In a unique initiative, a Delhi-based NGO is enlisting help of IAS and IPS officials, vice-chancellors, professors, teachers and other influential people to join its effort in reviving the tradition of narrating stories to children.
The NGO believes that top officials holding story-telling sessions for children have a more profound impact on them.
"Children feel proud listening to a story from senior government officials like a collector or superintendent of police (SP). This also serves as a motivation for parents who for several reasons have stopped narrating stories to children at bedtime," said Bhoosan Bhatt, the brain behind the concept of Katha Chaupal (title of the programme).
So far, several top district officials have held storytelling sessions for children in Dhar, Jhabua and Ujjain including collector Jhabua Jaishree Kivayat, sub-divisional police officer (SDOP) Jhabua Rachna Bhadauria, CEO Jhabua Govind Raju, collector Dhar CB Singh, SP Dhar Bhagwant Singh Chouhan, deputy commissioner Ujjain Prateek Sonwalkar and former vicechancellor of Vikram University and Rani Durgawati University Ram Rajesh Mishra.
Khuman Singh (12), from Jhabua, who was part of the audience during one such session, was more than happy for two reasons.Firstly, he felt proud that none-other-than the 'collector madam' told him a story and secondly he got a chance to give the collector a certificate- a gesture of thanks.
There are about 200 children like Khuman Singh from Jhabua, Dhar and Ujjain, who have participated in the story-telling sessions organised by Parilekh Education and Social Welfare Foundation, so far.
Government officials and prominent citizens participated in Katha Chaupal and shared interesting stories about the animal kingdom, angels, ghosts and God with the children.From Lions, elephants and rabbits to fairies all figured in the stories- which all had an underlying moral lesson.
“Most of the children are becoming couch potatoes watching TV most of the time and the tradition of story-telling has almost become extinct,” said CB Singh, collector Dhar.He said story-telling at home helps building emotional bonds between elders and children.
Bhagwat Singh Chouhan, superintendent of police (SP), Dhar, enjoyed narrating the story of a notorious bandit who impersonated a sage and was one day killed by the police in an encounter.“Every story comes with a moral. Response from children was overwhelming; I enjoyed the children’s reactions while narrating the story,” said Chouhan.
While collector of Jhabua Jaishri Kiyawat shared with children three versions of the traditional story of tortoise and rabbit, deputy commissioner of Ujjain, Prateek Sonwalkar entertained children with a story of two friends- with an underlying message of honesty.
Former vice-chancellor of Vikram University, Ujjain and Rani Durga University, Jabalpur, Ram Rajesh Mishra sought to communicate true meaning of freedom and democracy through two stories.
More than three dozen hearing and speech impaired children were part of the crowd that came for the session in Jhabua. “We called two interpreters for the children, who used sign language and translated all the stories while the session was in process,” said Bhoosan Bhatt.