Modi’s silent revolution

Primepost News Desk

With the 12th edition of Mann ki Baat broadcast on Sunday (September 20), Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed one year of his monthly address to the people through All India Radio. In a way, he revived the lowly –and sneered at– medium in the digital age.

When Modi launched it on October 3, 2014, with an appeal to people to buy khadi, his attempt to reach out to rural population had received an unfair amount of flak. Skeptics thought the programme would peter out. But Modi has proved them wrong as he claimed on Sunday that it has been going strong and it is helping to usher in a silent revolution.  The anniversary episode comes at a time when Bihar is going to polls in a few weeks’ time and amidst Congress objections that PM’s radio address was a violation of poll code in force in Bihar. However, the Election Commission dismissed the Congress plea.

Contrary to Congress fears, Modi had not touched upon any poll-related issue. His radio address was simply a wrap-up of the previous episodes and complimenting the people for their response to his initiatives and sharing their views with him. Among the pet projects he mentioned in his previous editions were Clean India campaign, giving up gas subsidy, farmers’ issues, students’ problems, drug abuse, pensions to military personnel, etc. He roped in US President Barack Obama in his January 27, 2015 address when he was in Delhi as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.

In the recap address, Modi said he had learnt the power and reach of democracy through his monthly address. “Mann ki Baat has taught me a lot, about the strength that lies in the hands of the common people to bring changes in society,” he said, adding, “I made simple suggestions to people and I have got massive response.” Modi said the lakhs of letters he had received opened his eyes to the numerous problems people face vis-à-vis government programmes,  including at the grassroots level.

Citing examples, Modi said “selfie with daughter” had given girls pride and his appeal to send photos of interesting spots from across India had revealed places unknown to many, not even to the tourism department.

Similarly, khadi sales have doubled, not due to government intervention but due to the awareness of the people, Modi said.

The Prime Minister said the government could work together with the society like a catalyst to bring about changes and the government was working on some of the suggestions made by the people.

It is a welcome move in the sense that the monthly programme tries to bridge the gap between the government and the governed. The issues Modi is dealing with in his radio address are only a miniscule of the country’s innumerable problems. Most of these are common, related to civic issues and are solvable at the local and state level. Still, they keep piling up because of civic and state government officials’ apathy. Mann ki Baat  provides a platform for the PM to get feedback directly from the people living in the remote areas. Unfortunately, such arrangement is absent at states’ level. If chief ministers don’t want to face critical appraisal of their performance, at least they should have an easy accessible system where the public can vent their grievances. Some states do have but they have remained largely ineffective. What we need is proactive governance and speedy action. Modi is scoring on the first but on the second is he?

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