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Indian storytelling: A soft power with a mission

Indian storytelling: A soft power with a mission
Indian storytelling: A soft power with a mission
From scholars to merchants, stories were a means to attract outsiders to come experience the riches of India.


When prime minister Narendra Modi unexpectedly extolled the world of Indian storytelling in his recent Mann Ki Baat, he mentioned south Indian traditions, like Villu Pattu. And he urged storytellers to tell inspirational tales, to fit the impending 75th anniversary of Independence.

Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities consists of descriptions of imaginary cities – or imagined aspects of cities – told by a fictional Marco Polo. One such city is Euphemia where merchants gather to trade goods but, also stories: “at night, by the fires all around the market, seated on sacks or barrels, or stretched out on piles of carpets, at each word that one man says… the others tell, each one his tale…” When they leave they carry with
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