One of my consistent arguments in this blog is that for public diplomacy to be effective it is important to be backed by an effective communications strategy. What I also mean by this is that not all PD programs can be/necessarily be like a communications campaign, but, there are communications implications (potential?) nonetheless of any PD program.
What is the story that we want to tell?
An interesting story carried today by Hindustan Times, quoted UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, to a question on how much difference was made to the fight against HIV by cheaper drugs made available from India,
"In 2001, no one had access to treatment. Now 86% of drugs given to poor people are from India. Within 10 years of setting the goal to provide treatment to all, 6.6 million people were on antiretroviral therapy (drugs used to treat HIV infection) at the end of 2010, a nearly 22-fold increase since 2001"He also said,
"We need new partnerships between India and Africa to transfer technology to help African countries make cheaper Aids drugs"
This statement is important when seen in the context of the recent summit level meetings between India and Africa. This is also a great story that talks a lot about India's scientific prowess, business prowess in the context of drug companies and is also a significant political issue when we consider trade and business issues in the context of global pharmaceutical industry. Does having a communications strategy in place help exploit the potential of such stories - that are so intertwined in politics, diplomacy & human issues of global nature?
The argument for a communications strategy have recently found support in the article "Making public diplomacy work: The need for an effective communications strategy", in the Journal of International Communication, Volume 17, Issue 1, April 2011, by Amit Dasgupta. Dasgupta, who is the current Consul General of India in Sydney and former head of Public Diplomacy division in the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India (2007-09) says,
"In many countries, such as India, foreign policy formulation and practice has, till recently, been the exclusive reserve of professional diplomats. Such countries are new entrants to the world of public diplomacy and have begun to recognize the importance of engaging with non-State players. However, the success of public diplomacy lies entirely in the efficacy of the communication strategy it adopts."