A POWERFUL INITIATIVE BY THE PEOPLE’S MAN

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We all hear radio everywhere around our surroundings. Whether we are at home, or at office, or when we are travelling in a public transport or when we are driving a car. Radio is an effective medium as it gives detailed information of any topic or any current issue and is inexpensive too. It is easily affordable even by the poor, who do not have televisions or computers to get access of information. Another advantage is that it is captive and portable, as there are no power cords attached to the instrument and can be taken anywhere, if there are signal towers nearby.

In India’s context, neither any diplomats nor any higher post ministers have appeared in AIR(All India Radio), commonly known as ‘Akashwani’ for addressing issues to all the people of a nation since independence. However, our new prime minister, the ‘People’s Man’ Shri Narendra Damordas Modi, seems to have broken this tradition. The Prime Minister decided to take this initiative, because he wanted to listen to the people’s problems and sympathise with them. He also took a jibe on the Indian National Congress, saying that despite being the central power of India for almost 60 years or so, nothing have been done to alleviate social infringements and upkeeping of the lower class.

‘Mann Ki Baat’, which roughly means expressing one’s views from your mind, is a programme initiated and hosted by, none other than Narendra Modi himself. Under this programme, the Prime Minister addresses to the citizens of India freely by radio in both Hindi and English languages. He is usually expected to address the nation once or twice every month on the AIR. Having officially started on and from October 3, 2014, the programme aims to deliver the Prime Minister’s voice to the general masses of India from New Delhi.

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Since television and satellite connections are still not available everywhere in India, especially in the isolated, rural and less developed areas, radio was hence chosen to be the medium for the programme, owing to its wider reach. Also, since radio is a cheaper product than television, it is kept by every household in both rural and urban areas of India, in order to get updated reports. An estimated 90% of the total Indian population is reachable over this powerful medium. Additionally, various private FM radio stations in the urban areas of India are also allowed to broadcast the government recording of the programme.

The government-run Doordarshan’s Direct to Home(DTH) service ‘Freedish’, relays feeds of the 30-minute long episodes to the televisions and radio channels respectively. The programme has been well received by the target audience, especially the urban masses residing in metropolitan cities across the country. A survey conducted in the lines of estimating the show’s success, in six biggest Indian cities, has indicated that about 70% of the population had tuned in to listen to the Prime Minister’s address and had found it useful and helpful. The rural masses achieved an impressive rate of over 85%, owing to the only powerful medium they possess.

A senior official of the AIR said that the post recording of Narendra Modi’s address will be done by the AIR and also, will prepare a transcript, which is to be later translated in regional languages. The AIR would repeat the telecast in regional languages on its regional channels after the broadcasting has been entirely done. AIR Director General Farooq Shahriyar said it was a great encouragement that the Prime Minister had chosen the public service broadcaster.

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He also added that they were considering options on how best to telecast the live event on Doordarshan. The officials mentioned that people, whether from India or outside the country, who are interested in conveying their thoughts, ideas or questions to Narendra Modi should do it through the Mygov website. The Prime Minister, they said, is expected to respond to some of the feedback received from people on the website.

The first radio address was done on October 3, 2014, on the occasion of Dusshera. Firstly, he mentioned about the progression of his home state Gujarat and the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Referring to Mahatma Gandhi and his teachings, he urged the purchase and use of Khadi cloth, so that by buying Khadi, one can contribute towards bringing prosperity to the poor and downtrodden. Also, he reminded people of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan programme, that was launched on Gandhi’s birth anniversary a day before, and urged people to join the mission of making India a clean nation.

He also touched upon the recent success of the successful Mars Mission(Mangalyaan) and praised the scientists for their hardwork and success. He even quoted Swami Vivekananda’s story about the lion cub brought up by a sheep who later discovered his strengths when he came in contact with another lion. He said that as a 126-crore strong nation, we all have skills and only need to recognize those skills. He emphasized on taking the initiative, integrating individual strengths and unite to achieve goals. He also highlighted some of the points, that people have mailed him in the recent past like having more skill-based learning for school children, installing more dustbins in the country and other important social discussions.

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The Prime Minister has also encouraged every people to keep writing to him and share their thoughts on the website http://www.mygov.in, which is the official website of the Government of India. He expressed his happiness over how the radio has let him reach out to the remotest and poorest villages of India. Lastly, he emphasized that India belongs to each and every Indian citizen, and this sense of belonging should bring people together and become a part of the development.

In his second radio address on November 2, 2014, the Prime Minister talked about his government’s initiatives like those related to specially-abled children and cleaning the country besides social problems like drug addiction and poverty alleviation. He also paid tributes to the armed forces while referring to his visit to the Siachen glacier in Jammu & Kashmir on the occasion of Diwali on October 23, 2014 where soldiers live in difficult and freezing conditions.

With regard to specially-abled children, he announced that a special scholarship will be given to 1000 such children by the the Ministry of HRD(Human Resource Development). Rs. 1 lakh each will also be given to all Kendriya Vidyalayas and central universities for creating infrastructure for the specially-abled children, he added to this statement. His cleanliness campaign has generated a lot of awareness among the people, with the maximum impact created upon the children. Linking the cleanliness drive to healthcare, he said poor people were the worst affected by dirt as they fall ill which affects their livelihood.

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Mentioning about the use of Khadi, Narendra Modi replied that the sale of khadi products had increased by almost 125 percent, as he urged people to purchase khadi in his first radio address. Referring to this statement, Modi added that he never said to become a khadiwadi(a person making Khadi cloth) but to buy some Khadi to help the poor.

In his third radio address to the nation on December 14, 2014, the Prime Minister chose to talk about the menace of drug abuse exclusively, which is affecting some North and West Indian states. Calling the devastating drug addiction menace as a national pain, a concerned Narendra Modi said that the money spent by the youth predominantly on expensive drugs is like ‘ending your lives’. He also suggested that the youth could be falling into the drug problem because they have no goals or good thinking about life. In this context, parents should take some time out from their busy schedules and help their children to fix goals and work to achieve those.

In an emotional appeal to youths to say no to drugs, asserting that its consumption is neither a ‘style statement nor cool’, he also mentioned that a toll-free helpline would be set up soon to assist those affected persons seeking solutions. He said that the society as well as the government will have to work together to combat the problem effectively. Drug addiction is considered a malaise filled 3D – darkness, destruction and devastation, as it leads to the dark alleys of destruction and devastation to the younger generation. The Prime Minister added that a thinking process should begin immediately, to ensure that the country gets rid of this problem and further mentioned that he will try to involve celebrities from Bollywood, sports and other fields to campaign for a ‘drug-free India’.

In his fourth radio address last month, the showstopper was not only Modi but Barack Obama, who hopped in to India as the chief guest for the 65th Republic Day Parade on January 26, for the very first time. He also became the second President of USA to visit India, while still in power, after Dwight Eisenhower, who visited India in 1951 and 1952 under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru.

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On January 28, 2015, along with Modi, the US President also joined the Mann Ki Baat programme, that aired live at 8pm. The full transcript has been given in the next article as it is too huge for me to present here, given the WordPress’ strict page rules. It is indeed almost like two persons sharing their personal views to all over the world, about their experiences, obstacles and suggestions to overcome them.

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