Despite the myth, ‘mitron’ is not Modi’s favourite word An analysis of PM’s speeches

Despite the myth, ‘mitron’ is not Modi’s favourite word An analysis of PM’s speeches

On New Year’s eve, thousands of people waited at Social, a chain of bars in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, to hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on the first 50 days of demonetisation. But rather than the details of Modi's new policy they were probably more interested in the bar’s unusual offer: a pint of beer for just Rs 31 each time Modi uttered the word ‘mitron’ — ‘friends’ in Hindi.

The crowd was left disappointed. Modi did not utter the ‘M-word’ even once.

Addressing the audience as ‘mitron’ is quintessentially Modi: critics use the word to mock him; opposition parties employ it as a sardonic reference to the prime minister.

But the word might be in decline, an HT analysis of the language used by Modi in his speeches reveals. The PMO website provides the transcripts of every speech made by Modi in his official capacity as prime minister. A word count of commonly used salutations in his speeches tells the story.

‘Mitron’ Myth

Modi has delivered 440 speeches over his two-and-half year as PM — more than half were in Hindi. This doesn’t include his campaign addresses and unofficial speeches, where the trend might be different.

‘Mitron’, the word people associate with Modi the most, was mentioned 61 times in 40 speeches. Compare that with ‘bhaiyon-behenon’ (brother and sisters), which were uttered about 750 times in these speeches.

Other commonly used salutations were ‘deshwasiyon’, ‘saathiyon’ and ‘mahanubhav’ — all used more frequently than ‘mitron’.

The decline of ‘mitron’

Fans of the word will be disheartened to know that it is slowly disappearing from the prime minister’s speech vocabulary. Look at the chart below, which plots all mentions of the word by him.

Clearly, this trademark word is on the retreat. In 2015, it was uttered in 26 speeches. In 2016, just seven.

Will ‘doston’ take over?

Overall, ‘doston’, which means friends in Hindi, was mentioned in 21 speeches. In 2016, the word was mentioned in eight speeches, one more than ‘mitron’. Will ‘doston’ trump ‘mitron’ over the next two and half years? Only time can tell.

Explore the trend for some of Modi’s favourite words

Usage of over time

If the folks at Social had looked at these trends, they could have made other plans.