Here we discuss the basic ingredients of Public Relations: Topical Issues, The backdrop - economic and social, What makes PR tick, the pain points, the problems, the positives, the negatives... almost anything under the sun related to the communication industry!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Public Affairs and Communication Scenario in India:

Public Affairs and Communication??? If you ask a layman in India what it means the most probable response would be that it means the affairs that our politicians and other public luminaries have and their expose by the media :). Well that might mean stretching the imagination a bit too far, but I just wanted to point out the almost non existent state of this branch of Public Relations in India. However when we throw up the term Lobbyist, it is more widely known. But ask anybody to conjure up an image of a lobbyist and the image most likely to crop up is a person carrying a briefcase or a suitcase full of wads of currency and handing it over to the greedy influencer and in this I am not stretching the imagination.

Not many would know and those who know agree that Public Affairs and Communication is a very legitimate way of initiating a dialogue with the policy makers and influencers on behalf of your clients to get across their point of view. Of course the very point of the dialogue is to try and make the policy makers accept your clients views. However if there is no dialogue then how does one communicate. The recent Telecom scandal in India where the exchequer was cheated to the tune of potentially US $ 50 billion and one of the proponents of Public Affairs, Nira Radia and her company Vaishnavi, were caught on tape influencing policy for kick backs has only reinforced the image of a lobbyist with a bagful of cash.

India an emerging democratic superpower has to get its act together. The Indian public is disgusted by one scam after the other exposing the level of corruption in the Indian Political and bureaucratic setup. Increasing young population with rising ambition wants to see a country which is free from corruption and thriving. The immediate aftermath of the telecom scandal and rise of civil activism against corruption would be a knee jerk reaction of banning all kinds of public affairs practice. But is this the right approach?? If I put this to the public right now, I am sure the overwhelming response would be, YES.

But I am convinced this is not the correct way. Every section of the Socio economical fabric has the right to be heard and put their views across. This is possible only if we allow dialogue. Proponents of Public affairs are just doing a job: they are facilitating a dialogue between the concerned parties. But if we impose a blanket ban on this, do we think we can stop the rot in the system. I think not.

The way forward would be to legitimize Lobbying and Public Affairs activity and introduce laws to regulate the activity. We, in India, could learn from our global contemporaries, especially the western world, where lobbying is a permitted activity. The laws there require every person who wants to lobby to register and maintain an account of the expenditure incurred on all public figures to the last penny. These figures are then made public. What a wonderful way of stopping a politician asking you to buy a ticket for his daughter to holiday in Hawaii? Something akin to this would go a long way in stemming the rot and also cleansing the public system of systematic corruption.

I guess the time has come for all of us to ask the Lawmakers to introduce a Law governing the dealings of politicians and the corporate world to make India a truly global superpower.

1 comment:

  1. Public Affairs and lobbying still conjure up images of jhola chaaps... going to government offices and paying to get work done... the dalals...

    If this category of people can be professionalized, it would help both businesses and society!