Vital Information

National Portal of India

  • Capital - New Delhi
  • Population - 1,147,995,898 (July 2008 estimate)
  • Government – Federal Republic
    • President Pratibha Patil (since 25 July 2007)
    • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (since 22 May 2004)



Home of the world's largest democracy and a rapidly expanding economy, India finds itself in an increasingly important position to influence both world affairs and regional politics. The nation’s technology sector continues to boom, and with the largest English-speaking population in the world, India is in prime position to continue expanding its international presence. Particularly as India presses for inclusion as a permanent member of the United Nations security council, the nation's international image has become especially salient in its pursuit of political goals on a global scale. With the scope and rapidity of India’s evolution, the government has recognized the need to broadcast the nation’s achievements to the world, and is consequently granting greater attention and resources to public diplomacy initiatives and programs.

Government Agencies

Ministry of External Affairs: Public Diplomacy Division

In May of 2006, India’s Ministry of External Affairs established a new Public Diplomacy Office aimed to “educate and influence global and domestic opinion on key policy issues and project a better image of the country commensurate with its rising international standing.” [1]Closely modeled after the U.S. State Department’s approach to public diplomacy, the department will attempt to “sensitize and influence think tanks, universities, media and experts to create a more nuanced understanding of the government’s stance on tricky issues” [2]. The overarching goal of the division corresponds with India’s efforts to earn a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, and aims to ultimately portray the nation as a rising power of undeniable international significance and influence.

Indian Council for Cultural Relations

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), established by the government in 1950, is responsible for augmenting India’s international reputation through cultural promotion and exchange. Priding itself on representing India’s “preeminent instrument of cultural diplomacy,” the Council manages a wide range of programs in line with the following goals: [3]

  • to participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs relating to India’s external cultural relations
  • to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries
  • to promote cultural exchange with other countries and people
  • to establish and develop relations with national and international organizations in the field of culture
  • to take up such measures as may be required to further these objectives

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations maintains centers around the world to promote international awareness and understanding of Indian culture.

With cultural centers in twenty countries, the specifics of the ICCR’s activities vary according to the cultural dynamics of the local population, but frequently include the activities such as the following: [4]

  • Administration of scholarship programs for overseas students on behalf of the Government of India
  • Exchange of cultural exhibitions
  • Organization of and participation in seminars and symposia
  • Exchange of performing arts groups
  • Establishing and maintaining Chairs and Professorships for Indian Studies Abroad
  • Presentation of books and musical instruments
  • Organization of lectures and essay competitions on behalf of the Ministry of External Affairs
  • Distribution of a publications including six quarterly journals in five different languages (Indian Horizons, Africa Quarterly, Gagananchal, Papeles de la India, Reconctre Avec l’Inde, and Thaqafat-ul-Hind) and a number of books on a wide range of subjects relating to Indian culture. The Council also produced media material, namely DVDs and CDs, on Indian dance and music.
  • Maintaining Indian Cultural Centers abroad and supporting special bilateral programs

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations enagages in a wide variety of public diplomacy efforts, incuding the publication of six quartery journals in five different languages.

  • Hosting the Incoming and Outgoing Distinguished Visitors Programs, which bring together “eminent scholars [from diverse fields] and distinguished personalities from all over the world to facilitate their interaction with institutions and audiences in India.”

In addition to an ongoing schedule of events, the ICCR’s Centers also maintain libraries, reading rooms, and audio-visual collections for their international visitors. The networking function of the Council is equally important, with particular emphasis placed on “developing and maintaining contacts with the local citizens, particularly students, teachers, academicians, opinion-makers and cultural personalities to project a holistic picture of India’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.” [5]

Media Relations

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

All India Radio broadcasts internationally to over 100 countries in 27 languages. Its national programs cover 24 languages and 146 dialects.

