PM’s Mann Ki Baat: It is not as popular as claimed
According to a survey published by CSDS, even in households with a high media presence, two-fifths had not heard the programme
The 100th episode of Prime Minister’s Mann Ki Baat (PMMKB) on radio was aired on April 30, 2023. For more than two weeks preceding it, citizens were called on to witness the “historic” airing as the PM would “directly connect with people”. This entire promotional onslaught hides the lack of popularity of the programme even amongst BJP supporters.
According to a survey published by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and Lokniti in October 2022, even in households with a high media presence (TV, internet, stereo) two-fifths had not heard Mann ki Baat in the last one year and three in every ten had only heard it once or twice.
The report titled ‘Media in India: Access, Practices, Concerns and Effects’ has political scientists Sanjay Kumar, Suhas Palshikar and Sandeep Shastri as its advisors. The findings are based on a sample survey of 7,463 Indian citizens aged 15 years and above in 19 States and Union Territories of India - Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The first episode of 30-minute PMMKB was first aired on October 3, 2014, and since then it is broadcast on the last Sunday of every month on All India Radio and Doordarshan. A week before the centenary episode was aired, the Information and Broadcasting ministry issued a letter ‘advising’ community radio stations to send a one-minute audio clip of the broadcast consisting of 25 seconds of the initial portion broadcast and 25 seconds of [the] last portion of broadcast with the name of the community radio station, immediately after completion of the broadcast. The ministry also wanted photograph proof of people listening to the 100th episode.
In the CSDS report, under the section titled “PM’S Mann Ki Baat: A reality check”, it was found that when respondents were asked about how often they had listened to the programme on radio, TV or internet “during the last one year” (2021), only one in ten said that they had listened to it quite regularly (5 per cent every month and 5 per cent most months). Three-fifths of the citizens said that they had not listened to it at all.
The report states that across the nation, South Indians are the least likely to have listened to the programme, most probably due to the fact that the PM’s address is in Hindi with the percentage of non-listeners being pegged at 75 per cent. That being said, even in the Hindi-speaking States, popularity/listenership of PMMKB was rather low. Across all regions, a majority of the citizens hadn’t listened to the programme at all in the last year. At least 63 per cent of the citizens in north-west and east India hadn’t heard the programme at all. This was followed by 62 per cent in non-Hindi speaking states.
What was a surprising find in the report was that over half of those leaning towards BJP don’t seem to be listening to the PM’s radio programme and amongst the few who listen to the programme regularly, BJP is highly popular. At least 51 per cent of BJP-leaning respondents had never listened to PMMKB and only 7 per cent of their supporters listened to it almost always. Another 7 per cent of their supporters heard the programme most months. Of the few citizens who listened to Mann Ki Baat almost every month, 58 per cent were BJP-leaning.
Citizens from households with high media presence also don’t listen to PMMKB all that regularly, although they are more likely to be regular than others. In households with high media presence, 42 per cent had never listened to the PM’s programme, and in houses with medium media presence, 65 per cent hadn’t listened to PMMKB.
The 100th episode promotion
Just ahead of the 100th episode, IIM-Rohtak released a survey stating that there were 23 crore regular listeners of Mann Ki Baat, said a PIB press release. (https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1919261) Moreover, the survey claimed that the radio programme had reached 100 crore listeners and it even influenced behavior with 60 per cent being interested in nation building.
The study stated that it has tried to gauge the impact the programme has had on the population over the 99 editions so far. It stated that a majority of listeners have become aware of governments working and 73 per cent are optimistic and feel the country “is going to progress”.
The tourism ministry had even announced "100 days of action" to mark the 100th episode of PMMKB. To commemorate the episode, 105 people were called to the national capital to attend a daylong programme, which was inaugurated by the Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar. Those who spoke at the national conclave on 'Mann ki Baat@100, included IPS officer Kiran Bedi, actor Aamir Khan, boxer Nikhat Zareen, Rio Paralympic silver medallist Deepa Malik.
Beginning the 100th episode, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that like Vijayadashmi, Mann Ki Baat has also become an occasion to celebrate Indians’ goodness, optimism, positivity and people’s participation. Modi said for him the Mann Ki Baat was a way of devotion and his favourite topic of discussion on the show was ‘cultural preservation’.
In the midst of hectic campaigning ahead of the Karnataka elections, the state BJP claimed that more than 10 lakh people participated in events marking the 100th episode in Karnataka.
The Congress took a dig at the 100th episode of PMMKB with the official handle stating that it was “Maun ki Baat on crucial issues like China, Adani, increasing economic inequalities, price rise of essential commodities, terror attacks in J&K, insults to women wrestlers, non-fulfilment of promises made to farmer organisations, corruption in so-called double-engine state governments like Karnataka, conmen with close links to BJP.