January 22, 2015 / 7:25 AM / 5 years ago

Good morning India! Obama, Modi plan radio show to reach out to masses

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the end of their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The leaders of the world’s largest democracies will next week take to India’s radio airwaves, the main source of news and information for many in the country, to get their message out.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who will be the chief guest at New Delhi’s showpiece Republic Day military parade on Jan. 26, will join Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a special edition of the latter’s radio program next Tuesday.

Listeners have been asked to pre-submit questions by Sunday to the leaders on the program “Mann Ki Baat,” or “Talking from the Heart”.

“This month’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ episode will be a special one, where our Republic Day guest @BarackObama & I will share our thoughts together,” Modi tweeted on Thursday.

Modi makes radio speeches at least every month to communicate with two-thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people who regularly listen to the radio. He had talked about a cleanliness drive, tax evasion, and drug abuse among others on his show.

Obama’s decision to appear on the show during his visit is a sign of the bond the two leaders share.

In a unique departure from protocol, Obama accompanied Modi on a motorcade drive from the White House to the memorial honoring slain U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. during the leader’s visit to Washington last year.

Modi and Obama also issued a joint editorial before that trip, a first for an Indian leader, according to the Indian media.

It is not clear whether Modi will speak in English or in Hindi, as he usually does during his broadcast. Modi’s radio show is recorded at Race Course Road, the official residence of the Indian prime minister.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Malini Menon

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