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Wingstar: The Indian superheroine fighting discrimination

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image copyrightTinkle Comics

India's much loved Tinkle comics have entertained and educated children for more than 35 years. Characters like the cowardly hunter Shikari Shambu and village simpleton Supandi are still hugely popular among Indian children and nostalgic adults. But the iconic brand has not had too many female characters. Tinkle plans to change that, reports the BBC's Vikas Pandey.

Meet Mapui Kawlim: the latest female superhero from Tinkle.

A 13-year old girl who hails from Mizoram in north-eastern India, Mapui Kawlim fights crime under the name "Wingstar" with cool gadgets given to her by her scientist father.

Apart from the fact that Wingstar is a teenage girl, what makes this superheroine more unusual is that she hails from India's north-east, a region that has often complained of racial stereotyping and discrimination by the rest of the country.

image copyrightTinkle
image captionWingStar is also a normal girl who goes to school and plays with her friends.

Tinkle Comics' editor Rajani Thindiath told the BBC that the company did not make a "deliberate" decision to base WingStar out of Mizoram. "I am aware of the discrimination, but we didn't create WingStar because of that. At Tinkle, we believe in plurality. We strive to represent the whole country and this character is an extension of that strategy," she said.

But Ms Thindiath said she would be happy if the character ends up educating children in other parts of the country about India's north-east.

image copyrightTinkle
image captionShe has a range of cool gadgets

WingStar is the third female superhero character launched by Tinkle in three years, which Ms Thindiath admits was a deliberate decision.

"The world is not made up of only one gender. All our fairytales and stories are about men rescuing women. So we started working at Tinkle to change this and equalise the world by introducing more characters from female perspectives," she adds.

The first such character was Aisha, who got her own comic in 2012.

Aisha is what every child wants to be, she is desperate to acquire superpowers.

After trying several times, she discovers that she doesn't have any super power like other heroes to defeat bad guys. But soon she find "her gang" and together they give a "mad and fun twist to superhero missions", Ms Thindinath told the BBC.

image copyrightTinkle
image captionAisha doesn't have a flying cape or any super strength, but she has the ability to sense people around her who have "super weird" powers
image copyrightTinkle
image captionMs Thindiath says so many children able to relate with Aisha because she is a normal girl.

Making up the trio of female superheroes is Maya, who was launched by Tinkle last year.

Maya lives in a world run by magic, and is on a quest to find her father. She derives her powers from a robotic falcon named Psy.

image copyrightTinkle
image captionMaya derives her powers from a robotic falcon called Psy

Ms Thindinath says children understand suggestions better than instructions.

"We do subtle things like showing men doing house work and we hope that such ideas will help children see the world as an equal place for men and women," she says.

image copyrightTinkle
image captionTinkle wants to make children aware of gender equality

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  • India