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Waste-battling 'Mottainai Grandma' book gets Hindi, English launch in India

The cover of the English and Hindi translation of "Mottainai Grandma" by Mariko Shinju. (Mainichi)
Author Mariko Shinju signs a copy of the English and Hindi translation of "Mottainai Grandma" in New Delhi, on Jan. 13, 2018. (Mainichi)

NEW DELHI -- A "Mottainai Grandma" picture book by Mariko Shinju, who pens the regular illustrated column "Mottainai baa-san nikki" (Mottainai Grandma diary) in the Mainichi Shimbun about an elderly lady who spots wasteful behavior, has been translated and published in India.

    The picture book is in Hindi and English, India's two official national languages, and two more volumes in the series are set to be published this year.

    "Mottainai" can roughly be translated as "wasteful," and is often used as an expression of dismay at wasteful actions. Shinju says the word "has a deep meaning, encompassing thoughtfulness and respect, among other aspects. I'll be very glad if (the book) helps change people's thinking in India."

    In the book, Mottainai Grandma appears and says "Mottainai!" when one of the other characters does something wasteful, like throw away short pencils or leave food uneaten.

    The picture book is being published as part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)'s efforts in India. Littering has become a serious problem in the country, and the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched an environmental beautification campaign. It is hoped that Shinju's book will broaden awareness of wastefulness and help improve the environment.

    At a Jan. 13 launch event in New Delhi, Shinju and the book's translator held readings and performed a "picture drawing" song. One 11-year-old at the event said it was very interesting, and that they had learned it was wrong to throw things away thoughtlessly.

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