Have you heard about multilateralism?

During the recently held Group of Twenty (G20) Foreign Minister’s meeting. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said multilateralism is in crisis today as global governance has failed in preventing wars and upholding international cooperation. Let us learn more about multilateralism.

What is multilateralism?

 Multilateralism is the process of organising relations between groups of several states. It is usually associated with the period after the Second World War as numerous multilateral agreements were signed, though led primarily by the U.S. Indivisibility is the core principle of multilateralism. For instance, if a war is declared against a state, then all the states in a multilateral set up are considered to be at war against the opponent.

Multilateralism helps in developing a bond among nations, discourages unilateralism, enables small powers to voice their opinions, and empowers them to exercise their rights.

Organisations embodying the principle of multilateralism include World Health Organisation (WHO), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). They provide the global framework for peace and stability.

Multilateralism vs. unilateralism vs. bilateralism

The basic difference between unilateralism, bilateralism, and multilateralism is that unilateralism supports one-sided action.

Bilateralism means coordination between two countries, and multilateralism is coordination among more than three countries.

Multilateralism requires states to follow international norms in contrast to unilateralism, where a single state can influence how international relations can be conducted.

Multilateralism vs. multipolarity

Multilateralism is an institutional form that coordinates relations among three or more states on the basis of generalised principles of conduct.

Multipolarity is the system where more than two competing nations have almost equal power and influence on the global economy, society, culture, and military. The concept came about after the Second World War as it became clear that the U.S. would no longer be the single great power globally (during the Cold War it was a bipolar world led by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R).

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Biblioburro: A four-legged library

In La Gloria, Colombia many rural communities lack access to books, limiting educational opportunities for children. Luis Soriano's Biblioburro aims to bring books directly to these communities, bridging the gap and giving children the chance to experience the magic of reading and learning.

In the heart of rural Colomina, where the rugged terrain meets the vast blue sky, a man and hus bvo faithful donkeys carry a precious cargo of knowledge and imagination. The man is Luis Soriano, a teacher with a passion for books, and the donkeys are Alfa and Beto (alfabeto Spanish for alphabet), his trusty companions in his bring the world of literature to the quest to bring the world remote villages of his homeland.

Together, they form the Biblioburro (the donkey library), a mobile library of around 120 books that roams the countryside, spreading the joy of reading and learning to children who would otherwise have no access to books. As they journey across mountains and valleys, Soriano and his companions are greeted with excitement and wonder by the young readers who eagerly gather around them.

A beacon of hope

 After finishing high school in La Gloria, Columbia, Soriano knew he wanted to become a teacher, so he got a job at a small rural school, while completing a degree remotely from the Universidad del Magdalena. However, he found that his students were not progressing and did not do their homework, which he attributed to their lack of access to books at home.

Despite his limited access to resources, he resolved to bring knowledge to his pupils by bringing books to them. One day in the year 1997, with the help of one of his donkeys and a stack of books, he set off before dawn and embarked on a challenging journey across the countryside He travelled several miles stopping at the homes of each of his students and reading with them. Afterwards, he lent them the books and promised to come back to collect them the next day. Day after day, he repeated this process, arriving in the early hours of the morning, long before school started. Soriano's Biblioburro soon became more than just a mobile library: it became a beacon of hope a symbol of possibility and a gateway to a brighter future.

More than two decades later, Luis Soriano has not stopped, Despite being robbed a couple of times, facing violent threats and enduring many injuries during his travels, Soriano continues to promote literacy because he believes it is crucial for ending violence and bringing peace to his Country. His library which started off with only 70 books, today, boasts a collection of more than 7.000 titles, most of which were donated after his inspirational story was made known to the public via different media. His admirable work has also inspired two recent children's books. ‘Waiting for the Biblioburro and Biblioburo: A True Story from Colombia’

Through his simple yet effective idea, Soriano continues to inspire others around the world to take action and make a difference in their own communities.

Picture Credit : Googe 

India’s first graphic novel is back in print!

Between 1991 and 1994, Indian graphic artist Orijit Sen drew inspiration from influential works like Art Spiegelman's ‘Maus’ and Keiji Nakazawa's ‘Barefoot Gen’ to create India's groundbreaking first graphic novel, River of Stories. This timeless work serves as a poignant critique of India's idea of development and political practices. It revolves around the fictional Rewa Andolan, closely mirroring the real-life Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), a people's movement fighting against the displacement caused by the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Illustrated entirely by hand, the graphic novel delves into a decades-long struggle raising pertinent questions about the notion of development. Though the dam was eventually built, the movement's core concerns, such as "development for, whom?" remain deeply relevant today.

 Originally published in 1994 and later going out of print, a new edition of this powerful work was released by Blaft Publications in 2022, featuring a foreword by Indian author Arundhati Roy.

