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World leaders have shown interest in replicating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio conversations with the citizens as they believe that this is the best medium to connect with the masses.

Multiple editions of Mann Ki Baat, a book of Modi’s interactions with Indians, would soon be printed in different languages and digitally offered to countries stretching from Japan to Tanzania, claimed a person in the know.

“World leaders want to know how to share an idea – potentially transformative ones – with people without Internet access and those who skip television but are hooked on radio while travelling, also at work,” says Mohan Ramaswamy, MD (India and South Asia), Lexis Nexis, publishers of the first edition of Mann Ki Baat.

Ramaswamy says the book will be offered in digital version and pushed on various platforms like Amazon for quick-reads. There are chances that the second edition of the book with some 21-odd episodes could hit the stands next year. “The episodes are offering the PM a good platform to connect with the masses. Now, world leaders want to read up the book and replicate the same,” added Ramaswamy.

Demand for the book has come from far-flung Tanzania, where farmers – 75 percent of the country’s 55 million population – relying on the radio to pick up modern farming techniques are keen to know subjects the Indian PM includes in his talks.

In Japan, whose prime minister Shinzo Abe wrote a foreword for the inaugural edition of Mann Ki Baat, curiosity is high as to how the PM of the world’s second most populated nation keeps in touch with the masses.

Interestingly, radio has made its impact in Japan where many have taken to new business practices, changed daily behaviours, societal trends and shared personal tragedies to remain bonded with neighbours and colleagues. And these changes, thanks to the radio, are coming from a more grass roots level.

Now, politicians in the island nation want to push what they claim is a growing sense of personal responsibility among its citizens so that they lift their desire to contribute to society, especially in the aftermath of national calamities like earthquakes or tornados.
“Suddenly, there is a renewed interest among the world leaders in reaching out through the radio,” says Ramaswamy.

Consider this one.

This May, traders from India were asked at an agriculture fair in Europe if they could offer extra supplies of black rice, harvested only in India and China. And if they could ensure the supplies, then representatives of global supermarket chains said they could even use radio as a medium to reach their customers. “Some European importers wanted to know if the benefits of black rice – touted as the new cancer fighting super food – was promoted through the radio in India because they had similar plans,” said an Indian exporter who attended the fair.

Demand for the book’s digital version is high in Central Asia, where many countries have serious infrastructure limitations in sharing ideas with their population. “They want to re-discover the magic of radio, and its potential of social revolution,” says Ramaswamy.

Interestingly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has often used the radio to feed information to the hinterland across the world because it is the only medium the rural folks feel they can trust. For the records, women in Kenya – claim studies – admitted benefiting from interactive broadcasts because the broadcast had the potential to considerably improve community engagement, beating messages offered through television or handsets.

The cheapest medium always works best, Modi has shown the world.