Modi: The people’s ‘mann’


My ‘Dil ki Baat’ on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann ki Baat

The recent episode of Mann ki Baat was the 40th in the monthly programme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mann ki Baat has become a much awaited event, where citizens tune in to hear what the PM has to offer in each new edition. He never fails to disappoint!

It is great initiative by the Prime Minister. In a large and vibrant democracy like India, a direct channel of communication from the Prime Minister to the Common Man is an absolute ‘Sine qua Non’!

It is a platform which is non-invasive, gives a feeling to the listener that it is a “one on one” communication. It resonates with every Indian, who goes home with the feeling that the PM was indeed talking to him. The feel-good factor is that it makes the common man believe that he is fulcrum and the PM cares.

The connect created at the emotional level is enviable, and no other PM who has preceded him, has struck this kind of a chord with the masses. It goes to the credit of Narendra Modi, who has been able to build that bond. The positive spin-off is far-reaching and enduring and is likely to translate into votes. But the initiative per se is unlike a politician and more like a statesman.

It is an ingenious alternative and the PM has circumvented and side-stepped the media, who he thinks is downright hostile, as they seem to believe more in sensationalism and popularity ratings than in an objective analysis of the situation. And they also seem to have an agenda of their own. The PM has also left his detractors bewildered in this game of political one-upmanship he has scored over his political rivals.

On Mann ki Baat, the PM has spoken on a range of subjects from Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (the clean India campaign), Mars Mission, Black Money, khadi, and yoga with evangelical zeal and fervour. He is a very effective communicator and definitely succeeds in stirring up the thought processes of the common man and makes him ponder over the issues he has laid bare.

The fact that he has chosen the radio to deliver his homilies and spread the gospel is a strategic choice and the reach is far wider than any other medium.

It has conclusively been established that Mann ki Baat has become the most important source of revenue for All India Radio with a 10-second ad slot for Mann ki Baat costing Rs 200,000 as opposed to the usual Rs 500- 1500. A survey conducted in 6 Indian cities including Mumbai and Chennai to estimate the show’s success showed that 66.7% of the population had listened to the Prime Minister’s address.

Mann ki Baat has established Modi as a mass leader and people perceive him as a sincere leader who means well and is trying everything within his means to fulfil the expectations of the people. By this exercise, where he outlines progress and also gives a status update on his government’s policies and programmes, he has unwittingly raised expectations. People now expect him to deliver and they become frustrated when progress is not visible or apparent. Public memory is short. They are willing to give a bit of leeway for the decades of non-performance by previous dispensations but they are veering around to the view that Modi has the innate ability to reform, perform and transform and want to see dramatic results in the short and the near term. They are of the view that, if Japan and Korea can do it, so can India.

Modi does have that capability, notwithstanding what his detractors have to say about him. He is patriotic, puts in long hours to craft strategies for nation building, has single-handedly changed the world’s perception of India and he has been criss-crossing the globe wearing the mantle of  CEO of India Inc. His overarching ‘Make in India’ campaign is visionary and will definitely change the investment landscape for the better in India. He does not mince words and calls a spade a spade and has the courage the implement bold ideas, which he feels will help India in the long run.

He is also a shrewd politician, an organisational man who has toured the length and breadth of India and knows and feels its pulse, his humble origins give him the necessary humility and perspective to look at situations from the ground up.

Narendra Modi definitely has the potential to take India to stratospheric heights but he has to be wary of a few things.

Somehow because of his utterances he has given an impression that he is only Gujarat focussed. He has to rise to a level that people perceive him to be the PM of India rather than the Prime Minister of Gujarat.

He should go around the country and hold town hall meetings and have an interactive session with the general public so they can vent their grievances and he has to be seen as lending a willing ear. He can perhaps call this initiative “Dil ki Baat” or Umango ka haat (aspirations bazaar).


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