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New Delhi: Continuing with his tradition of communicating directly with the countrymen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the nation through his monthly radio address titled ‘Mann ki Baat’.

The two leaders shared several personal moments as they took questions from people across the country.

“Namaste! Thank you PM Modi for your kind words and incredible hospitality. I appreciate your (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) strong personal commitment to improve ties between our countries,” said President Obama, who wrapped up his three-day visit to India earlier on Tuesday.

Obama said the US and India are natural partners and two diverse societies dedicated to empowering individuals. “India and the US are natural partners, because we have so much in common. We are two great democracies, two innovative economies, two diverse societies dedicated to empowering individuals,” he said

Obama also pointed out people in the US were excited about the myriad efforts of Prime Minister Modi. “US people are excited about Prime Minister’s effort to reduce poverty, empower women, provide electricity access, clean energy,” he said.

Modi explained the meaning of Barack and said his life is an inspiration for all. “In Swahili, Barack means ‘one who is blessed’. In African cultures, they say ‘I am because we are’. It is similar to our saying ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’,” Modi said adding, “President Obama’s life, the way he has raised his daughters will serve as an inspiration for us – ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ is our social obligation which all of us must fulfill.”

Addressing the radio programme together, Modi and Obama answered questions asked by the listeners from all over India.

Asked about a photograph of Modi outside White House during his early days, Modi said, “I never imagined I will get a chance to visit the White House.”

Answering the same question Obama said,” When I first went to White House, I stood outside fence, I didn’t imagine that I would be visiting and living there.”

“I had never thought that I will ever become the PM. I keep telling everyone, ‘don’t dream of becoming someone, but dream of doing something.’ I dream of doing things for the country,” Modi said when asked if he had ever dreamt of becoming a prime minister.

“When I was a child I got to read about Benjamin Franklin and his life story, I was inspired by him,” Modi mentioned in his address.

When asked about his daughters, Obama said they were deeply moved by India’s independence movement and by the role that Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi played in non-violent strategies, which influenced the civil rights movements in his country.

The US President said both his daughters, Sasha and Malia, wanted to come to India but they had school each time he had taken a trip to the country.

“They very much wanted to come, they are fascinated by India. Unfortunately each time that I have taken a trip here they had school. They are fascinated by the culture and history of India, in part because of my influence,” he said.

Obama said when he goes back, he would tell his daughters that ‘India is as magnificent as they imagined’.

“And I am quite sure that they are going to insist that I bring them back the next time I visit. It may not be during my Presidency, but afterwards they will definitely want to come and visit,” he added.

However, Modi was quick to reply on Obama’s statement. “I want to tell you, you can come any time, India will always welcome you and your children.”

Obama also said his government was looking forward to partnering with the Indian government and non-governmental organisations around broader public health issues such as obesity. He added he was very proud of the work his wife and US First Lady Michelle Obama had done on this issue.

Obama said, “The public health infrastructure around the world needs to be improved. I think the Prime Minister is doing a great job in focusing on these issues here in India. And India has a lot to teach many other countries who may not be advancing as rapidly in improving this public health sector.”

On Monday, Modi tweeted along with a photograph showing him with Obama with a caption: “Sharing our ‘Mann Ki Baat’ during the recording of the radio programme. Tune in on 27th January at 8 PM IST for the special episode! #MannKiBaat #Radio #USA #India.”

Modi said he was very grateful that Obama joined him in his address to the nation.  “I’m also very grateful to the people of this country, because I know that people in every town, in every city, in every street are listening to this program.  And we hope that this program, that the voice that we are spreading will be with you always,” Modi said.

“I do have an appeal.  I have a suggestion.  We are going to take out an e-book of this conversation between Barack and me today.  And I would like to ask those listeners who have been listening to this program today to participate.  The best hundred suggestions that we get will be included in this e-book that we plan to bring out.  So whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or any other online medium, use hashtag #YesWeCan.  Write to us using this hashtag #YesWeCan.  The issue: Alleviate poverty, hashtag #YesWeCan.  Quality health care to all, hashtag #YesWeCan.  Jobs for all, hashtag #YesWeCan. Global peace and progress, hashtag #YesWeCan,” he said.

“I want that you join this movement, that you write in with this hashtag.  Give us your thoughts, give us your ideas.  We will select the best hundred ideas.  And the conversation that we’ve had today, Barack and me, we will be taking up these ideas, including them in that e-book.  And we hope that this will become everyone’s thoughts – the heart-to-heart thoughts of everyone.”

This was Modi’s fourth radio address to the nation. However, this month’s episode was very special as it had US President Barack Obama sharing his thoughts with the Prime Minister on a host of issues. His previous episodes of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ were aired on October 3, November 2 and December 14 last year.

(With inputs from agencies)


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