In recognition of the fundamental role of media in today’s technological world, the Indian government has taken advantage of international media outlets in order to promote the image and interests of India abroad. The government’s strategic use of the media is managed primarily by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which is “responsible for international cooperation in the field of mass media, films and broadcasting, and interacts with its foreign counterparts on behalf of the Government of India” [6]. The official mandate of the Ministry is defined according to the following range of responsibilities, most of which are managed by directorates of the Ministry:

  • News Service through All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD).
    • All India Radio is one of India’s most visible media initiatives, broadcasting both nationally and abroad. Reflecting the nation’s diversity, AIR’s internal services cover 24 languages and 146 dialects. Its external services, which aim to project a positive political and cultural image of India abroad as well as to connect with India’s international Diaspora, reach over 100 countries in 27 languages with daily broadcasts. [7]
  • Development of broadcasting and television
  • Import and export of films
  • Development and promotion of the film industry
    • The Ministry’s Films Division was established in 1948 and has since collected and housed a comprehensive record of India’s cinema history. Its archives currently contain 8,000 titles on a broad range of subjects, and include documentaries, short films and animation films in its archives. The organization also aims to be “not merely a store-house of this legacy, but also an active participant in making it,” by providing equipment and facilities to aid Indian filmmakers. [8]
  • Organization of film festivals and cultural exchanges
    • The Ministry’s Directorate of Film Festivals, established in 1973, organizes and manages India’s involvement in a number of international film festivals and cinema events. Its overarching mission is to “promote international friendship, provide access to new trends in world cinema, generate healthy competition and in the process, help to improve the standards of Indian Cinema.” [9]
    • Film diplomacy has been particularly important in improving India-Pakistan relations. As of 2008, the Pakistani government was allowing more Indian films to enter the country, representing “a huge advance from the era when there was a ban on any film that had an Indian actor in the lead role or was not shot 100 per cent outside India.” The exchange of films between the two countries has gradually increased, with the success of the imported films encouraging further “softening” of government film policies. [2]
  • Advertisement and visual publicity on behalf of the government of India

    State-sponsored film festivals both in India and abroad showcase Indian culture.

    • The Directorate of Field Publicity is responsible for the promotion of government policies and participation within India through a variety of publicity techniques including film shows, song and drama, photo exhibitions, group discussions, seminars, symposia, rallies and various competitions like debates, drawing, rural sports etc. According to the Directorate, “all these programs are targeted specially for the welfare of the people and to educate the masses, particularly those living in the rural and tribal areas. The DFP is also mandated to promote the people’s participation in the development activities, particularly at the grassroots level, and to provide a forum to the people to express their views and reactions on the various national programs and project the feedback to the Government.” [10]
    • The Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) produces multimedia advertising and publicity for the government and its policies. Applying a number of different promotional techniques including print advertising, exhibitions and outdoor publicity events, the DAVP’s campaigns largely focus on issues of local and national importance such as national unity, health care, rural development, and social welfare, among others. [11]
  • Handling of press relations to present the policies of the Government of India and to get feedback on government policies
    • Among the Ministry’s media units, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) is the most prominent, acting as “the nodal agency of the Government of India to disseminate information to the print and electronic media on its various policies and programs.” With eight regional offices and thirty-five branch offices, the PIB’s media and public relations responsibilities include the accreditation of Indian and foreign media representatives, the organization of press briefings and conferences, relaying feedback to the government regarding the press and public opinion, and the hosting of workshops and training sessions. In addition, the Principal Information Officer serves as Media Advisor to the government. [12](For more information see Press Information Bureau).
  • Dissemination of information about India within and outside the country through publications on matters of national importance
    • The Publications Division serves as one of the leading publishing houses in India, producing books and journals aimed at highlighting India’s cultural and political heritage. With publications touching virtually every subject from art and culture to politics and science, the Division “holds the exclusive mandate for preserving national heritage and disseminating information through the production and sale of low price, quality reading material,” and has published over 7,600 titles to date. [13]
  • Research, reference, and training to assist the media units of the Ministry to meet their responsibilities
  • The Research, Reference, and Training division provides reference materials on matters of national importance. These include biographical profiles of eminent figures, the publication of two reference annuals (“India- A Reference Annual” and “Mass Media in India”), the maintenance of a reference library, and the provision of relevant material relating to upcoming celebrations and events. [14]
  • Use of interpersonal communication and traditional folk art forms for information/publicity campaigns on public interest issues
  • International cooperation in the field of information and mass media

Other Public Diplomacy Efforts

Brand India

Brand India, is managed by India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), a partnership between the

IBEF aims to promote India's economic advatages and incentives for investment.

Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, and the Confederation of Indian Industry. The Foundation's “primary objective is to build positive economic perceptions of India globally. It aims to effectively present the India business perspective and leverage business partnerships in a globalizing market-place.” [15] To this end the Foundation has developed a number of promotional campaigns, including brochures, films, print ads, and panels which emphasize India’s strong economy and encourage national and international investment. The brand itself aims to present a cohesive and appealing image to the global marketplace:

IBEF produces a wide variety of promotional materials, such as this poster portraying India as a manufacturing superpower.

India fastest growing free market democracy is representative of the emergent realities in business and industry. At the same time, it also conveys a cohesive and unifying message about India's competitive advantage, one that most people easily identify with. The brand portrays the distinctive qualities of all things Indian and has the dynamism to build an enduring reputation in the competitive global arena.
This is India in the 21st century...Rapid all round growth…Globalization… Leading on the Strength of Intellectual Capital and the unbridled Spirit of Entrepreneurship...Democracy… the Permission and Right to be Different… the Synthesis of Structure and Non-linearity… that together fuel the Quest for Knowledge and provide the Impetus to Growth. [16]

Diaspora Programs

With an estimated 30 million Indians living abroad, particular attention has been paid to efforts aimed at encouraging dialogue in the international Indian community for the benefit of the nation’s interests. Recognizing “the importance of the Indian Diaspora as it has brought economic, financial, and global benefits to India,” the government has initiated a number of programs focusing on outreach to Indians abroad. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, or “Diaspora Day,” is major annual event that encourages the involvement of the Diaspora community in the development of their homeland:

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas aims at bringing the expertise and knowledge of the Indian overseas community to India and integrating it into India’s development process. [The event] is focused on highlighting networking opportunities and collaborating to confer a mutual development platform. Generating this synergy to excel together towards a bright India along with the Indian overseas community is what Pravasi Bharatiya Divas proclaims with its head held high. [17]

Efforts to connect the Indian community living abroad include a number of programs and events, such as the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which focuses on involving Indians abroad in the development of their homeland.

The event involves a number of activities bringing together representatives from around the world. In 2007 1,200 delegates from over 50 countries attended lectures and discussions on a wide range of topics, and worked on projects such as the establishment of an “Overseas Indian Facilitation Center” to promote investment by overseas Indian investors to India. [18] In addition to Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the government also hosts the Know India Program (KIP) through the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. KIP focuses on connecting the younger generation of Indians living abroad to Indian heritage and culture:

The Know India Program, also known as the Internship Program for Indian Diaspora (IPDY)…is a three to four week comprehensive orientation program organized by the Ministry twice or thrice in a year, including one with Pravasi Bharatiya Divas that is held every year around 9 January. The Know India Program provides a unique forum to students and young professionals of Indian origin to visit India and share their views, expectations and experiences. Youth Festivals and Cultural Camps are organized to bond the students closely with contemporary India. [19]


Tourism promotion campaigns emphasize India's rich cultural heritage to draw in international visitors.

