Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit a century on Sunday with the broadcast of Mann Ki Baat.
Mr Modi’s efforts and achievement on this score display the untiring consistency and discipline most Indians would attribute to a cricketer of the class of Rahul Dravid; his array of performances is executed with the élan and panache of an Amitabh Bachchan; its sustained popular appeal is of rockstar proportions; and has been delivered in style, a la Shah Rukh Khan.
The bulletins have the diversity and breadth of an Indian luncheon thali, creating ripples and echoing in a billion hearts like a rich, sonorous Carnatic or Hindustani morning raga, spiced with stories as rich, real and relatable as the Panchatantras, and in achieving all that, the PM’s voice has reached over a billion Indians, conquering hearts and minds, a voice now as easily recognised as a Rafi or a Mangeshkar, recreating a romance over the radio waves across metros and rural heartlands. Amidst it all, he has, however, managed to contribute to the humongous task of nation-building; echoing and amplifying aspirations and hopes, while curating stories of ordinary Indians and bringing them to the limelight,
It is possible that some would accuse Mr Modi of constantly keeping up a political campaign — an unending quest to set the narrative and push a message across for the next election. But in talking to Indians from truly every nook and corner of the land, and bringing them together, and then ensuring the party machinery never loses the gumption and enthusiasm to make it reach every Indian, on every platform, by harnessing technology and making it available in every language, Mann Ki Baat must be one of the world’s most prolific, versatile and engaging political conversations, a dialogue of 1.42 billion people with its most popular contemporary leader, repeating every month, yet never becoming lame or tedious.
For every critic of Mr Modi whose reductionist view is that he has ignored the media, or kept in under too severe a check, Mr Modi has actually created one of the most vibrant media programmes — and had he not been a politician but a journalist, or a social media content creator, every media group would have loved to have owned this brand — which would be worth more than almost any other.
Not since the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru has a leader connected and inspired so deeply, and regardless of howsoever the government may be criticised, it is an unimpeachable truth that Mr Modi is now the most iconic leader in Independent India whose appeal, sway and impact is truly without peer.
Congratulations, Prime Minister Modi. Please continue to inspire our nation and its citizens. Let more hearts come together over a dialogue… after all, what else is democracy about?