on Oct. 18, 2009
The first-ever All India Communications Conference was held on 28th and 29th September 2009 at ISKCON Juhu.
The Communications Conference, which was preceded by an informative Communications Course conducted by Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON Communications Minister, saw an impressive attendance. India's over 40 communication delegates assembled at the palatial Juhu temple with representatives from all four zones into which India has been divided namely north, south, east and west. The participants included temple presidents, communications representatives and congregation leaders from across India, all eager to learn how to best present Krishna consciousness in contemporary environments.
The Regional Coordinators for the respective four zones namely Vrajendranandan Dasa – Northern India, Sankarshan Nitai Dasa – Eastern India, Revati Raman Dasa – Southern India and Parijata Devi Dasi – Western India met for first time at the Conference after their appointment by the Indian Continental Committee in January 2009. They not only personally interacted with representatives from their zone but also shortlisted the challenges faced and opportunities presented by various temples in their respective areas and prepared a work plan to address these issues.
The Conference primarily aimed to help devotees improve internal communications (within ISKCON) and coordination across India, assure ISKCON offices are in place to deal with proactive and reactive media, develop strategies to protect ISKCON’s reputation and increase its influence, identify communications opportunities and challenges and help coordinate ISKCON India’s efforts with rest of the ISKCON world.
Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON Communications Minister, who mooted the idea of having a communications conference at a GBC meeting about a year ago and who flew from America to coordinate this first conference, said, "This is a historic step forward in the development of ISKCON Communications in India."
The two day conference saw presentations on the various aspects of communications. Vrajendranandan Dasa - Communications Director spellbound the audience with his adventurous experiences of introducing Krishna consciousness to prominent political leaders including the President of India. Revati Raman Dasa, Temple President for Tirupati spoke on building cordial relation with Hindu Groups while Caitanaya Charan Dasa, Communications Representative from Pune and a prolific writer spoke on ‘Writing to a Secular Audience’. Devakinandan Dasa, Zonal Secretary and Bhadra Caru Dasa, Life Membership Director, presented concerns regarding both the opportunities and challenges of ISKCON's Life Membership program, and in
particular the need to improve the care for Life Members.
Anuttama Dasa's systematic presentation on Crisis Management entitled "Not If, But When" trained the delegates to confidently and competently respond to the emergencies that every organization in the material world has to inevitable face.
Nimisha Tiwari, Associate Editor – Bombay Times, systematically explained the working of media houses and the significance of reporting news in a timely and relevant manner. Representatives from Text 100, one of world’s renowned public relations company presented guidelines for an inspiring event management program.
Parijata Devi Dasi, Communications Coordinator for Western India, who shouldered the demanding responsibility of planning and organizing the conference, stated at the end of the conference, "This is a long-cherished dream come true. I look forward to communications taking off in a big way in ISKCON India." So too do the participants, who, after six days of joyful and fruitful learning, returned to their areas of service, eager to notch significant successes in communication in the coming year and report them at the next conference at ISKCON Delhi. Meanwhile, the four Regional Representatives shall present a detailed Communications Report to one of India’s highest managerial authority, Indian Continental Committee at their upcoming meeting in Puri on 8 November 2009 and thereby aim to initiate a pro-active communications program at all ISKCON temple’s in India.