Making the most of India’s rich diversity, the government’s Ministry of Tourism shapes tourism promotion according to the most appealing and interesting experiences India has to offer. Promoted sectors include Heritage sites, Ecotourism, Spiritual Pilgrimages, and Luxury vacations. Spiritual experiences are particularly popular as a result of India's rich religious history and significance for Hinduism and Buddism, and the Ministry of Tourism draws on the appeal of religious sites and holy cities in targeted campaigns.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

Sports Diplomacy

India’s use of sport as a diplomatic tool garnered particular attention in its relations with Pakistan. The two nations, which had long sparred over religion, ideology, and military conflict, engaged in what was quickly labeled “cricket diplomacy” during the 2004 India-Pakistan test cricket series. At the time, Prime Minister Singh declared that “Nothing brings the people of the subcontinent together more than our love for cricket and Bollywood” [20]. The competition was seen by both sides as an assertion of national pride and identity, yet the attitude of good sportsmanship that pervaded the event became an important symbol of cooperation between the nations. In March of 2004, an article in the Washington Post captured the spirit of cricket diplomacy’s success:

Indian cricket fans in Bangalore wear the national colors of India and Pakistan. "Cricket diplomacy" became a symbol of cooperation between the two nations following years of tension.

Thousands of Indian fans, armed with special short-stay "cricket visas," have traveled in the past 10 days to Karachi, Rawalpindi, Lahore and even Peshawar--only a missile's lob away from the lawless tribal regions where Pakistani soldiers are gunning it out with a Taliban/al Qaeda rump. They've painted their faces in India's national colors, waved the Indian flag under the very noses of Pakistanis, and cheered lustily for their team in Pakistani stadiums--where they have been vastly outnumbered, naturally, by the home supporters. To date, not a single instance of assault on an Indian fan has been reported, nor one example of abuse, hostility, or even inhospitable grumbling by home fans. More remarkably, given the Pakistani crowds' traditional antagonism toward visiting Indian teams--previous tours have been marred by crowd trouble; and on the last tour, in 1989, a Muslim fundamentalist spectator ran onto the field in Karachi and assaulted the Indian captain--the crowds this time have been as civilized as an audience at Bayreuth (if a little more raucous). The Pakistani spectators have cheered the

Indian players on, applauding them even on occasions when their own side was losing; and the Pakistani public has extended such a warm embrace to fans from across the border that many Indians--according to reports in the Delhi newspapers--are finding it difficult to encounter restaurateurs and taxi drivers who will accept their money. You are our guests, they've been told, again and again. We cannot charge you. The public mood reflects not merely weariness with the seemingly unending conflict between the two countries; it reveals, also, a genuine political optimism, the result of the recent rapprochement between Islamabad and Delhi. It was this summit-level warming, of course, that laid the ground for the Indian cricket team to visit. And given the passion for the game on the subcontinent, it was the Indian government's willingness to let the cricketers tour Pakistan that convinced Pakistanis that Delhi's apparent conciliatoriness was sincere. No more proof of India's good faith was needed. [21]

Bollywood Diplomacy

The home of the busiest film industry is no longer Hollywood – it’s Bollywood, and India is making the most of its public diplomacy potential. The distinct style of cinema, which blends over-the-top plotlines with lavish song and dance numbers, has long been seen as India’s most extravagant cultural export, but in recent years it has become both a symbol and a tool of India’s cultural diplomacy. In 2008, Pakistan, which has long been at political odds with India, lifted a 43-year ban on Hindi films, establishing a more open cultural exchange between the two nations. [22]The decision was met with some controversy, particularly by “Pakistan's jihadis and religious conservatives, who frown on Bollywood's song-dance culture [and] have even opposed the sari, not only because it is regarded as "Hindu" but also because it - in their eyes at least - reveals too much of a woman's body.”[23] Overall the move was seen as a expression of faith in the normalization of India-Pakistan relations. Beyond Pakistan the genre has also been enjoying increased attention, recently spurring a Bollywood craze in Western entertainment. In the summer of 2008, American rapper Snoop Dogg announced his participation in a major Bollywood production: A fusion of hip-hop and bhangra with a simple chorus, [the film] features Snoop Dogg giving “what up to all the ladies hanging out in Mumbai” and rapping about “Ferraris, Bugattis and Maseratis.” [24]


