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Debasish Chakrabarty

By Manjula Padmanabhan
Hachette, India, 2015, pp. 69, Rs. 250.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 11 November 2015

The world, as we see every day, is getting increasingly complex. In addition to the decades long concerns over armament race, climate change and diplomatic mistrust, reign of anarchy in the name of religion in certain parts of the globe has marked the recent period. Indeed deepened cooperation among nations is the need of the hour to solve the problems that are looming large at the global scale. However, brotherly love among the earthlings, even in such times of turmoil, is not always easily forthcoming. Suspicions and resentments rather than empathy and support often prevail. The frequently observed lack of cooperation among the peoples from different nations and diverse cultures can often be explained by their deep-rooted perceptions about others, often guided by the views of their ancestors, which has never been rectified. Furthermore, people are often unknowingly motivated in their thought process by ethnocentrism, belief that one’s own culture is superior as compared to others. While it may take long for grown-ups to amend their perspective, the best bet for the world is to sensitize the young populace, the future citizens, and enable them to think rationally, rather than being guided by the baggage of archaic perceptions. In Astro-Nuts, a drama designed for school kids, Manjula Padmanabhan attempts to do just the same through a comic set-up in near future. The storyline introduces eleven human (from various parts of the globe) and six non-human representatives from the earth who have travelled to attend the General Assembly of the Galactic Union. The human representatives hail from various parts of the globe and carry their cultural imperfections with utmost perfection—be it Mr. Vijay from United Asia, Ms. Astrid from United Europe, Mr. Mustafa from All Africa, Mr. Nanook from United Poles and others. The members of the delegation fight with each other for prominence, petty issues such as procedures, and in the backdrop we come to know about several issues threatening the planet, in particular the climate change related concerns, toxic wastes, nuclear holocaust, etc. Leading members of the delegation often conceal facts from each other with selfish interests, reminding one of the undercurrents of Machiavellian diplomacy. The characters routinely insult each other, guided by their out-of-date thought process, the comical tone of which only drives home the point too sharply. With time, it is learnt that only one among the delegates will be able to represent earth, leading ...

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