Mann Ki Baat’, translated variously as ‘Speech from the Heart’, ‘Talk from the Heart’, ‘Inner Thoughts’, is an Indian radio programme hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver his voice and ideas to the general masses of India.
Through this programme, the Prime Minister addresses 1.3 billion Indians directly on a multitude of issues. He talks about issues of importance in the lives of the common man besides policies and programmes through which they can benefit. According to a statement by the Information and Broadcasting Minister in the Rajya Sabha in July 2021, the main purpose of the program is to ‘establish a dialogue with the citizens on issues of day-to-day governance.’
When it started, All India Radio, Doordarshan’s DD National and DD News were chosen as broadcasting mediums to reach the countrymen. Since television connection was and is still not available everywhere in India, especially in the isolated, rural and less developed regions, radio was chosen to be the medium for the programme owing to its wider reach.
An estimated 90% of the total Indian population is reachable over the medium. The first of the 20-minute long episodes were aired on October 3, 2014. Since then, the Prime Minister has interacted with the public 88 times to date. Mann Ki Baat has been successful in engaging people of every age and region. It has had an immense impact on shaping the public discourse.
Being a charismatic leader, the Prime Minister whose energetic speeches have the power to pull crowds of millions from even the remotest corners in India, Mann Ki Baat was slated to be a success from its onset. But its influence has gone beyond the expectations of everyone. This was proven by a study on the influence of Mann Ki Baat conducted by Prof Pulak Ghosh of IIM-Bangalore, V. Kamakoti of IIT Madras, and Bhuvanesh Pareek from IIM Indore based on data analytics and algorithms applied to keywords. The findings proved beyond doubt that Prime Minister Modi was the single biggest influencer online in India.
Mann Ki Baat started like a breath of fresh air on the radio and people began talking about it. The euphoria continued to build around it. That’s when it dawned on the Prime Minister’s wellwishers and the naysayers that it is going to take a gigantic shape.
The reason why people embraced the programme with warmth is that the PM talks to the citizens on issues of importance to them. The topics seem to be carefully chosen where public awareness is genuinely needed. The PM has touched upon topics from Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan, Mudra Scheme among dozens of Government programmes, besides health issues, hygiene and environment etc.
The study found that the Prime Minister’s outreach could be categorised into three buckets—personalities-based where such personalities have brought a change in society, social awareness and Government programmes. It found that many times the Government brings in good schemes and programmes for people but the people remain unaware of those because of a communication gap. Mann Ki Baat programme has bridged this gap to a large extent.
Mann Ki Baat has not only generated huge interest among the listeners but also influenced the discussions around the topics mentioned by the PM in the show. The interest in the mentioned topics was 5,000 times higher than average. The online searches for the topics mentioned by PM Modi remained on an average four times higher in the following few weeks. For example, it was noticed that on Teacher’s Day, average interest in Google searches increased by 1.8 times on an average and a maximum of 2,500 times when surfers wanted to know about the reason for its commemoration or about teachers in general.
After winning the historic mandate in 2014, in his first Mann Ki Baat, PM Modi especially spoke about water conservation. It was one of the main points of this Mann Ki Baat. At the same time, he stressed the collective efforts of the Indian society toward the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan. The PM was at his motivating best when he said, “When we come together and work hard, then most difficult tasks can be accomplished successfully.” He drew a parallel between the efforts toward Swacch Bharat and water conservation. He said that like Swachhata, let us make water conservation a Jan Andolan or people’s movement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi invites people to share their thoughts on themes and issues that matter to them for various episodes of ‘Mann ki Baat’. The 88th episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ was aired on April 24, 2022. Prior to this episode, sharing the MyGov invitation, the Prime Minister tweeted, “Through #MannKiBaat we celebrate the extraordinary feats of grassroots level change-makers. Do you know of such inspiring life journeys? Share them for this month’s programme on the 24th. Write on MyGov, NaMo App or dial 1800-11-7800 to record a message.” There are some notable things about the programme.
Many prominent guests and even listeners have been invited to the show by PM Modi to interact with him and thus the nation. Among the most prominent ones have been the then American President Barack Obama in the fourth episode of Mann Ki Baat, which aired on 27 January 2015. World-famous singer late Lata Mangeshkar was also a special guest on the show on September 29, 2019.
A telephonic study by All India Radio in November 2018 found that Selfie with Daughter, Incredible India, Fit India and Sandesh to Soldiers were among the campaigns having the greatest impact on the listeners. On the other side, the most remembered topics were the promotion of Khadi, Drug-Free India and Team Tarini.
In 2017, an AIR survey found that most of the listeners came from Bihar, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh; while the states of Andhra Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh had the lowest awareness. Thus, to expand the reach of the programme as far as possible, from June 2017 onwards, Mann Ki Baat was made available in regional languages also. The programme is now broadcast in 21 regional languages, 31 local dialects and 16 foreign languages.
Thirty-four DD channels and approximately 91 private satellite TV channels broadcast this radio programme throughout India. Television viewership of Mann Ki Baat on the DD Network increased from 100 million viewers between June 2018 to December 2018 to 132 million between June 2019 and December 2019. The programme achieved a reach of 143 million in the year 2020, as per a statement of the Government in Parliament. Mann Ki Baat is broadcast on 326 channels of AIR Network on MW, SW, FM and DRM besides the YouTube channel of AIR. It is simultaneously broadcast on radio, TV and digital platforms of Prasar Bharati. NaMo app is yet another channel to listen to the programme.
To reach the younger generation, Mann Ki Baat is now also available on all major audio or music platforms such as Amazon Music, Spotify, Hungama, Gaana, JioSaavn and Wynk. Mann Ki Baat has become a mass movement, one that is helping in shaping the destiny of our nation through people’s ideas and thus their participation in governance.
A SOCIAL REVOLUTION ON RADIO
Mann Ki Baat has become one of the most popular programmes in the history of radio, not just in India but indeed worldwide. But how did this happen? What is the behind-the-scenes story that made this happen? The book MANN KI BAAT- A SOCIAL REVOLUTION ON RADIO by Bluekraft Digital Foundation answers these questions and some more. It presents many interesting inside stories and facts about the programme. The book recites the common thread of positivity and optimism that Prime Minister Modi has woven through his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and how this thread has been picked up by common Indians to convert it into a mass movement. The book provides a great opportunity to all Indians to get to know some hitherto unknown facets of the Prime Minister’s thinking, his beliefs and his thought process.
Prime Minister Modi is himself quoted in many chapters of the book and the insights that emerge are perhaps the most important contribution that this book makes.
There are interesting anecdotes shared by the members of the Prime Minister’s core team and people from AIR and MyGov to quench people’s curiosity about the minute but interesting details of how the idea of a radio programme came up, how the name and frequency were decided, and how the format was chalked out, among other things.
The book was also presented by PM Modi to the then Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe, at Mahatma Mandir, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on September 14, 2017.