India’s giant step into modern digital diplomacy.

We are living in a period of significant technological advances, which are rapidly shaping how our society works and interacts. Digital technology has altered the way social relations are conducted and also how states manage governance internally. The use of such technologies, as well as the rise of social medias, have drastically impacted diplomatic practices, in terms of how they communicate with the public, release information and interact with diplomats.[1] As a result of this wide spread of technological advances, a new form of diplomacy has emerged, that has taken the name of digital diplomacy which is a form of public diplomacy that involves the implementation of digital technologies and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and others by states or heads of state as well as High Representatives to communicate with foreign publics.[2]

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Therefore, foreign ministries and diplomats in order to keep up with the world’s new dynamics and advances are compelled to adapt to an ever-growing digital society.           In recent years Indian diplomacy has taken a revolutionary step especially the Indian Foreign Office (MEA), into what we now call digital diplomacy, which is currently spreading more than ever.A significant example is the launch of a revolutionary App called ‘MEAIndia’ under the initiative of the Indian Foreign Ministry Office. The App can be downloaded for free on both Android and Apple app stores, and constitutes a virtual platform providing help and assistance on diplomatic related issues. [3]

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.07.50
Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 16.19.21The wide range of services offered by the App includes:

  • Providing consular assistance to passport and visa queries.
  • Interacting with your Minister through the App at anytime and everywhere
  • Following your Prime Minister’s visits abroad.
  • Being notified on India’s foreign relations updates and latest news.
  • Watching and downloading documentaries on India.
  • And also sharing your thoughts and suggestions to contribute to the development of the App. [4]

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.14.22

Syed Akbaruddin, an Indian Foreign Service officer has considered the App as representing “a giant leap of faith in the digital world”.[5] Besides the launch of the App, India’s digital diplomacy has become very popular as per the use of other virtual platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Flickr.

The YouTube channel MEAIndia for example has reached half million views whilst the Indian Diplomacy channel has reached the extraordinary number of 5 million views.[6]

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.21.32Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.22.51

Thus, MEA’s wide social media participation has the objective to strengthen and broaden the connection with the young generation, increasing the public interest and ultimately spreading its digital presence to the international arena.[7] Furthermore, besides social media, digital diplomacy and the use of technologies exercise significant power and influence on important diplomatic levels such as policy initiatives, negotiations and also crisis management decisions.An example of this, is MEA’s social media network presence and importance in the crisis management of Syria and Libya, in which social media represented a successful and powerful method to communicate with the nationals living in these countries and coordinate effective evacuation procedures form the two countries.[8]

To conclude, India has made a significant change in its diplomatic practices, from being, as the Indian foreign minister Ranjan Mathai describes, remarkably “secretive, and of communicating discreetly and quietly with the interlocutors in a complete detached manner” into a new open , transparent diplomacy making its best effort to engage with the public and to spread its presence globally.[9] In 2016, India has been ranked among the top ten countries to in the performance of digital diplomacy[10], and Viksas Swarup spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, stated that “India and Mexico are the only two countries from the developing world in this list” which represents a great result[11].

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.47.43

 

References:

[1] Bjola, C. and Holmes, M. (2017). Digital Diplomacy : Theory and Practice. 1st ed. Routledge.

[2] Exploring Digital Diplomacy. (2017). What is Digital Diplomacy?. [online] Available at: https://digdipblog.com/countries-on-twitter-and-facebook/ [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

[3] Chand, M. (2017). Diplomacy Thinking Smart: A giant digital leap for India’s foreign office. [online] India Writes. Available at: http://www.indiawrites.org/thinking-smart-indias-foreign-office-giant-digital-leap/ [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

[4] Mea.gov.in. (2017). MEA | MEA goes Mobile. [online] Available at: http://mea.gov.in/mea-mobile-app.htm [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

[5] The Financial Express. (2017). MEA logs into e-diplomacy. [online] Available at: http://www.financialexpress.com/archive/mea-logs-into-e-diplomacy/1295764/ [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

[6] Indian Diplomacy At Work. #digitaldiplomacy. (2017). [PDF] indianembassydublin.in. Available at: http://www.indianembassydublin.in/docs/Digital%20Diplomacy.pdf [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

[7] Chand, M. (2017). Diplomacy Thinking Smart: A giant digital leap for India’s foreign office. [online] India Writes. Available at: http://www.indiawrites.org/thinking-smart-indias-foreign-office-giant-digital-leap/ [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

[8] Kurbalija, J. (2017). 25 Points for Digital Diplomacy. [online] DiploFoundation. Available at: https://www.diplomacy.edu/blog/25-points-digital-diplomacy [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

[9]DNA-Daily News & Analysis. (2017). Now, use an app to apply for passport | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis. [online] Available at: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-now-use-an-app-to-apply-for-passport-1867300 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

[10] #DDR16 Digital Diplomacy Review 2016. (2017). RANKING & RATING. [online] Available at: http://digital.diplomacy.live/ranking-and-rating/ [Accessed 10 Nov. 2017].

[11] Service, I. (2017). India Among Top 10 Countries in Digital Diplomacy: Report. [online] NDTV Gadgets360.com. Available at: https://gadgets.ndtv.com/internet/news/india-among-top-10-countries-in-digital-diplomacy-report-823007 [Accessed 10 Nov. 2017].

 

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5 thoughts on “India’s giant step into modern digital diplomacy.

  1. Hi bennii1996!

    This is very interesting blog entry. I did not know that India is this much active in terms of digital diplomacy and I find it very good strategy. I believe governments should use India as an example, because using social media platform will make more people to engage and the accessibility of information would be much easier as well. Of course there is also danger of fraud accounts and fake news.

    The digital diplomacy is surely unavoidable in the contemporary world and governments have to learn how to make the most out of it.

    Your post is very well structured, easy to read and full of relevant pictures, examples and rich bibliography. I very much enjoyed reading it.

    Like

  2. This is a very good post. You have produced a good blend of the academic discussion of digital diplomacy with the original case study of India’s MEA. It is nicely illustrated and comprehensively referenced. Well done. I am pleased to see that other blogs have picked up on your research.

    When you come to revise this post for inclusion in your portfolio at the end of the module, perhaps you could explore a little more closely the literature on digital diplomacy, to better preface your case study. You might also do a little more to evaluate the MEA’s initiatives. For instance, is the App a gimmick or is it a helpful way for Indian citizens to engage with the foreign ministry and international affairs more generally?

    But these are minor points. There is not a great deal of room for improvement here.

    Like

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