Ambassador (retd.) Kishan S Rana, Honorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies.
In the past 25 years new concepts have entered the lexicon of international affairs. In 1990, Joseph Nye gave us the notion of soft power (SP), the ability of a country to attract others, to attain its goals through inducement and gentle persuasion, rather than exertion of hard power. We also learnt to think of countries as brands (CB), possessed of images akin to commercial brands; such attributes had earlier sometimes been seen as national stereotypes. The difference now was that we realized that like all brands, country images could be marketed, enhanced and manipulated. At the same time, public diplomacy (PD) emerged as a new activity, or rather as an old wine in a new bottle, describing effort by governments to reach out to publics, foreign and to an extent also one’s own people, to influence their perceptions on international issues. We realized that image and country marketing affected inflows of foreign tourists, and the way foreign businessmen viewed one’s country as a destination for business and investments. This gave salience to these new forms of public communication.