ABSTRACT: As world trade, free market systems, trading blocks, and industrialized, industrializing, and subsistence economies attempt to reposition themselves regionally and internationally, a new energetic and vibrant ethos permeates world order. Simultaneously, reflections at the onset of the third millennium of most nations have created new visions, directions, and challenges. With this has come an overwhelming responsibility on public relations as a part of strategic communication in accomplishing the goals and dreams of nations and its peoples.
In the last decade India has undergone an initial audit, among others, on its economy, policies, operations, and style of governance; the impact of globalization, its economic reform policies of 1991, and Vision 2020 pressurizes and creates an imposition on public relations as part of strategic communication management. This article discusses India's new direction and the persistent and insistent demand for public relations. The strategic plan of the professional body in running the gauntlet in this new milieu and the pertinaciousness and urgency of the challenges ahead for public relations are explained.
Raveena Singh is program director of Public Relations at the University of Canberra, Australia, and coeditor of the Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal.
INDIA: REPOSITIONING ITSELF IN AND TO THE WORLD
As a result of the economic reform polices announced in India in 1991 and its resultant growth in privatization, together with the aggressive growth in the internationalization of economies and the impact of globalization, India faces many new challenges (see Bhaduri and Nayyor  and Jalan ). Intensified competition, an emergence of new needs for information and information technology, better service and service delivery, product restructuring and reengineering, infrastructure development, and closer attention to ecological and quality of life issues are new realities for India.
At a macro level, the third wave of the last century, the technological and information revolution, brings with it the fiercest changes yet experienced. From another but related aspect, it is anticipated that the United States, Europe, and an increasing proportion of the Asia Pacific will dominate the world economy, implying that the Asia Pacific leverage will increase. The collapse of Communism assumes that marketization is unavoidable; regional blocks are replacing superpowers, encouraging regional cooperation. Like many countries, India is endeavoring to pick up after the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of its past strategic partner, the former Soviet Union.
As India awakens within the developing regional trading blocks, it will play an increasingly major role in trade agreements, such as the South Asian Agreement for Regional Cooperation and the South Asian Free Trade Agreement. This movement has brought with it new demands for India to reposition itself internationally and to update its imagery or stereotypes; at a micro level, the implications for India point in the direction of the development of new and current industries, in both the private and public sectors. An accelerated need in communication management is now evident as India emerges as a world power in economics, trade, and manufacturing and as India continues to male its contribution to the world.
IMPACT OF ECONOMIC REFORMS: LIBERALIZATION POLICIES 1991
The history of Indian business, commerce, and politics was, since 1991, set in a sheltered economic environment; one that is now being shaken by the challenges from the opening of its economy in 1991.  The effect of this now forces India to establish and maintain an edge in global markets; sourcing international funds, developing technological edges, building quality standards, and acquiring other and new communication skills in a highly competitive market are other new realities for India.  The economic imperative brings with it the fear of mergers, takeovers, and acquisitions forcing a new ethos in commerce, industry, and government. The need for tighter and stronger communication management in various sectors, profit, not-for-profit, and governmental institutions in India is being felt now more than ever as competition increases and the obligation of organizations and institutions for accountability and transparency increases.
Political instability in recent times in India has been of grave concern, and the government of the day is always under scrutiny. Professor Lord Desai, director of the Center for the Study of Global Governance of the London School of Economics, likens India's economic reforms to a "triple by-pass."  Five years after the reform policies were announced, Desai was of the opinion that
the major thrust of liberal economic reform in India had now spent itself and while the reforms were irreversible the analogy is that of a bullock cart stuck in the mud: it is irreversible but that doesn't help very much. It is not going anywhere 
He maintained, among other reasons, that reforms have not alleviated poverty but that the case for reform "is that fast and radical integration into a globalizing economy is India's best imaginable antipoverty program." However, he also stated that "over the last thirty years, any radical experiment in India has had a shelf life of about three to three and a half of four years."  Is it possible that inadequate and ineffective communication may be part of the problem? That a strategic entry, follow through, and evaluation is lacking?
Apart from the continual commentary of the free and critical press in India on this issue, Bhaduri and Nayyar  cited one example of sheer neglect, or maybe even deliberate manipulation of communication by the Indian government. They believed that economic reform was brought about as a response to crisis management when India experienced its external debt crisis in 1991. They argued that although the Indian government could take credit for crisis management, "it was intellectually dishonest to pass this off as the road to salvation on India's journey to development" (p. 9). There are many more examples that plague the government, and the emerging demand for transparency forces the government to seriously reconsider new ways of managing communication.
Supporting the argument, the same authors commented on information flows and dissemination of information by the government. They made a fundamental point in their book and argued that
self-correction, however, can work effectively only if the system is transparent enough to ensure a free flow of information. Fortunately, in India we have a press that is, relatively speaking, both free and critical. But the present or earlier governments [both congress and non-congress] in the center and the states have not appreciated the need for transparency, which is essential for economic development in a democratic framework. Information given to the public has been selective. It has been provided only when it suits the government in power. Or, governments have been forced to part with information by the outbreak of scandals: the financial scam in Bombay stock exchange, the role of the IMF and the World Bank in the design of policy and, more recently Enron. The CPM government in West Bengal has not …