A pioneer in the communications profession, Rajiv 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 2005, Mr Desai set up Comma Consulting to address the emergent field of communications management.
In the 17 years that he steered IPAN, 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 for Wills Circuit Golf; in the entry and launch of STAR TV in 1991; in the incipient technology boom as an adviser t0 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).
Mr. Desai’s 1999 book, Indian Business Culture, published by Butterworth-Heinemann (Oxford), is essentially a reprise of the advocacy cases in which he became involved as public affairs counsel.
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 and on National Public Radio in the US. He is a frequent commentator on television news shows and has appeared on NDTV, CNBC, BBC and other channels. For over three years, he wrote a widely-read column for the Bombay-based newspaper, Daily News and Analysis.
Currently, he is an active blogger. His blog “Res Gestae” has readers from around the world. He also writes “Capital Letter,” a blog for The Times of India.
Mr. Desai 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 three-decades-old community newspaper in Chicago. Recently, he was appointed member of the Government of India’s “Core Group” on media and communications. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), a Trust promoted jointly by the Ministry of Commerce and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
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 holds a diploma from the Indian Law Institute in “Intellectual Property Rights and Information Technology in the Internet Age.”