At 8p.m. (Indian Standard Time) on Jan. 27, an episode of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monthly radio show "Mann Ki Baat" aired around India, featuring United States President Barack Obama. The historic conversation between the world leaders was recorded jointly the previous day.
Over the half-hour airtime, Modi and Obama took turns answering questions they had received from around India. Below are some of their most powerful responses.
Note: Modi's remarks have been translated from Hindi.
1. President Obama began his introductory remarks with "Namaste" and went on to discuss India's and the U.S.'s natural compatibility:
2. Narendra Modi was asked what aspects of his trip to the United States were most memorable:
"When I went to America for the first time I couldn't actually get into the White House, of course. There was a big iron fence outside the White House... At that time, of course, I never thought that I would have the opportunity of actually going into the White House.
One thing really did touch my heart and I can never forget it. Barack gifted me a book, and I think he took a lot of trouble to actually find that book. In 1894, that book became famous. It had to do with Swami Vivekananda who is one of the people I really deeply regard. There was a world religion conference in Chicago in 1894, and this was a compilation of the proceedings of that conference.
And his gifting me that book was something that really deeply touched me. And it wasn't just that. He had actually opened that book, read through that book, and actually put notes on the pages for me. And very proudly, he said that, I am from Chicago, and that is a city to which Swami Vivekananda had gone. And as I said, that deeply touched me, and I do consider that is something that is my heritage. I never did think that standing in front of the White House, having a photograph taken, and actually going into the White House and being gifted a book of somebody I deeply respect – I mean, you can imagine how deeply that must have touched me."
3. Barack Obama was asked whether he ever imagined he would become president of the United States:
4. President Obama spoke on how his own humble beginnings made him passionate about providing equality in education:
5. Obama was asked how leadership and governance should adapt for the information age:
6. Both leaders were asked what inspires them and makes them smile after a bad day at work. President Obama answered:
"I say sometimes that the only problems that come to my desk are the ones that nobody else solves. If they were easy questions, then somebody else would have solved them before they reached me. So there are days when it's tough and frustrating. And that's true in foreign affairs, that's true in domestic affairs.
But I tell you what inspires me – and I don't know, Mr. Prime Minister, if you share this view. Almost every day I meet somebody who tells me, you made a difference in my life."
7. In continuation, Prime Minister Modi told this story from his youth:
"For many years, I was working, I was single, and I was occupied with my work. And a lot of people at that time used to give me food to eat. And there was one family that used to invite me very often, but I never went to their house because I felt they were very poor, and I thought if I go to their house and have dinner, then it will be a burden on them. But one day, because they were so affectionate and kept inviting me, I did bow to their wishes and visited them.
They had a very small hut. There was a very small place to sit there. They gave me something to eat, which was a piece of bread and some milk. And they had a small child who was looking at that milk, was just staring at it. And it looked as if the child had never even seen milk. So I quickly gave that glass of milk to the child, and immediately, within seconds, he just drank up that milk. His own parents were quite angry with him because he had had my milk, but I experienced at that point that perhaps that child had never had any milk besides his mother's milk. And they had wanted to feed me well, and that's why they had gone and got milk.
And it really touched me that somebody living in a poor hut, a poor family would go through that kind of trouble to feed me. And you need to actually dedicate your life to serving these people, and that is something that inspires me."