Monday December 10, 2018

On his trail to preserve a long lost treasure trove: storytelling

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By Bhavana Akella

Scrolling through the anals of past, one might have run into the era of story tellers. However, with the advent of technology and the kindle era beleguring the long lost tradition of storytelling, we in this century has almost been bereved of those snippets wherein a bunch of garrulous children were found stupified at the gimmicks of a story teller reciting a story.

Picture credit: artinaction.org.uk
Picture credit: artinaction.org.uk

In a bid to bring back the art of storytelling, renowned theatre artist Kamal Pruthi unravels his attempt at reving the art. “A storytelling movement (of the kind he has started) was necessary to fight the advent of technology, which has been dumbing the children down,” says the pagdi clad theatre artist.

Leaving the world of IT, Pruthi has devoted his life to the art of storytelling.He is also arguably one of the few storytellers who perform in German, Hindi and Urdu and has been bringing back the culture of storytelling in many households and schools across the country.

Donning green kurta-pajama with a pagdi (turban), this 33-year old ‘Kabuliwala’ is a favourite amongst children across the country every time they see him with his vibrant jhola (cloth bag), which they know is full of stories.

“With mobile phones and other devices taking over, dadajis and nanajis (grandparents) don’t get to tell stories to their grandchildren anymore. A family getting together over stories seems like in a long-gone era,” Pruthi told IANS.

The monkey shows and the acrobats who performed while telling their tales were experiential mediums that have almost become redundant now, he said, adding that children of the present generation have not heard as many stories as their parents would have. The hunger for knowledge can only be satiated through stories, he reiterated.

“I’m a modern day madaari (conjurer). My job is to intellectually entertain the humble souls of kids – many of whom have never heard stories before,” Pruthi said.

“Kids of this generation are energetic and need something to keep them engaged. The 90-year-old Santa Claus who entertains them comes only once a year, but kids know Kabuliwala is always there,” he added.

Being a professional theatre artist for over a decade now, he believes the medium is not experiential enough for the audience, and thus he had to take a step ahead through his storytelling.

There have been some challenges, though.

Retelling the story of Sadat Hasan Manto’s “Toba Tek Singh”, in which after partition in 1947, a man has to decide whether India or Pakistan is his home, Pruthi recalled the challenge he had faced while representing 18 characters in the story.

“The real challenge is when a storyteller has to perform so many characters and tell their stories,” he said.

“A story can be called a strong one only when it can travel,” Pruthi explained, adding: “Not all actors can be storytellers, and also not all storytellers can be good actors. Unlike a theatre show which requires investment, storytelling can be quite economical and can be done on a terrace, a garden, or even below the staircase.”

(IANS)

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

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Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)