Tharoor advocates wider use of Twitter

New Media could help convey policy matters better

But Shashi Thaoor’s obsession with Twitter has not diminished a bit in the last eight months he spent out of the South Block—after stepping down as the Minister of State for External Affairs in the wake of the Kochi Indian Premier League row.

The Congress MP from Thiruvanathapuram on Friday advocated wider use of Twitter and other social networking websites by the MEA to communicate on foreign policy— something he himself was doing in the MEA, notwithstanding his senior and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna’s disapproval.

Speaking at a conference on “Public Diplomacy in the Information Age here, Tharoor advised the MEA to use the New Media to connect with youth and communicate New Delhi’s positions on world affairs to key segments of public opinion around the world.

The event was organised by the Public Diplomacy Division of the MEA in association with the CMS Academy. It was the first conference on public diplomacy in the country.

Back to diplomacy

The conference was also the first MEA event with Tharoor as a speaker after he resigned as Minister of State in the wake of the Kochi IPL controversy. He was accused of unduly mentoring the Kochi IPL, while its promoter Rendezvous Sports World had offered his friend Sunanda Pushkar a sweat equity of Rs 70 crore.

With Pushkar, who he married last August, in the audience, Tharoor chaired the inaugural session of the conference and also spoke on 21st Century Statecraft and Soft Power.
“Being an IT power hub, India should be in the forefront of public diplomacy using latest technology,” said Tharoor, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs. Tharoor had courted controversy in September 2009, when he called “economy class” of commercial airliners as “cattle class” in a post on Twitter.

He had again tweeted his way into controversy in December 2009, when he had questioned the government’s decision to tighten the visa regime on the social networking site. Disapproving Tharoor’s remarks on Twitter, Krishna had told journalists that the government’s business was far too serious to be tweeted about.

Interestingly, three months after his exit from South Block, the MEA itself entered Twitter.

 Post PM trips

Tharoor, however, pointed out on Friday that the MEA was still not utilising the full potential of New Media and should regularly post, for instance what the President or Prime Minister were doing during tours to foreign countries.

“Projection of India’s soft power is a part of public diplomacy. So too is the use of social media including Facebook and Twitter, YouTube and Web 2.0 platform,” said Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who also spoke.

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