Saturday, 31 December 2011

Let's welcome 2012 with a 'spring of hope'

Looking back at the events of 2011, the following lines by Charles Dickens spring to mind:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the   epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,....”-  A Tale of Two Cities.

Dickens wrote these words in1859, but personally, I feel that they hold a great relevance in our present times. The year 2011 wasn’t a great year for most of us: there was hardly any good news, and we all suffered in one way or the other either because of the ongoing recession, or a revolution or a natural calamity. Sadly, there was nothing really to cheer about this year.

Clearly, from the perspective of the era that we live in, “it was a best of times.” Globalisation, new technology, social media, freedom of speech, democracy all made it look like a world full of possibilities – sky seemed to be the limit. But, in reality we are in the ‘worst of times'. Graduates are increasingly finding it  difficult to get jobs, unemployment figures have been worst in a generation, economies around the world have become stagnant, the promises of a ‘flat world’ are vanishing, ambitions of young people are being thwarted- in short there is a prevalent mood of frustration and anger. This was a fact in 2011.

The unsurpassed ‘age of wisdom’ is failing to live up to the expectations. We have benefited enormously from the internet and never in the history of mankind the exchange of ideas and access to information and knowledge have been so profound; yet on the other hand, big international summits like G20 or a conference on climate change end in nothing but a deadlock. What did we see at G20 in Cannes – surely a Greek play? Where is the wisdom to create an age of consensus? Isn’t the Euro zone crisis a shame? This was another reality of 2011.

In many ways, we are living in an ‘age of foolishness’ refusing to learn from history or are too complacent. We love mass movements directed at state but not willing to do our bit to change the world (look at the mass protests in India against corruption). We are as individuals more corrupt, irresponsible towards our loved ones, unsocial and more selfish. The London riots this year was shocking – ringing the alarm bells of a society and a system drastically gone wrong.  It had a lesson for the affluent in the emerging economies as much as it did for ‘broken Britain’.

The revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa was the ‘epoch of belief and incredulity’ – no doubt about it. It was great to see  youth wielding the power of technology and education for freedom and change, but I hope the sweeping changes we saw in the region is long sustained and is not replaced by regimes that are intolerant to progressive ideas, religious freedom and human rights.

Politically, there was a ‘season of light’ in Myanmar with junta showing some signs of political reform, but in the rest of world  stretching from Afghanistan to the US, from Norway to Japan it was all gloomy and bloody.

However, 2012, will hopefully bring lots of promises paving the way for the ‘winter of despair' to the ‘spring of hope’ Four major nations of the world: China, US,  France and Russia are going to choose new leaders. The London Olympics will usher new optimism and hope.We hope the Arab spring will enjoy a fruitful summer, and the BRIC economies along with Columbia and Venezuela (another country to go to poll) will continue to show some economic miracles. We also hope the rich and developed nations will continue to inspire more dynamism and less protectionism and a solution to the Euro crisis will soon be found.

After the three years of economic depression, it is the time to collectively rebuilt and bring prosperity, peace and hope to the citizens of the world. It is the time for us, the youth in particular to come forward and do utmost in our individual sphere. Together we can create a secure world full of promises based on the universal values of freedom, love and dialogue. Let’s march to 2012 with a spirit of hope, let’s not make it an era where “we had everything before us, but we had nothing before us”

Let me end with this quote by a renowned Buddhist scholar and philosopher Daisaku Ikeda:

“Youth means to cherish hope ; it is a time of development. Youth means to challenge oneself; it is a time of construction. Youth means to fight for justice; it is a time of action”


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Speaking all the way..

The purpose of public speaking can range from simply transmitting information, to motivating people to act, to simply telling a story. Good orators should be able to change the emotions of their listeners, not just inform them.

Public speaking can also be considered a discourse with a community. Interpersonal communication and public speaking have several components that embrace such things as motivational speaking, leadership development, business, customer service, large group communication, and mass communication.

Public speaking can also be a powerful tool to use for purposes such as motivation, influence, persuasion, informing, translation, or simply entertaining. A confident speaker is more likely to use this as excitement and create effective speech thus increasing their overall ethos.

In public relations, we have to incorporate to a great deal the above mentioned features while dealing with all stakeholders. Our job involves persuading the public on behalf of our clients either through oral presentation or through some great writings. Like a good orator, our writings have to be clear, concise, and coherent and have the right selection of words so that the audience can easily absorb the message.

PR also involves making presentation while pitching for a new business. It involves explaining strategic communication issues, and many a times the audience may not be familiar with certain aspects like digital PR. Good oratory skills are handy in explaining complex issues with simple words and wining the trust, confidence and finally the business!