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EAM S Jaishankar (file photo)

Somerset (New Jersey): Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ is the story of a changing India – a New India – and is a connection between India and the world, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Sunday as he joined the community members at a special event to listen to the 100th episode of the monthly radio programme.

Jaishankar, who is here after concluding his official visit to Guyana, Panama, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, made the remarks while addressing the community event, attended by the members of the Indian community in the early hours of Sunday.

“In many ways, the story of Mann Ki Baat is the story of the last nine years, is the story of changing India. It is the emergence of a New India’, it is the connection between India and the world – that this is today a different India, a more aware India, in many ways, I would say a more aspirational India which is connecting to the world,” Jaishankar said.

India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Consul General of India in New York Randhir Jaiswal, Indian-American Senator Kevin Thomas, Indian-American Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and Edison Mayor Sam Joshi as well as other prominent members of the Indian-American community were among the guests present for the special live broadcast.

Jaishankar highlighted the impact that the conversations and ideas in Mann Ki Baat’ have had on the people in India and how it has motivated them.

He said while there have been episodes that have motivated and inspired people since it first started in October 2014, and there have been “motivational moments” when Modi has called on the citizens to move forward, there have been some “difficult points” too such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The monthly programme was first aired on October 3, 2014, and is broadcast on the last Sunday of every month at 11 am on the All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD) network. The programme has garnered a massive following across the world.

“The Mann Ki Baat of the COVID period to me was very special because at that time the people of the country needed courage and that Mann Ki Baat gave,” he said.

Jaishankar added that today the “big preoccupation” of the country is India’s G20 Presidency.

“There have been others who have done G20 before. I don’t think frankly the world noticed it very much. Our G20 is different because nobody else has done G20 in 60 cities as a national celebration. And it has happened because the Prime Minister has prepared the entire country for how to embrace” this occasion, the minister said.

The 100th episode of the radio programme was broadcast live at the community event, with members of the community, young children and the elderly turning up in huge numbers at 1:30 am (local time) Sunday to participate in the event and jointly listen to the Prime Minister.

Jaishankar told the audience that 10 years ago if he had mentioned that at 2:10 at night everyone would be assembling at some place and the “foreign minister of India would be with you, listening to the Prime Minister of India, none of you would have believed me,” he said to laughter and applause from the gathering.

He underscored that the broadcast of the 100th episode of Mann Ki Baat is an important as well as an “emotional” day for many, particularly for those in the government who have a deeper attachment to the broadcast because “somewhere, in some form, we have directly contributed to it.”

Jaishankar also said that he knew that the best place to be to listen to the 100th episode of Mann Ki Baat’ “is in the tri-state area”, as the audience broke into a huge round of applause and cheering.

“There is a reason,” he said, “because when I think of Prime Minister Modi, when I think of my own association with him, my mind goes back to 2014, his visit to America, to Madison Square Garden,” when Modi had addressed the diaspora community at a grand community reception.

Jaishankar said Modi is considered the world’s most tech-savvy Prime Minister but he uses radio, a medium which is 100 years old, to communicate with the citizens.

Jaishankar noted that there is an “emotional connect” between the Prime Minister and the country and the people. Through Mann Ki Baat’, Modi has managed to develop a “very unique bonding” between a Prime Minster, a leader, a Pradhan Sevak’ and the people and the world.

He said through Mann Ki Baat’, Prime Minister Modi has connected the world to India and in many ways India to the world and often this connection has been done through what the Indian-origin and diaspora community has done and accomplished.

Jaishankar cited that in his programmes over the years, Modi has spoken about how Bhagwad Gita has been taught in Brazil, there was a Mahabharat project in Japan, how Khadi is propagated in Mexico, how Indian music is sung by non-Indians in different parts of the world.

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He said that the community members are attending the event as they share collective bonding with the Prime Minister.

On the occasion, young students also displayed agility through the exceptional performance of the Mallakhamba. Modi mentioned Mallakhamba during the 70th episode of Mann Ki Baat.

In the Mann Ki Baat’ radio broadcast hosted by Prime Minister Modi, he addresses the people of the country on different issues.

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