Follow Us:
Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Common Touch

New technology has made public diplomacy easier and more perilous.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: April 28, 2015 12:00:21 am

In modern times, forging a connection with the people has become integral to the practice of leadership. Politicians are at pains to show us the myriad ways in which they are people like us; even Britain’s lofty royals are vulnerable to the impulse. Back in 1969, they sought to puncture their own mystique by releasing a home video that, scandalously for that time, recorded them eating in front of the television. For diplomats, creating this bond is part of their job and new technologies like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube offer them a whole new toolbox.

So heads of state are tweeted and retweeted cooing over cuddly koala bears or chasing after kangaroos, such as at the G-20 summit in Australia last November.

Leopard-petting Russian President Vladimir Putin is unsurprisingly an old hand at using every opportunity to burnish his crowd-pleasing macho man credentials; in February, his gift of a Kalashnikov to Egypt’s president was pointedly circulated on social media. Now, in a tribute to Bollywood that is also meant to showcase the famed Teutonic sense of humour, the German ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, has released a shot by shot remake of the title song from the immensely successful Karan Johar-weepie Kal Ho Na Ho — with help from former Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid who essays the part played in the film by Saif Ali Khan. Evidently, Germany, too, is hopelessly in love with Shah Rukh Khan.

But creative diplomacy has its perils. As a thank-you to French President Francois Hollande for his troops’ role in driving back militants in Mali, a grateful local official presented him with a camel. Unfortunately, the quadruped was noisy and ill-mannered, causing Hollande to bequeath it to a family in Timbuktu. Much to the embarrassment of Malian officials, the caretakers promptly ate it.

Subscriber Only Stories
Off public glare, India held first round of talks with NATO, agreed to ke...Premium
Ex-football chief Praful Patel ‘arranged’ FIFA letter on Indi...Premium
Explained: Is global inflation nearing a peak?Premium
Nitish’s break-up with BJP: Bihar is set for Mandal 2.0 politicsPremium

📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
First published on: 28-04-2015 at 12:00:18 am
0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by

Featured Stories