River of Stories

This hand-illustrated novel span 62 pages and intricately weaves together two distinct narratives. One revolves around Vishnu, a spirited journalist from Delhi, who embarks on a journey to the valley, documenting the protests of the Rewa Andolan. The other narrative draws upon the rich mythologies of the Adivasis, painting the enchanting tale of Malgu Gayan, a singer whose melodic tunes bring to life the ancient origins of the river.

The new edition

In this new edition, Orijit Sen acknowledges the significant changes that have occurred since he originally penned the graphic novel. The Narmada Bachao Andolan has progressed, and the landscape has evolved. Sen had contemplated creating an illustrated preface. The purpose was to contextualise the scenario of the early '90s and highlight the changes that have occurred in the Narmada Valley since then.

Additionally, he wanted to shed light on the broader situation of Adivasi and indigenous communities in the present time. However, despite having this idea, Sen had never acted upon it. It was Sen's daughter who ultimately convinced him to reprint the book. "She reminded me to see it for what it is: River of Stories might be the first Indian graphic novel, but more importantly, it is almost a historical document that represents a crucial moment in time in the Narmada Andolan," he says.

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What is Katherine Rundell famous for?

Step into the magical world of childhood with acclaimed English author Katherine Rundell, whose adventurous stories have captured the hearts of many young readers in recent years. Read on to discover more about this talented author and her enchanting tales.

Katherine Rundell is a celebrated multiple-award-winning English author whose poetic verse makes words dance on the page like sunlight on a rippling stream. With a heart full of adventure and a mind brimming with creativity, she crafts stories that ignite the imagination of young readers and transport them to magical worlds.

Born in 1987 in Kent, England, Rundell spent her formative years in Zimbabwe and Brussels. Following her undergraduate studies at Oxford, she was chosen as a Fellow of All Souls College, where she completed her doctoral thesis on the renowned metaphysical English poet John Donne. Last September she published the book ‘Super infinite The Transformations of John Donne’, in honour of the 450th anniversary of the poet's birth. This critically acclaimed work won her 2022's Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. Rundell who is in her mid-thirties now, started working on her debut novel ‘The Girl Savage’ the day after she turned 21. Drawing on her carefree childhood in Zimbabwe, and the devastation of her family relocating to Belgium when she was 14, her debut novel narrated the story of a free-spirited girl called Wilhelmina Silver who has spent most of her childhood on an African farm and is sent to a boarding school in England following the death of her father.

As an imaginative and adventurous storyteller, Rundell intricately weaves her intriguing and quirky personal interests into her characters, whether it is her love for tightrope walking or roof walking or her fascination with the Amazon. Her characters act as an extension of her inner child and her stories (that are generally aimed at middle-grade readers) combine elements of action, adventure, and magical realism. Her tales take the readers on a journey to faraway lands, where they can explore the mysteries of the world and discover beauty in its hidden corners. Some of her most well-known works include ‘The Rooftoppers’ which won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize in 2014, and ‘The Explorer’, which was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award in 2017.

Choosing children's literature

When Katherine Rundell first began writing children's books, it was not because she saw it as her ultimate destination. Rather, she viewed it as a stepping stone, a path to follow in the footsteps of her literary idol Jane Austen. Rundell was acutely aware that her authorship was not at the level she aspired to, and so she turned to the world of children's fiction as a training ground. But as she has grown and developed as an author, she has come to realise that the genre is so much more than a mere proving ground. To suggest that children's literature is simply a place to polish her skills before moving on to "real" writing is a notion that she now passionately rejects

Reading: A way to cope with the loss

Reading is almost exactly the same as cartwheeling: it turns the world upside down and leaves you breathless says Katherine Rundell Reading was a cherished pastime for Randell, especially because it helped her during some of the most difficult years of her life. It was a stressful time for the family, and Rundell was only nine or 10 years old when her parents were caring for a foster sister who was terminally ill. The experience of losing someone so young was deeply saddening and profoundly painful for the author. Yet, she found solace in books devouring them with an insatiable- appetite. Looking back on this time she believes that it was no accident that she writes for the age she was when she experienced such heartache. Despite the pain, Rundell drew those she loved closer and cherished the things that brought her joy, namely, the power of storytelling.

Embracing the wonder of childhood

Rundell's stories are more than just mere escapism; they are tales that inspire and challenge young readers to think deeply and feel connected to the world around them. Her books are important because they offer a glimpse into the human experience that is both universal and uniquely personal. She captures the essence of childhood wonder and joy but also the fear and uncertainty that often come with growing up. Her stories speak to the resilience and ingenuity of the human spirit and encourage readers to embrace their sense of adventure and explore the unknown.

Through her stories, Rundell shows young readers the power of creativity, resilience, and empathy, and why these qualities are essential to making the world a better place. The success of her books is a testament to the power of storytelling to inspire and transform young minds. Through her beautiful and imaginative works, she has created a legacy that will continue to inspire generations of young readers for years to come.

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