Eco-friendly mottainai lifestyle now in India

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It was Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmentalist, who passed away in 2011, who promoted the idea of “mottainai,” an expression of regret when something is used wastefully. To teach children in India the importance of reducing waste, a Japanese picture book encouraging an eco-friendly mottainai lifestyle was published in India. Its English-Hindi bilingual edition was released at the recently concluded New Delhi World Book Fair with the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The book will eventually be published in 11 other regional languages in India, the agency said. Kodansha Ltd started releasing the picture book series in 2004 and has been conducting a survey on picture books in the Indian capital since 2016 under JICA’s development aid programme. JICA said the book is in line with the Indian government’s “Clean India Mission,” initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The agency said the concept is based on the “four R’s” — reduce, reuse, recycle and respect.

“JICA would like to encourage children to share the spirit of mottainai with their families and friends,” Takayoshi Tange, senior representative of the JICA India office, said in a statement. “This will help children understand the importance of their environment and they will contribute toward building a better world.”

Mottainai Grandma will be available at major book stores across the country or online from the website of the National Book Trust, the government-run publishing house. The local publisher plans to publish two more books — “Mottainai Grandma Let’s Eat” and “Mottainai Grandma Goes to Magic Land” — this year under a license agreement with Kodansha, according to JICA.

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