This fusion of Western and Indian styles is becoming increasingly popular, a trend that has been pushed forward with events such as the Unforgettable Tour, which featured nearly four-hours of song, dance and monologues by prominent Bollywood artists. Starting in Canada, the tour traveled through the United States, with tickets selling for between $65 to $200. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, a Bollywood star who has been known internationally as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” participated in the event, saying, "Suddenly we've become the talk of the world…(India) is looked up as a future destination. I'm not the first from our part of the world to work on the international platform, but I'm glad to be part of the group that is catalyzing the movement." [25]

Continuing Obstacles and Conclusion

India growing visibility in international politics and economics will bring new pressures as well as new opportunities for its Public Diplomacy efforts.

India seems certain to hold an undeniably powerful role in the future of international politics, particularly as its economy continues to expand at such a rapid rate. As it moves further into the spotlight, however, the nation will surely be forced to confront diplomatic obstacles, particularly in light of its efforts to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Increased attention may prove a double edged sword for the nation, as the world is becoming increasingly aware not only of the nation’s most appealing offerings, like its rich cultural heritage and growing economy, but also of its widespread social problems. Public Diplomacy will therefore become increasingly important to India’s ability to shape a positive public perception of the nation, not on at the international level but also in the great diversity within India itself. Already the government has demonstrated a willingness to use tools such as the media to augment its presence at home and abroad, and as it pursues its political goals the world will most likely see a great increase in the scope and intensity of India’s public diplomacy efforts.

Further Reading

Government Agencies

Private & International Organizations

International Broadcasting & News Organizations

Publications, Articles & Commentary

Public Opinion Polls & Statistics


Other Resources


  1. "India." CIA World Factbook. 24 July 2008. CIA. 28 Jul 2008 <>.
  2. • "India launches public diplomacy office." The Times of India 05 May 2006 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  3. • "About Us." 2006. Indian Council for Cultural Relations. 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  4. • "About Us." 2006. Indian Council for Cultural Relations. 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  5. • "About Us." 2006. Indian Council for Cultural Relations. 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  6. • Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  7. "External Services." AIR. 09 July 2008. All India Radio. 28 July 2008 <>
  8. "Films Division." Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India. 4 Aug 2008 <>.
  9. "About Us." Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India. 4 Aug 2008 <>.
  10. "About Us." Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India. 4 Aug 2008 <>.
  11. "About Us." Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India. 4 Aug 2008 <>.
  12. • Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  13. "About Us." Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India. 4 Aug 2008 <>.
  14. "About Us." Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India. 4 Aug 2008 <>.
  15. "About Us." IBEF. 2008. India Brand Equity Foundation. 4 Aug 2008 <>.
  16. "About Us." IBEF. 2008. India Brand Equity Foundation. 4 Aug 2008 <>.
  17. • "Pravasi Bharatiya Divas." National Portal of India. 2007. Government of India. 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  18. • "Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2007." Annual Report 2007. 2007. Government of India. 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  19. • "Know India Programme." National Portal of India. 2005. Government of India. 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  20. "India Tries Cricket Diplomacy." International Herald Tribune 11 Mar 2005 4 Aug 2008 <>.
  21. • Varadarajan , Tunku. "Cricket Diplomacy: India and Pakistan Celebrate Their Weapons of Mass Destruction." The Wall Street Journal 25 March 2004 29 Jul 2008 <>.
  22. • Ramachandran , Sudha. "The Curtain Lifts for Bollywood in Pakistan." Asia Times Online 08 Feb 2008 30 Jul 2008 <>.
  23. • Ramachandran , Sudha. "The Curtain Lifts for Bollywood in Pakistan." Asia Times Online 08 Feb 2008 30 Jul 2008 <>.
  24. • Timmons, Heather. "India's New Partnership - Bollywood and Hip-Hop." The New York Times 28 July 2008 30 Jul 2008 <>.
  25. Dooley, Tara. "Planet Bollywood comes to Houston." Houston Chronicle (2008) 4 Aug 2008 <>.
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