The Connectere podcast is an initiative to bring forth innovative ideas and opinions of the youth forward via the digital medium. On this very first episode of the podcast, we have Sonal who walks us through the evolution of diplomatic relations between countries from the past to the modern day.

Following is the episode transcript –

Welcome to one and all. I’m Sonal Mandhana and you are tuned in to The
Connectere’s podcast. Today we’re going to be discussing Diplomatic Relations in the Modern Era.

Now, this could get a lot boring if we stick to the different policies and diplomatic structure of different countries. But we don’t want you to fall asleep now, do we? Therefore, this primarily brings to your knowledge an overview of diplomacy and the relations associated with it plus a lot of interesting factoids and to judge how these are going to change in the foreseeable future.

Now let’s understand, what exactly is diplomacy? If you go on Wikipedia,
diplomacy is defined as the art of advancing an idea or cause without
unnecessarily inflaming passions or unleashing a catastrophe. Diplomacy is a
very loaded term in general. It can wield different definitions for different
people. Diplomacy is pervasive, its present everywhere- whether you look at
your personal relationships, friendships, office environment, etc. But when we
look at professional diplomacy, diplomats include two main groups: diplomatic
officers and consular officers – Diplomatic officials specialize in representation
and negotiation, whereas consular official are particularly concerned with the
protection of the interests of the nationals of their country. If we take a step
back and look at the bigger picture, every citizen of a state who travels to
another country is a diplomat – diplomat doesn’t particularly mean one
specific thing.

Let’s delve into the past and create a roadmap on how significantly
diplomacy has changed over the past decades. Now you have to remember
that in the past, communication channels were long and often
misinterpreted. There were ongoing wars and tension was at an all-time
high. Therefore, we can conclude safely, that diplomacy was a very difficult
affair back then with some weirdly strange practices employed by some
countries. For example, did you now that China employs a particularly unique
diplomacy method. It uses giant pandas (yes you heard that right) as
diplomatic gifts to other countries. This tradition dated back to the Tang
dynasty in 685 and is still widely used. Diplomacy also takes into
consideration another variable- diplomatic gifts. A diplomatic gift is given by
a diplomat when visiting a foreign country. Usually the gift is reciprocated by
the host. This dates back to the ancient world and often the two indulging
nations compete to outdo each other in some weird show of dominance.
Once, a Moroccan king sent George W Bush $3 jar of fish bait among other
things. Barack Obama gave 25 DVDs to PM Gordon Brown in 2009 that didn’t
work in the UK. So yes, diplomatic gifts are a whole another story. And as we
wade further into the modern era, the art of diplomacy gift giving is a precise
one.

Presently, diplomacy has carved a better outcome for itself than in earlier
times. It’s a very dynamic concept, it keeps changing, sometime to the
annoyance of other nations; shifts in ideas, norms of behaviour, and informal
practices that create new international customs and conventions. The
diplomat in this modern world faces challenges from the global distribution of
power. Studies show that diplomacy is a continuous process- governments
change, diplomats change, economic conditions change, all this is factored in
to maintain relations. In this regard, diplomacy is a form of art. A diplomat is
expected to possess a good knowledge and understanding of his own
country; its geography, history and culture, its economy, political, social and
its demographic structure, natural resources, its industry and the
determinants of its foreign policy priorities. But nowadays, many under-
developed countries are prone to inept and half-baked individuals as
diplomats due to allegations of bribery and under the influence of gifts. The
development of instant communications and the advancement of science and
technology have increased the depth and scope of diplomacy in this
contemporary world of civilization, especially with the emergence of new
states, nuclear weapons, conflict resolution, terrorism and bad governance –
In the Persian Gulf crisis of 1991, former President George Bush, Sr., and
former President Mikhail Gorbachev conducted an unprecedented 75 minutes
telephone conversation including the time needed for translations. As
evidenced by this, diplomacy is changing and is on route a drastic change.
Already the world has developed different forms of diplomacy. Social media
diplomacy is a whole different concept. Ministries and dignitaries’ resort to
twitter to make announcements and updates. Social media has ushered in a
whole another level of diplomacy. Friendly war of words is also a wildly
famous affair. Recently, Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg resorted to
twitter to hash out a few words at one another. Its liberating, constraint free
but at the same time can cause a lot of damage.

Looking at the past and present scenario, we can make some predictions
about the future as well. It is evolving faster than ever and it is being
transformed into a global participatory process by new media tools and newly
empowered publics. ‘Public diplomacy’ has taken centre-stage as diplomats
strive to reach and influence audiences that are better informed and more
assertive than any in the past. In a hyper connected world, the diplomats’
job has certainly become a lot harder and instant. Taking the example of Iran
US tensions recently, a lot has come into light- revelations, apologies,
statements issued. We can say that diplomacy is going to change in the
future, though which form it will take is unsure. It is a turbulent affair and it
will remain so in the future with various variables in play.
And that was it for this episode of the podcast. I would love to hear what you
have to say on the topic! Head on over to theconnectere.com/podcast and
visit the episode page to leave your thoughts and suggestions!

References-
1. https://www.wiley.com/en-us/The+Future+of+Diplomacy-p-9781509507191
2. https://www.liberianobserver.com/opinion/commentaries/diplomacy-and-its-practices-in-
the-modern-era-the-critical-analyst/
3. https://listverse.com/2017/06/18/top-10-bizarre-diplomatic-gifts-given-to-world-leaders/
4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_1z5SdNWVY
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewc3ziZ8ReI
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomacy
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panda_diplomacy

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