Case Study: मन की बात Modi’s Man Ki Baat: Communication: Open Governance

Connect with people and bypass the media


In today’s world, where governance is becoming more and more open, media is playing a critical role. Political Journalism seems like a big giant that can dictate politics. As we have seen in recent US elections, media plays a vital role.

In the world filled up with the Internet, smartphones and computers radio is almost dead. Let’s discuss and study how the democratically elected leader is communicating with his citizens in 2016 by bypassing country’s hostile media.


India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is always as a prime target for India’s media, especially English Media. We have to understand the context why?

India is the world’s biggest democracy founded on the core principles of “Secularism” and “Pluralism”.

In popular culture, it’s a fashion to be liberal and anything that is a little right wing is labeled as “fascist”. The Muslim Indians enjoys a great deal of luxury within the democratic framework; the super liberalism has made the political situation that bad that Muslim Indians enjoys a “VETO” power in the political framework of India’s democracy.

Let’s go back a little further to understand the context. In the year of 2002, when Modi was a Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat, a series of anti-Muslim riots were carried out by radical Hindus in which more than 2000 Muslims were burned alive. It started with Muslims attacking a train of Hindu Pilgrims burning alive about 200 Hindus. Modi’s government failed to handle the situation administratively and suddenly the chief minister became a target for liberal media. He was criticized at world level and media carried out their crusade to remove him from the government. Because of media’s campaign against him, US State Department prohibited him from entering the US, the same way he was denied entry to EU and the UK.

However, Modi was not discouraged by media’s propaganda. He focused on economic development of the state. He improved his governance and made business friendly policies and developed “Gujarat Model of Economic Development”. The results were awesome; Gujarat emerged as the best economy of India. The result was he was re-elected as a Chief Minister for the third time! Please note that after 2002, not a single incident where there was a major breach in law enforcement happened in Gujarat.

Modi’s Political Party promoted him for the National Elections to participate as a Prime Ministerial candidate. Also note that his political party is a right wing party accused of killing Gandhi. His entire political campaign was based on economic development and “development” was a key issue. He won the elections with a landslide victory in 2014 elections.

As a Prime Minister, now he has to deliver what he promised and that is aggressive foreign, defense and economic policies. However, media is his biggest enemy. During the elections, media was completely against him but still managed to win the elections!

Media often “twist” his statements and present it in another way, how to get over this?

Challenge 1: How to bypass media and still reach to the people?

मन की बात Maan ki Baat:

During 30’s US President Roosevelt used radio to talk directly with the American citizens. Modi came up with this innovative solution to start radio program where he will speak with the country directly and ask for their feedback on how he is governing? People can also suggest the next topic that they want to discuss with PM. The radio broadcast is called as “मन की बात Maan ki Baat: – means “from my heart” or “heart to heart.” 

This is the first time when an Indian PM decided to speak with the people directly. Normally people used to see politicians at the time of elections, but this guy seems different!

In India, Television can reach only 18% of the population, on the other hand, radio can reach over 90%! There are no doubts that radio has immense connectivity. Modi used the state-owned “All India Radio” to broadcast his message. Surprisingly, this move became so popular that the revenue through “advertisement” increased generating profits for the state. The broadcast is not just limited to radio but it is also broadcasted on state-owned television “Door Darshan”. No more private media who twists the news to generate TRP and sensational news products!

Challenge 2: What about urban India? Developed Metro Citizens and Smart Phone users who does not have a radio or does not watch TV?

How can PM address another India? The developed Metro India? They don’t have radio except in their car! Here is the solution. The government developed a “Narendra Modi” app for iPhone and Google Play where citizens can listen to the PM in all 22 official languages!

He also has provision to e-mail him through PM’s website and have an Open Forum to discuss current Governance moves.

Inconvenience caused by recent government actions & digital payments:

In order to curb black money and unaccounted bribe money, Modi took a courageous step to take high denomination notes out of circulation. These moves have caused a great deal of inconvenience for the people. He is also promoting the “cashless” transactions like debit and intract. This is new for India as primarily cash is the primary mode of transaction. Because of these moves, it is causing a great deal of inconvenience.

He promotes people to discuss these issues and asks for their opinion on how to resolve the problems caused by such moves.

Challenge 3: How to connect with the urban youth?

Like Canada, the urban youth of India is an English Speaking, Pop Music listening and Hollywood movie watching culture. They don’t care about politics or what’s happening in the government?

Modi is very active on Facebook and Twitter; however, the youth is not interested in adding the old guy, the Prime Minister as a Facebook friend.

PM launched a video game that is free that you can download on Google Play and App Store. The Modi Game is a level based game where the explains youth the challenges he is facing and achievements that he has achieved. The game also asks for various suggestions on issues.


For a Good Governance, Communicating with citizens is extremely important. It is required to keep citizens in a loop before and during making strategically important government decisions. If media is hostile, bypass media and connect with people directly as media is not a real stakeholder, the real stakeholders are the people and only people!

Creativity and Innovation in Government is a key and a leader must come out with creative ideas for the betterment of his people.

Thanks for reading!

~ Sam

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