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Image and Reality

N.N. Vohra

By Amita Malik
Vikas, New Delhi, 2014, viii 174, Rs. 40.00

VOLUME III NUMBER 1 July/August 1978

In the struggle-torn world of today, not only individuals try to better their lot, but even nations compete ferociously to overtake each other. Ever-growing competition has led to an almost un­wholesome image-consciousness which manifests itself in organized showmanship by almost every country. This activity is generally known as public relations, which Amita Malik chooses to call the Media Game. Amita Malik is a well-known jour­nalist, radio and press reviewer and commentator. Her picture of the Indian image abroad is the result, as she tells us, of a 7-month trip to 14 countries, put in book form at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Simla, which afforded her a Fellowship for the purpose. Sur­prisingly, the author does not tell us the year of her visit abroad, but from a reference in the prologue it is clear that the book was in print when the Emer­gency was lifted. Apparently she journeyed abroad during the dark days at home. She says she has not been tempted to record India’s image abroad during the Emergency as this entire business is still too near and too fresh. The author has produced not a ‘depth book’ on the Indian image abroad but what she calls a mass media travelogue. She has interviewed eminent India watchers such as Yehudi Menuhin, Roberto Rossellini, Alistaire Cook, Jack Anderson, John Grigg and a host of others and rummaged through a mass of media evidence. How is it, she asks, that India which continues to be a prize assignment for most foreign journalists, offering as it does the most exciting copy in print, sound and visuals, succeeds in creating such outstandingly diverse, out­-of-perspective and bizarre images of itself—the least being that of a big bully swallowing her neighbours (Goa, Sikkim, …..), by turn, and now armed with an atom bomb(!) In Egypt, the Indian film seems to be the only study point of communication between the Indian and the Arab. Krishna Menon is still remembered for his non-alignment battles. In Syria, recent Indian films are claimed to be debasing the nationals' taste! Lebanon still gets Indian news from external agencies. Italy has many eminent India watchers and Roberto Rossellini has done excellent work in arousing curiosity about India. Radio Vatican gives news bulletins in Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. A proposal for direct exchange of news with Yugo­slavia has been under consideration for years now. However, ...

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