Who will be Ningthou? Exploring leaders, gender equality, bias and harmony

Today’s #ThougtfulThursday showcases a lovely picture book and just how far and wide you can go with it while making connections, which to me is the strength of a book discussion.

The book is called “Who Will Be Ningthou? ” by Indira Mukherjee, illustrated by A V Ilango, published by Tulika Publishers

A simple and stunning #picturebook that I have read aloud to numerous classes and children that highlights two burning issues for today #genderequality and #harmony with nature
An old folktale set in Manipur , The Ningthous and Leima, king and queen of Manipur, rule well over their meeyam, their people. They have three sons and a daughter (much younger than the rest)— Sanajaoba, Sanayaima, Sanatomba and Sanatombi. They want the wisest, most able son to rule and so they hold a competition. One son jumps over the tree, one son pierces and goes through the tree and the third uproots the tree. Who should be the King now?


Spoiler Alert Don’t read ahead if you want to read the picture book first . Also here is where I stop and ask the kids as well.
In the story , while the strength on display gets lauded, the little princess cries over the birds whose nests have been shattered . The King appoints her the next Ningthou as the meeyam is not just the people but the birds and animals and trees as well and one who feels their pain is alone fit to be ruler.

GreymattersQ on #Gender

…Why was the girl not asked to participate in the race? Think of instances where #genderequality is not even considered.

…Is it a fair competition if all who are eligible are not even invited to participate?

… Is data valid if the sample set is not accurately represented (Recommended Read -Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez )

…Consider how women leaders in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand are managing the Covid crisis better than their male counterparts
-Are resilience, kindness, collaborative support and humility the qualities responsible for the success of these women leaders? Are these qualities to be attributed to a gender ?

-Or is it because the election of women is a reflection of societies where there is a greater presence of women in many positions of power, in all sectors?

GreymatterQ on choosing a ruler relating it to #Mahabharata and #Epics

…Did you know when the great King Bharata was looking for handing over his kingdom, inspite of having many sons, Bharata deviated from the norm and crowned Bhumanyu, who was not the lineal descendant, as the next emperor breaking the dynastic patterns and setting up #meritocracy.
…But in the same dynasty, years later, when both Pandu and Dhristratshta were unfit for ruling, why was Vidur who was the wisest never even considered?

GreymattersQ on #Harmony with Nature

…In Covid times, we have been seeing enough evidence of Nature rejuvenating and thriving without our interference. How do you think we should live in harmony in future?

GreyMattersQ on #Manipur and Awareness Explorations (teens and adults)

…Explore the Malom massacre which prompted Irom Sharmila to begin a hunger strike against the atrocities in Malom, in police custody for 16 years.
…On 15th July 2004, twelve mothers flung their clothes off outside the Kangla fort to protest the rape and murder of Manorama. Did you know about it?

GreymatterQ for #bias

This picture book has a different appeal compared to most other picture books for kids that are brightly and endearingly illustrated. Are we aware of our #biases and #stereotyping in even these subtle ways?

…The film #Axone by Nicholas Kharkongor, which released on #Netflix recently revolves around two flatmates from Manipur and Nepal, living in Delhi, who wish to surprise their third flatmate, by making Axone, a traditional dish for a celebration. They scurry around to ensure its pungent aroma doesn’t provoke the wrath of the neightbours. Silently in this rush, the film reveals our prejudices and attitudes from the well meany and ill informed “Hindi -cheeni bhai bhai” to the way we treat tenants to “food smells” to the recent migrant issues, to the bottom line each time #inclusion and #empathy

booktalk #picturebooks #genderequality #genderbias #nepotism #stereotyping #manipur #teachingwithbooks #connectingthedots #metacognition Tulika Publishers

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