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Corporate India and New Public Diplomacy

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This year’s list of “The Forbes Global 2000 – the biggest and most powerful listed companies in the world” includes 56 Indian companies. What stood out in the list released by the US business magazine is that global dominance of the developed world in the corporate world is declining. Apart from the 56 Indian companies, 113 Chinese companies too found a place in the list.

Corporate India has become a major non state actor shaping perceptions about the country. With the recent scholarship in Public Diplomacy moving away from the narrow traditional state-centric conception of public diplomacy to include a range of non-state actors with some standing in international politics and economics, the role and potential of Indian companies in shaping foreign public opinion needs a more focused attention. How do these impact the overall public diplomacy efforts of India? With the democratization of information through uncontrolled media like internet, non state actors have been greatly empowered and also gained legitimacy hitherto unprecedented in international affairs.

Consider these recent developments and the consequent ‘messages that can be laundered’:

From innovation, ambition, creating value to strong regulatory frameworks and good corporate governance the themes for messaging are many. And we haven’t even talked of IT/ITeS! There are many more such examples across sectors. How do we plan to communicate all this? Corporate India by its successes overseas also builds India’s political capital and influence. Hence, there is also a need for the state to push towards strategic industries in strategic markets. Non-state actors have to be strategically incorporated into an overall public diplomacy strategy.

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur
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