominent during elections. In fact, she states that many are saying that the 2024 elections will be an election of the influences. She says that this is not restricted to India only, we can also see UK , Brazil , Indonesia, Malaysia etc deploying the same tactics.

The Nation Becomes a Brand

She shows us the list of countries which are major brand themselves. Dr Palit mentions that consistent narration is necessary as national images are cognitive schemes that take time to change or take shape and states that events must be interpreted and presented through the values and norms to a nation’s heritage. She briefs us about 4 Nation Brand as well, namely USA, Australia, UK and Singapore.

What do Brand Building Achieve for Countries?

Dr Palit highlights 3 important points in this context. She states “Good country branding” attract- trade, tourist and investment and points that branding has therefore become a national priority, and managing relationships with each other has gradually emerged as a central paradigm in international relations.

How is India Communicating its Brand?

Lastly, she says India is aggressively building its brand, utilizing the digital tools. The goal is to project its strength, whether economic, cultural or its status as a major player in world politics. G20 presidency provided an opportunity to promote itself internationally. In this context she talks about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Chess Olympiad, G20, Make in India Campaign.

She shows us 3 videos revolving around the G20 baton held by India and these videos gave us an idea of the intent of the government and help us understand how these are being employed to communicate with the public both domestic and on international level. The video successfully weaving the Indian image to its heritage and transform the image of India being a poverty stricken country to a powerful world player in International Relations.

India’s moment in the Sun, Short Lived?

In the end she left us with a food for thought question asking us to ponder if the glory is short lived in the context of India-Canada relations and a raging war- Israel Palestine Conflict.

Conclusion

Dr Palit took up a few questions and the session was overall very interactive and engaging. She concluded by introducing her new book launch, New Media and Public Diplomacy, Political Communication in India, The United States and China. Dr Palit’s lecture gave us a deep insight into the world of Public Diplomacy and the mechanics of it. Branding and Public Diplomacy plays an important role in the international stature.

Posted by Riya Kumari Shah, a research Intern at IMPRI.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

Soft Skills and Diplomacy
Nuts and Bolts of Diplomacy

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