“JICA has launched a campaign of Achhi Aadat (Good habit) with support of the Japanese companies, including LIXIL, Kai India and Unicharm, who have joined hands with the campaign as sponsors. They have a strong will to contribute to the people of India where the business has been developed. Many more Japanese companies are echoing the Campaign and joining the circle and promoting the concept to their staff and clients”, confirmed Dr. Katsuo Matsumoto, Chief Representative, JICA India in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld. Excerpts below:
What are the key observations that you have regarding India’s urban governance and Smart Cities Mission during the past year? How is it progressing in a nutshell?
Since the emergence of this virus, the governments have been working overtime to provide necessary guidance through various channels to the public. In general, people have come to understand what they should do including hygiene practices. We recognize that some basic general measures are very helpful in preventing respiratory illness, such as washing hands, cutting nails, wearing masks, avoiding close contact with anyone who shows symptoms of illness, and maintaining good hygiene.
Under the current situation, however, the challenge may be how accurately people can act or/and behave, and whether the vulnerable categories, such as children, aged generation, illiteracy, people with disabilities, and so on, can reach exact information. In this regard, we believe that it is important to indicate the right, simple, and easy to understand the way to determine what actions to take and how to do appropriately.
How have been the past one year of business operation in India? Has the pandemic affected JICA’s operation in India?
We have the utmost respect for medical frontline health workers who have continued to be at the center of the global response to COVID-19. They have been taking on considerable personal risk in clinics, hospitals, and homes in order to aid the situation at the best while working round the clock under stressful conditions. The crisis emphasizes how important and undervalued health workers are in sustaining the country's resilient health systems.
JICA, off late, has been campaigning thoroughly of Achhi Aadat (Good Habit). Would you elaborate to us on how it promotes the importance of hygiene practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases?
In an attempt to raise awareness about Covid-19 in India, JICA has launched a campaign of Achhi Aadat (Good habit) with the support of Japanese companies, including LIXIL, Kai India, and Unicharm, who have joined hands with the campaign as sponsors. They have a strong will to contribute to the people of India where the business has been developed. Many more Japanese companies are echoing the Campaign and joining the circle and promoting the concept to their staff and clients. We believe that there are good tools and ways including visual materials to use Japanese technology and knowledge to make the campaign more effective. Achhi Aadat campaign is aimed to raise awareness among 10 crore people about the importance of hygiene practices for preventing the spread of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.
What is the message behind Manga Comic's "Cells at Work" episodes related to Coronavirus? Can you highlight more details on the Achhi Aadat Campaign?
JICA and Kodansha (Kodansha Ltd.), a Japanese publisher, jointly implement the project for promoting the proper understanding of COVID-19 and its prevention, by disclosing episodes of the global-hit manga (comic) “Cells at Work” in English and Hindi. Amid the global pandemic, Kodansha has produced two new episodes of the famous anthropomorphic manga Cells at Work, titled "Novel Coronavirus" and "Preventing Novel Coronavirus Infection," in collaboration with Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. These two episodes were produced to express support for the front-line medical personnel fighting the virus, to raise awareness about the novel coronavirus, and to show gratitude for the front-line medical personnel fighting the virus. We believe that this approach has been very effective.
The project and translation of these two episodes into English and Hindi were co-sponsored by JICA (Hindi version will be launched in June 2021). The Achhi Aadat Campaign, which is being introduced in collaboration with Japanese companies and local non-profit organizations, will promote Cells at Work episodes in schools and neighborhoods. Since the campaign began in January, JICA has conducted Achhi Aadat sessions in several schools across the country, including in Delhi NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Gujarat, with the help of implementation partner IJ Kakehashi Services.
What prominent efforts and measures are taken up by JICA in raising awareness about the novel coronavirus?
It is vital to boost various category of people like youth and children to change their behavior through visual materials, and “Cells at Work” is a well-known manga that has been released in 16 countries and it animation version broadcasted in 130 countries, including India. Achhi Aadat Campaign will use these manga episodes as part of an educational tool and promote the understanding of Novel coronavirus and correct methods of prevention in India. The target group is not only limited to children but is relevant to all generations. In the case of “Cells at Work”, many Japanese schools have recognized its educational value, and students learn biology topics when reading/watching episodes. People can learn how the virus is attacking our body, immunity system while enjoying the contents of manga as the anthropomorphic cells can help the understanding of people how they fight and defeat the viruses. Whole drama of cells and viruses is happening inside our body.
English version has been launched on the website (https://kodansha.us/volume/cells-at-work-1) of Kodansha and will be distributed at free of charge as a motion comic with voice and sound. Especially for India, Hindi version is under creation and expected to be launched in late June and distributed through communication channels and campaign programs.