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Marketing Peace: Aman ki Asha + Social Media

A few months ago, two media houses – The Times of India Group and the Jang Group of Pakistan – launched a new project called AMAN KI ASHA (Desire for Peace), a joint initiative to foster cultural and diplomatic relations between two countries that have been at odds for over 60years.

On the face of it the project seems to be a noble one, attempting to bring together people and cultures that are historically entwined and share many commonalities. It is spearheaded by two large media conglomerates that have the means and power to bring together many influential and important people from both countries in order to have a meaningful dialogue. The push has been largely cultural so far with print and broadcast media being the main outlets for the campaign.

The photo posted above, alongwith the official articles and television commercials that can be found on youtube and elsewhere on the web attempt to mingle identities, icons and highlight the similarities of the two nations that were formerly one.

For me, personally the campaign, which I consider a publicity gimmick,  became interesting when someone directed me to their Facebook Page, which has a mere 16000 + fans. This led me to explore the websites set up by each media group respectively, and then the blogosphere to see what buzz this’ long-awaited’ campaign was creating online. My finds(and lack thereof) have been quite intriguing so far …  so through this travelogue I aim to the following

a) Discuss the various voices of dissent, cynicism and negativity that I can see  online

b) Video Interview and discuss with young Indians and Pakistanis the potential of such a project offline and online

c) Figure out how to better the digital footprint of this  project and how important is the social media aspect of such an initiative (which so far seems untapped)

Most importantly though, I”m wondering, is this just clever marketing? Or can non-governmental corporations create borderless media / mediums via which we can promote and produce better communication and peace processes between nations ?

** Introductory Podcast  coming up as soon as it converts to MP3 without freezing my computer **