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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rajiv N Desai

Chairman & CEO
Comma Consulting
New Delhi and Bombay, India

Rajiv Desai is the founder of India’s newest and most experienced public relations consulting firm. A pioneer in the profession, Mr Desai established India’s first PR consulting firm, IPAN, in December 1987 when he relocated to Delhi after having spent the best part of the 1970s and 1980s in the United States.

In the 17 years that he steered IPAN to the top slot in the PR consulting profession, Mr Desai played a key role in the entry into India of Pepsi in 1988; in the launch of Citibank’s global consumer bank in 1989; in the rapid popularization of Golf, a 1990 campaign on behalf of ITC (Wills Circuit Golf); in the entry and launch of STAR TV in 1991; in the incipient technology boom for companies like Microsoft, Cisco and Intel in the mid 1990s; as also in the opening up of the telecom sector for companies such Nokia, Hughes, Alcatel, BT and BPL Mobile (the first cellular service).

Over the years, Mr Desai also established a parallel career in journalism as a columnist on public affairs. His commentaries have featured in publications all around the world including The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times (Syndicate), The Times of India, Hindustan Times and various magazines. He is a frequent commentator on television news shows and has appeared on NDTV, CNBC, BBC and other channels. In 1999, Mr Desai authored a book, Indian Business Culture, published by Butterworth-Heinemann (Oxford) that one reviewer called “a very high level discussion of economic policy.” He wrote a weekly column for the Bombay-based Daily News and Analysis newspaper and is a member of the advisory board and contributor to Education World, a Bangalore-based magazine. He is the founding editor of India Tribune, a 30-year old community newspaper in Chicago.

Active in public affairs, Mr Desai served as media adviser to Rajiv Gandhi in the 1989 and 1991 parliamentary election campaigns. In 1993 and 1994, he was an adviser to the UNICEF representative in India and was active in the advocacy campaign to further the cause of compulsory primary education in India. In 1997, he was appointed by Sonia Gandhi, President of India’s oldest and largest political party, the Indian National Congress, to its serve as counselor in the Media Department. In 1998, he was involved in the development of the Delhi’s government’s community initiative called “Bhagidari” (partnership). An active member of the Delhi’s government’s “sister cities” project with the city of Chicago, he was the moving spirit behind the first in a series of blues and jazz concert performances by Chicago bands in Delhi.

Educated in the United States, Mr Desai’s academic credentials cover mechanical engineering at the undergraduate level plus master’s degrees in journalism and in political science. He recently completed a course titled “Intellectual Property Rights and Information Technology in the Internet Age” from the Indian Law Institute in New Delhi.

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