January 2011
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India Rising : Creating a platform for Foreign Relations Experts

New Delhi, Dec 24 (IANS) Against the backdrop of India's growing global stature, the external affairs ministry is now compiling a list of Indian experts in international relations to enable it create an interactive platform for enriching the process of policy formulation.

The external affairs ministry has partnered with the Jawaharlal Nehru University's School of International Studies and Jadvapur University to put together a fairly comprehensive database of academics from around the country specializing in international relations, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters here Friday.

'We are now working to create an effective platform where IR (international relations) specialists can not only network with each other but also have a better interface with MEA (ministry of external affairs),' she said.

Rao was speaking after launching the redesigned website of the external affairs ministry and a brand new portal of its public diplomacy division that is trying to harness new social media like Facebook and Twitter to project India's positions on key policy issues. The idea is to reach out to the younger generation, she said.

The initiative to create a data base of specialists comes at a time when India is playing an increasingly important role in multilateral institutions and in debates on leading global issues.

India will Jan 1, 2011 join the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member after a gap of nearly two decades.

The ministry has taken a slew of initiatives to project its viewpoint on global issues that includes organising lectures, seminars and compressing documentary films into 6-8 minute capsules on YouTube to reach out to an eclectic audience over India's place in an evolving global order.

'In our globalized world, foreign policy issues, such as terrorism, climate change and civilian uses of nuclear energy are often intertwined with domestic ones,' Rao said.

The ministry has organized seminars, workshops and conferences in places like Varanasi, Patna, Kolkata, Shillong and Kochi on foreign policy themes that are specially relevant to those regions. 'The seminars in Varanasi and Patna, for instance, focused on Indo-Nepal relations.

There is an organic relationship between Nepal and the governments and people of these states,' said Rao. 'Sitting in Meghalaya, the view of our relationship with Bangladesh, Myanmar or even Thailand takes a dramatically different perspective,' she added.
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