Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shri Anurag Thakur has today said that the Indian Information Service is the frontline defender of India’s official information system that protects India’s interests and shields India’s democratic structure of governance. Speaking at the valedictory session of Indian Information Service Officers of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 batches in New Delhi, the Minister said that the Indian Information Service (IIS) proudly and very adequately serves that role of communication and outreach.
Addressing an audience comprised of senior officials from the Service as well as the Ministry along with the trainee Officers at Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi, Shri Thakur said that soon the Officers would be entrusted with the crucial role of communicating to the people, via various media, key information about the policies and programmes of the Central Government. The Officers, he said, were entering the service at a time when a mere 280-character tweet has the power to influence a staggering 8 billion population worldwide. In this technology driven era, the Officers would compete with non-official information disseminators to provide a more reliable and wholesome information. With emerging technologies continuously shaping the media landscape, he encouraged the Officers to become well-versed in cutting-edge tools, trends, and techniques to effectively engage with audiences and communicate our messages. He prodded the Officers to actively seek out and explore new opportunities for connecting with citizens.
Shri Thakur highlighted that the task ahead is fraught with challenges. He offered a 5’C MANTRA that will guide communication for India@2047. The five Cs he said were
- Citizen-Centric Communication – communication should be focused on the needs and interests of citizens, ensuring that it is accessible, inclusive, and understandable to all.
- Co-Create with Target Audience – involve the target audience in the creation and design of communication and messaging to ensure it is relevant and resonates with them.
- Collaboration – work together with stakeholders to achieve the best outcomes and leverage each other’s strengths and expertise.
- Contemplation – take time to reflect and evaluate the effectiveness of communication strategies to make improvements and adjustments as necessary.
- Capacity Building – continuously develop skills and knowledge to be adaptable to evolving technologies and challenges in the communication field.
Speaking further, Shri Thakur drew a parallel with the time when the Service was set up when the post-war global Information Order was taking shape and said that “we are now witnessing the birthing of a post-pandemic New Information Order as geopolitical lines of alignment are being redrawn and geo-strategic concerns are being reframed. The overwhelming dominance of Big Tech in grey, hazy algo-driven information dissemination lies at the core of the New Information Order. Once again, we are seeing the West giving shape and form to the New Information Order, with Big Tech firmly aligned with them.” The Minister cautioned that this could squeeze out the autonomy of nation states to decide what is best for them. Herein, he said, lies a role for the Officers who must become a bulwark against externally enforced information order. “India, as the world’s largest democracy, has to be an equal participant in giving shape and form to the New Information Order”, he said.
The Minister further stated that primary task of the Officers would be to fuel an informed understanding of issues so that public discourse is well-informed, for a public discourse which is ill-informed weakens the nation, tarnishes its institutions, and weakens trust in elected Government. Public discourse which is influenced by malicious disinformation is corrosive and dangerous for democracy and the national interest, he further added. Highlighting the menace of this infodemic, Shri Thakur said that while democratisation of public spaces offered by tech platforms has no doubt had a positive impact, allowing a bottom-up participation in popular debate and discourse, at the same time malicious, weaponised disinformation, whether internal or external, has worked against the positive gains of this democratisation of public spaces. Shri Thakur exhorted the Officers to ensure gains from democratization of digital public spaces are not eroded by disinformation.
Shri Anurag Thakur congratulated the 52 Officers from the three batches on joining the prestigious service and said he was thrilled to see so many young, enthusiastic officers – eager and prepared to dedicate their energy towards serving the nation.
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