India’s vaccine story owes its success in great measure to Mann ki Baat.
That alone is tribute enough to its relevance and significance
Anurag Singh Thakur
Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi is universally acknowledged as an exceptionally gifted communicator who can establish instant rapport with the masses. His oratorical skills are only one explanation for this unique ability. The sincerity with which he speaks, the integrity which he is known for, and the trust-based relationship he has struck with the people over the past eight years all contribute to his success as a mass communicator.
His inclusionary approach has found unprecedented acceptance across demographics. It’s PM Modi’s people-centric model of development that has endeared him to the vast multitudes. And it’s his non-elitist idea of a continuous dialogue with the people that led to what we now know as Mann Ki Baat, launched in October 2014. Over the years, it has become a last Sunday of the month fixture. It began as a radio talk; it is now broadcast from various platforms in multiple languages.
The first episode of Mann Ki Baat was aired on October 3, 2014. It will complete 100 episodes on April 30, 2023
Mann Ki Baat shows that there are two Modis — the strong, powerful, purposeful PM Modi; and the soft, kindly, gentle paterfamilias Modi. If you were to shut your eyes and listen to Mann Ki Baat, you would think that Modi-ji was sitting at a village chaupal, conversing with people — listening to them, speaking to them, and offering sage advice where needed, or complimenting someone for an exemplary deed. Recently, he shared his conversation with the families of accident victims who had bravely decided to donate the organs of their loved ones. Modi- ji used that conversation to promote the noble idea of organ donation.
One could cite numerous such examples, ranging from coping with climate extremes to health and hygiene to complimenting ordinary people with extraordinary hearts for their good deeds. PM Modi’s Mann Ki Baat is essentially about real-life stories and experiences, stories that reflect the real India that exists beyond the narrow confines of Lutyens’s Delhi. Which explains why each episode of Mann Ki Baat is wildly popular and receives tens of thousands of responses. It resonates with the people as it is about their concerns.
The first episode of Mann Ki Baat was aired on October 3, 2014. It will complete 100 episodes on April 30, 2023. Mann Ki Baat is unique in terms of its subject matter, design, interaction, and innovative way of communicating with the people and society as a whole. Through the All India Radio — the largest radio network in the world with 262 stations and over 375 private and community stations — the PM reaches a vast spectrum of a socio-economically and culturally diverse populace, inspires and energises them not just on social, cultural, and economic issues but also on challenging problems that the world is facing today, such as the climate crisis, waste management and the energy crisis.
Prasar Bharati, the Indian public service broadcaster, undertakes the translation and broadcast of Mann Ki Baat in 52 languages and dialects, including 11 foreign languages, catering to the remotest regions in the country while also taking it to the Indian diaspora. Mann Ki Baat is India’s first virtually enriched radio programme that is simultaneously broadcast by TV channels: 34 channels of the Doordarshan network and over 100 private satellite TV channels broadcast this innovative programme across the length and breadth of the country, creating renewed interest and awareness about this traditional medium of communication. A smartly curated booklet, with articles of experts and changemakers from various walks of life, is also published each month since February 2022, reaching over 60 million people digitally.
Mann Ki Baat has been termed widely (and rightfully so) as a social revolution and finds a solid base in jan bhagidari. The programme has been conceived and implemented on the idea of citizen engagement and participation
With such a colossal impact, Mann Ki Baat has been termed widely (and rightfully so) as a social revolution and finds a solid base in jan bhagidari. The programme has been conceived and implemented on the idea of citizen engagement and participation, right from the formulation of the name of the show to the choice of subjects and calls to action that the PM includes in this programme.
The primary objective of Mann Ki Baat is to build a direct connection between the PM and citizens. Every month, the PM receives millions of letters from across the nation. It is also not uncommon for him to have telephonic conversations with the people during the show. Such a mode of communication between the elected leader and the masses significantly strengthens people’s belief in democracy and governance.
Throughout its successful course of 99 episodes over eight years, Mann Ki Baat has endeavoured to not only generate awareness about important issues but also inspire them to take action on social and national causes. Since its inception, Mann Ki Baat has emerged as an effective tool of jan andolan. The social messages delivered by the PM become a social media trend in a matter of a few hours as well as a mass movement (jan andolan) in a few weeks. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Covid-19 vaccination and Har Ghar Tiranga are a few glorious examples.
Recently, in the 88th episode of Mann Ki Baat, the PM highlighted the importance of water conservation and urged citizens to build Amrit Sarovars in their locality. Within a few months, the message was converted into a jan andolan and numerous Amrit Sarovars emerged across the nation.
Furthering the vision of building a Sashakt Bharat (strong India), Mann Ki Baat is focused on highlighting the national and global successes of the nation, urging people to participate in the nation’s development while instilling a sense of pride, belonging and nationalism in the citizens.
In the 89th episode, the PM highlighted the number of unicorns in India reaching the figure of 100. The 91st episode celebrated the mass participation and nationwide success of the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign. With Mann Ki Baat, the PM successfully established a mechanism to take welfare schemes and policies to the people at every level and generate awareness.
Even during times of crisis, the programme has played an important role in keeping people informed, as during the pandemic, and motivating them to get vaccinated. India’s vaccine story owes its success in great measure to Mann ki Baat. That alone is tribute enough to its relevance and significance.
(Writer is Union minister of Information & Broadcasting
and Minister of Sports)