‘Building Partnership Between People And Government’
BW Businessworld speaks to Mohan N. Ramaswamy, Managing Director India, South Asia of LexisNexis on why it published “Mann Ki Baat-a social revolution on radio”
Mann Ki Baat’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popular and ubiquitous monthly radio address has developed into a tour-de-force in itself. Ever since the programme began on Vijaya Dashami in 2014 (3-Oct-2014) there has been considerable curiosity about the origins of the programme, the idea behind it and the mind of the man behind the inspiring voice that reaches millions every month. BW Businessworld speaks to Mohan N. Ramaswamy, Managing Director India, South Asia of LexisNexis on why it published “Mann Ki Baat-a social revolution on radio”. The publishing house had earlier published earlier published the 2nd edition of Prime Minister’s book on climate change - ‘Convenient Action – Continuity for Change’, which was released at COP21/CMP11 in Paris in 2015.
This book also provides a great opportunity to all Indians to get to know some hitherto unknown facets of Prime Minister’s thinking, his beliefs and his thought process. Prime Minister Modi is himself quoted in many chapters of the book and the insights that emerge is perhaps the most important contribution that this book makes. There are interesting anecdotes shared by the members of the Prime Minister’s core team and people from AIR and MyGov to quench people’s curiosity about the minute but interesting details of how the idea of a radio programme came up, how the name and frequency were decided, and how the format was chalked out, among other things.
LexisNexis is known for publishing legal books. Why you published “Mann Ki Baat-a social revolution on radio”?
We, at LexisNexis, are constantly working towards bringing everyone under the ambit of the Rule of Law through our day-to-day business operations, products and services, and actions as a corporate citizen. And taking this forward, we have been engaging in strategic partnerships, like these, to bring about a positive change. We are privileged to participate in this initiative to build a positive partnership between people and the government through impactful social initiatives. The episodes narrated in this contemporary and relevant work address a wide array of social and economic issues, and topics of national importance drawing on day-to-day experiences of citizens.
What kind of involvement LexisNexis had in developing this title?
We have worked in close coordination with BlueKraft Digital Foundation, a non-government organization in the public policy and data science domain, which played a pivotal role in building the narrative for the book along with the office of the Prime Minister. LexisNexis had been an active participant in the discussions between the PMO and Bluekraft not only in its capacity of providing operational efficiency and editorial competence but also in driving major marketing and sales initiatives for the promotion of the book.
Was the Prime Minister or his office involved in making of this book? What was the level of engagement?
As I mentioned earlier, LexisNexis had been actively involved with BlueKraft Digital Foundation in developing this book, be it doing fact-finding, collating actual experiences as shared by the Prime Minister in creating various campaigns, or identifying various anecdotes as shared by the members of the PMO. I would like to add that LexisNexis had been fortunate enough as this is our second publication with the PMO. We had earlier published the 2nd edition of Prime Minister’s book on climate change - ‘Convenient Action – Continuity for Change’, which was released at COP21/CMP11 in Paris in 2015.
What are the interesting aspects of this book that readers should know?
Touching every facet of the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ series, the book shows how a Prime Minister has given a voice and a medium to his people to reach out to him directly. This book captures the very essence of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and explains its phenomenal success that has touched every concern of Indian citizenry. There are interesting anecdotes shared by the members of the Prime Minister’s team and AIR to quench people’s curiosity about the minute but interesting details of how the idea of the radio programme came up, how the name and frequency were decided, and how the format was chalked out, among other things. The book also entails a detailed study of the correspondences that come to the Prime Minister before every ‘Mann Ki Baat’ episode – lakhs of letters, emails, posts on MyGov.in, inputs on the ‘Narendra Modi Mobile App’ and inputs from various Ministries and MPs. While preparing this book, we undertook an intensive study of every ‘Mann Ki Baat’ transcript. Beyond the themes and the overall narratives of every episode, each transcript is also a treasure trove of knowledge that deserves to be stored for posterity.
The idea to have a QR code at the end of each chapter in the book is very intriguing. How did it happen?
In India, we have 24 major languages, and not everyone is well-versed with Hindi or English, so to reach that wide segmented audience, we thought of embracing the benefits of technology. These QR codes not only enable the readers to listen to the corresponding episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ anytime anywhere at their convenience, but also provide a choice of 22 major languages to them.
The book is available in English and Hindi. Are there plans to make it multi-lingual?
We believe that ‘Mann Ki Baat’ should reach every Indian. We started this process with the publication of the book in Hindi and English. For our next step, we would be closely working with BlueKraft Digital Foundation and exploring the option of publishing ‘Mann Ki Baat’ in other vernacular languages to reach every Indian in every nook and corner of the country.
How has been the journey for LexisNexis in India?
LexisNexis has been successfully growing its business over the last two decades in India, acquiring some of the finest legal publishing brands and imprints like Law Book Company, NM Tripathi, Wadhwa Nagpur and Universal Law Publishing. We are a proud publisher of the works of legendary and stalwart authors like Nani Palkhivala, DD Basu, Ramaiya, Sarkar, Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, Chaturvedi & Pithisaria, Justice Krishna Iyer and GP Singh to name a few. Adjusting to the paradigm shift in the publishing landscape, we have adopted a perfect mix of traditional and new-age publication trends. We have been making significant investments in developing digital solutions, like Lexis India for research and reference purposes and solutions like Lexis® Practical Guidance for integrated workflow, risk and compliance management. And so far, we have been able to successfully reinvent ourselves as a leading information solutions provider. Also with a broader purpose and common theme of ‘Advancing the Rule of Law’ that unifies LexisNexis® across the globe, we envisage to continually develop solutions that help customers make better, faster and effective decisions, achieve better results and be more productive.
What is the next title that is in the pipeline from LexisNexis?
LexisNexis is known for providing the readers with some of the finest literary works; with Prime Minister’s Convenient Action – Continuity for Change, our coffee table book on 100 Legal Luminaries of India and now ‘Mann Ki Baat’, the list goes on. Apart from this, as part of our regular publishing program, we are continuously on the lookout to add illustrious publications to the legal literary world. We will be publishing titles like D D Basu on Constitution, Pollock & Mulla on Contract Law, Bachawat on Arbitration, etc., presently, to name a few.
About Mohan Ramaswamy
He heads LexisNexis’s India Business and Operations. His key responsibilities include driving digital footprint for LexisNexis® in India to build a positive future for the business and drive key partnerships with the government and key industry bodies. Mohan, along with his leadership team, is committed and passionate about ‘Advancing the Rule of Law’ by building great products and solutions that help professionals take better and confident decisions and enable them to deliver improved outcomes. Prior to joining LexisNexis, Mohan had worked as the COO for Dun & Bradstreet in India where he spent about eight years working across various business roles.