ITOCHU Announces Project Making Use of Popular Japanese Picture Book “Mottainai Grandma” in India; Aims to Change Indian Children’s Awareness of Environmental Issues

August 1, 2018

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Yoshihisa Suzuki, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it will be deploying a story-telling caravan, in association with Kodansha Ltd. (and other partners), to read the popular Japanese picture book “Mottainai Grandma” by Mariko Shinju at elementary schools in the Indian capital of Delhi, as part of its initiatives to contribute to the “environmental conservation” and “growth of next generations” aspects of its Basic Activity Guidelines on Social Contribution Activities, and to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).By promoting and popularizing this educational Japanese picture book, which does not exist in India, ITOCHU will aim to achieve sustainable solutions to India’s serious environmental problems.

As economic growth continues in India, illegal dumping of waste and open defecation are commonplace. In October 2014, the Indian Government launched the Clean India campaign (referred to as “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” (SBA) in Hindi), and is working to develop infrastructure, but its activities to raise awareness and enlightenment of people are falling behind schedule. Amidst these conditions, ITOCHU’s initiative aims to contribute to improving India’s escalating environmental and sanitary problems by reforming the awareness of Indian children.

In 2016, the project was selected by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in its Cooperative Preparation Survey (BOP Business Partnership Promotion), now the Businesses (SDGs Businesses) Survey that Solve Issues in Developing Countries. An impact evaluation survey will also be conducted simultaneously to validate the development benefits of the project, with the cooperation of JICA’s Evaluation Department.

ITOCHU has engaged in social contribution activities for over 40 years, since the establishment of the ITOCHU Foundation in 1974, with the objective of encouraging the sound and healthy development of young people. The company hopes that this initiative will enlighten children in environments without sufficient access to picture books about the joys of reading.

Outline of the story-telling caravan

Organizer Kodansha Ltd.
Project implementing organizations Govindalaya, IJK (IJ Kakehashi Services)
Sponsored by ITOCHU Corporation, ITOCHU India Pvt. Ltd., Maruti Suzuki India Limited
Cooperation by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agen cy), NBT (National Book Trust, India)
Project period July 23 – October 31, 2018 (planned)
Objectives 1) The aim of the project is to contribute to the promotion of the Indian Government’s Clean India Mission through activities to promote awareness and enlighten Indian children (aged 9 to 12) with regard to environmental and sanitary issues, by reading them a picture book "Mottainai Grandma”. The project’s caravan vehicle contains approximately 300 picture books, and is also equipped with mobile library functionality.

2) The impact survey will draw comparisons between 30 project target schools and 30 non-target schools in order to validate the project’s development benefits.

*A baseline survey will be conducted at the 60 schools (as mentioned above) in order to ascertain the children’s current situation. After the completion of the project, changes in the children’s knowledge, awareness, attitudes and behavior, etc., will be measured by means of a questionnaire-based survey.
Target regions and schools State schools in Delhi and the surrounding Haryana State area (the caravan will visit the 30 schools, with approximately 40 students for each school, three times each, for a total of 3,600 students reached by the project)

The caravan vehicle displaying the various partners’ logos

About a picture book “Mottainai Grandma”

“Mottainai Grandma” was written by the Japanese picture book author Mariko Shinju. The book was first published in Japan in 2004, and has subsequently been published in other countries including France, China, Korea and Thailand. A total of 14 books in “Mottainai Grandma” series have been released so far, with a cumulative total in excess of 1 million copies issued so far. In January 2018, Indian Government-affiliated publisher NBT (National Book Trust, India) published a bilingual Hindi and English language edition of ”Mottainai Grandma”, with two more books in the series (Mottainai Grandma Maho no Kuni he (Visits the Magic Kingdom) and Mottainai Grandma Itadaki masu (Says Grace)) planned to be released during 2018.

About the ITOCHU Foundation

The ITOCHU Foundation was established in 1974, and has continued to engage in social contribution activities for over 40 years since, with the objective of encouraging the sound and healthy development of young people. Subsidizing the development of children’s literature collections and promoting the development of e-book libraries are key pillars of the Foundation’s activities both in Japan and overseas, with the aims of enriching children’s minds through the use of picture books, and nurturing their ability to work towards a bright future and hold on to their hopes and dreams under any circumstances. In recent years, the Foundation is also investing its energies into enlightening children in environments without sufficient access to picture books—such as those in hospitals and disaster-stricken areas—about the joys of reading. The Foundation also provides support through the use of picture books abroad, based on the sentiment of wishing to deliver this kind of support to children overseas.

About ITOCHU activities in India

ITOCHU opened a branch office at Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1918, and opened branches in Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai after the war. In 2006, ITOCHU launched its Indian subsidiary ITOCHU India Pvt. Ltd., in recognition of India’s status as a rapidly advancing central economic entity amongst the BRICs which could no longer be disregarded in terms of business value. Originally starting its trading with raw cotton and cotton yarn, ITOCHU India now not only deals with textile materials, but is expanding its business operations in all directions to encompass areas such as machinery, chemicals, metals, energy, food products, general merchandise, and logistics services.