NEW DELHI, April 30 (PTI): UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay has hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s radio broadcast ‘Mann Ki Baat’, saying it is certainly one of the most celebrated, with its hundreds of millions of listeners in more than 50 languages and dialects.
Azoulay also featured in the broadcast on Sunday and thanked Modi for the opportunity to be a part of the 100th episode.
“UNESCO and India have a long common history. We have very strong partnerships together in all areas of our mandate – education, science, culture and information — and I would like to take this opportunity today to talk about the importance of education,” Azoulay said in the broadcast.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is working with its member states to ensure that everyone in the world has access to quality education by 2030, she said.
“With the largest population in the world, can you please explain the Indian way to achieving this objective,” Azoulay said to the prime minister.
“UNESCO also works to support culture and protect heritage and India is chairing the G20 this year. World leaders would be coming to Delhi for this event,” she said.
How does India want to put culture and education at the top of the international agenda, Azoulay asked.
“I once again thank you for this opportunity and convey my very best wishes through you to the people of India,” she said in the broadcast.
Calling Azoulay’s message “special”, Modi noted that she has given best wishes to all the people of the country for this wonderful journey of 100 episodes.
“I am happy to interact with you in the 100th Mann Ki Baat programme. I am also happy that you have raised the important issues of education and culture,” Modi said, addressing Azoulay.
Talking about her questions, Modi said the DG of UNESCO wanted to know about India’s efforts regarding education and cultural preservation.
Both these topics have been favorite topics of Mann Ki Baat, he said.
“Whether it is about education or culture, preservation or promotion, this has been an ancient tradition of India. The work that the country is doing in this direction today is really commendable,” he said.
“Be it the National Education Policy or the option of studying in a regional language, or technology integration in education, you will notice many such efforts. Years ago, programmes like ‘Gunotsav and Shala Praveshotsav’ had become a wonderful example of public participation in Gujarat to provide better education and reduce dropout rates,” the prime minister said.
“In Mann Ki Baat, we have highlighted the efforts of many such people, who are selflessly working for education,” he said and recalled a discussion about the late D Prakash Rao, a tea vendor in Odisha who was engaged in the mission of teaching poor children.
“Be it Sanjay Kashyap, who runs digital libraries in the villages of Jharkhand, or Hemlata N K, who helped many children through e-learning during Covid… we have referred to examples of many such teachers in Mann Ki Baat. We have also accorded a regular place to the efforts of cultural preservation in Mann Ki Baat,” he said.
“This year, where we are moving forward in the Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal, we are also presiding over the G20. This is also one of the reasons why our resolve to enrich diverse global cultures along with education has become stronger,” Modi said.
In her message for a special book for the 100th episode of Mann Ki Baat, Azoulay said with radio, it has never been so true that the medium is the message.
“Radio has been a part of every one of our lives since its invention a century ago. From traditional AM and FM frequencies to the far-reaching long wave, and now expanding into the ever-growing realm of digital radio, web radio, and podcasts, its accessibility continues to grow. It is truly a universal medium,” she said.
Radio also carries a message of proximity, affinity and diversity, she asserted.
UNESCO harnessed this potential in sub-Saharan Africa, forging a pedagogy through the airwaves for children isolated and deprived of school by the Covid pandemic, the UNESCO DG said.
“And we continue to use radio to educate, for example in Afghanistan, where we work with local stations to broadcast content relating to health and security to millions of young Afghans,” she said.
Radio also carries a message of freedom because it is a window to the world, she added.
“The prime minister’s Mann Ki Baat programme is certainly one of the most celebrated, with its hundreds of millions of listeners in more than 50 languages and dialects,” Azoulay said.
However, this book is not just about this extraordinary broadcast – it is also a testament to the tremendous power of radio to bring people together, she added.