Meena and Raju going to school
By Renu Ghosh
To be at the top and then remain there requires phenomenal doing. And all 12 Meena storybooks and activity-cum-coloring sheets have achieved just that. They have featured on the Macmillan India’s Bestsellers’ List in the children’s general books category for the third year in a row, with an incredible sale of over three million copies of Meena storybooks in the last 18 months alone.
The bestseller slot is a highly coveted one and it mandates that more than 50,000 copies of a particular title should sell in a calendar year, that is from January to December. A tall order by any reckoning, but Meena storybooks have got it going all right for them. After all, three years’ time is habit-forming!
Meena storybooks’ top billing is a feat orchestrated by a brilliant, strategic partnership between UNICEF and Macmillan India. Jointly strategizing and planning, UNICEF and Macmillan took truckloads of Meena storybooks to the end-users living in far-flung corners of India, and this meant transporting books also to places where roads were, conspicuous by their absence.
When this winning partnership was first initiated in the year 2002, many shrugged it off as yet another blue-sky-green-grass idea. Early days of this partnership were very challenging. UNICEF was driven by a passion to take Meena to the rural Indian children. But, who and how was one to take Meena there? Partnering with an organisation with a reach across the vast expanse of India and a commitment born out of a long tradition of high quality publishing with a cause seemed just the right thing to do, and very promising too. This is how two like-minded teams, UNICEF and Macmillan, came together, and the outcome of this favourable partnership is reflected in the unprecedented success of the Meena storybooks and their ever-increasing popularity.
And what of Meena herself? Conceived and created by UNICEF, little Meena is a bundle of fun and enthusiasm. She is an enchanting and immensely likeable animated character whose stories primarily illustrate issues relating to children, and are told in an entertaining and humorous fashion. The stories enable children to enhance their self-esteem and self-worth and familiarise themselves with life skills essential for their empowerment. The enabling relationship that Meena has with Raju is a model for improved gender relationships from an early age.
The partnership between Union and State Governments of India, UNICEF and Macmillan has thus become catalytic in making the collective dream of taking Meena to every nook, corner and cranny of the country come true. Meena promises to go an even longer way with such strategic teamwork and strong governmental support.
As Meena storybooks travel further, more and more urban and rural children will relate to Meena, and benefit from her experiences and the situations she finds herself in.