Indian children draw comic strips to depict corruption

Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:28am EDT
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By Atish Patel

NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - In a classroom tucked away amidst the hustle and bustle of a village in New Delhi, Asif Hussain raises his right arm with a blunt pencil clutched in his hand to ask a question before getting back to completing his comic strip.

Instructed to tell a visual story based on personal experiences, about 30 children are depicting issues like corruption, crime and poor sanitation at a comics workshop in the village of Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin.

"We tell them that they have to focus on an issue directly connected with them and not from a textbook," Sharad Sharma, the man behind the workshop, told Reuters.

"The idea is to document their own lives. As a result, the stories are not fairy tales or superhero stories, but real life stories."

The story-telling is simple with no color used and only four panels making up the entire comic strip, helping to strengthen the message being portrayed.

One by 11-year-old Salman illustrates corruption in the police force. A community member reports a hit-and-run accident to the local police. The culprit, sporting dark clothes and snazzy shades, is found and arrested. However, he is told he can avoid a prison term by offering a kickback.

Through his World Comics India organization, Sharma has set up workshops across India and South Asia working mainly with disenfranchised communities to get them to use comics as a communication tool.

He has conducted sessions in villages with high rates of farmer suicides and with people living in remote tribal regions of India's Maoist heartland.   Continued...