Academic journal article Journal of Development Communication

J.V. Vilanilam. Public Relations in India: New Tasks and Responsibilities

Academic journal article Journal of Development Communication

J.V. Vilanilam. Public Relations in India: New Tasks and Responsibilities

Article excerpt

J.V. VILANILAM. Public Relations in India: New Tasks and Responsibilities. Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, 2011. 292 pages.

This 292 page book documents the history of Public Relations (PR) and practices in India. It is seen more as a tool for development and social responsibility in one of the highest populated country in the world. The book outlines several important factors such as how good PR can re-shape India that has a huge mass of poor, illiterate and unhealthy people. The author shows a clear structure in the outline starting off with a brief conceptual framework for PR in India for readers to understand how PR works in such a large developing country. The author then connects with the growth and development of modern PR and the 20th century corporate PR and PR writing with the case study of Bhopal crisis. Next are the essential qualities of a PR person, practical PR, business writing and media relations. Towards the end, the author has covered topics like internal and external PR, International Communication and Cross-Cultural Communication by blending theoretical arguments with PR case studies as the author sees there is a huge need for cross-cultural PR in the current borderless world.

There have been some outstanding issues raised in the book focusing on the fast moving, developing country. "When we consider that we have to feed, clothe and shelter a little over a billion people, all our talk about post-industrial society becomes mere hot air, totally non-applicable to the largely illiterate and miserable majority of the population of India" (p.6). The chapter A Conceptual Framework for PR in India has outlined several relevant arguments that PR functions differently in India as it needs to reach further to help uplift the society. "India, therefore, has a severe PR problem" (p.6). The author presented the idea of the need to have citizen-based public relations only applicable in India as its problems are unique and of its own. "PR in India, therefore, must be viewed not simply as a management tool but as a social function, as pointed out by Bernays (1955)" (p.7).

In The Growth and Development of Modern PR, the author highlights PR is one of the fastest moving branch of communications with at least 150,000 people are working in the industry in India. The author asserts PR practices in the country are highly unpredictable. "PR personnel are called in by the top management to organise some function or other in an ad-hoc manner, without any reference to the basic philosophy of PR in management or without an overall, integrated and holistic vision of the role of PR" (p.49). It is evident, in India, PR executives are seen as servants of manager's and are replaceable by anyone without special talent or education. "PR in India is still an executive job, not a top management job. It is not closely connected with planning and organising the command, coordination, control, standards, theoretical concepts, research, safety and security of premises and people, as well as, the cooperation and developing functions of top management" (p.66).

Vilanilam has shown numerously the importance of ICT in the practices of PR and succinctly portrayed India being a nation "limping like a wounded donkey with a heavy burden of the past on its back". "On the other hand, there is a great deal of enthusiasm for computerisation, information technology, telecommunications, space and atomic science. Much has been achieved by the country's scientists and technologists in these areas in the past two decades, but when it comes to the very basic needs of a huge population and the general health and well-being of the majority of about one billion people, we are still far behind other nations, as shown in UN, World Bank, IMF and other international as well as national statistical documents published annually. Our science seems to gallop like a race horse while our society is limping like a wounded donkey with a heavy burden of the past on its back" (p. …

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