Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is one of the most popular heads of state in the world. No where is he more celebrated than in the U. S. The Indian Prime Minister has been the guest of honor at three arrival ceremonies and state dinners in the last decade. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all hosted Prime Minister Singh at the United State’s highly coveted Arrival Ceremony and State Dinner. In fact, he was President Obama’s first guest for an arrival ceremony and state dinner on Nov. 25, 2009.
As a member of the George W. Bush Administration, I had the opportunity to be on the White House South Lawn to officially welcome Prime Minister Singh and his wife, Gursharan, six years ago – July 18, 2005
Despite these warm relationships and culinary extravaganzas, the two countries have not done enough to inform their citizens of the bottom line economic impact of their collaborations. One key way of doing this is through social media. It’s vital to American interests to continue to strengthen our relationship with this emerging democracy – home to more than 1.2 billion people, many of whom speak English, are young and eager to buy American goods. Once the partying is over, there is no better way to keep the conversation going than through social media.
Here are three areas where these countries are collaborating and social media could be key:
- Take the Green Partnership, the clean energy and climate change agreement that was signed at Prime Minister Singh’s 2009 state visit. It’s received almost no publicity even though achieving some successes. Groups in the U. S. and India have called for the use of social media technology to make the Green Partnership more effective by creating a joint web platform to gather and make accessible information as well as facilitate the participation of more businesses.
- Centers for Disease Control in the U. S. is working to establish a Regional Global Disease Detection Center in India, also signed at the 2009 visit. What is the status of this collaboration? How can American businesses help make this a reality? A simple solution, The White House Website, http://www.whitehouse.gov. should update where we are in implementing these initiatives, linking back to the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding.
- Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, to find ways for U. S. and India colleges and universities to work together, was also signed at the 2009 State Visit. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is currently traveling in India, said there will be a Higher Education Summit Oct 13 in Washington DC. Here is a perfect opportunity to engage citizens of all ages on Facebook, twitter, and through online conversations on the goals of this Summit. Reaching India’s 812 million mobile phone through the webless social network could be accomplished by partnering with Just Dial.
One suggestion for improving transparency is to issue a “Report Card on the Obama/Singh State Visit 2009.” The home page of the White House Website as well as the departments of State and Commerce could issue real-time updates and links for more information. After all, if the White House can host a twitter town hall, timely information on a Website should be doable.
India is one friend the U. S. does not want to risk losing and documenting successes of past visits through the tools of social media can only enhance future cooperation and make the ties between the two countries even stronger. And the invitations to dinner between the U. S. and India should keep coming.