Need for an institutional framework for India-China co-operation in publishing


Into its fourth edition, the FICCI-NBT flagship programme CEOSpeak, has been at the centre of the New Delhi World Book Fair since 2013. The programme is one-ofits- kind forum of CEOs and senior executives of the publishing industry. CEOSpeak aims to discuss and share common issues and concerns affecting publishers to evolve a composite agenda of Indian publishing. The focus of this year’s CEOSpeak was the participation of China as the Guest of Honour country at the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF). CEOSpeak was organised on the second day of the NDWBF on January 10, 2016 at Hotel Ashok, New Delhi. This year’s CEOSpeak witnessed representation of over a hundred publishers from China, under the leadership of HE Sun Shoushan, hon’ble vice minister of State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), People’s Republic of China. Shoushan emphasised that the programme offers a unique opportunity to explore new areas and promote new approaches of bilateral publishing exchange and cooperation. He further highlighted that ‘In the long history of the development of human civilization, China and India have both created resplendent civilisations and made indelible contributions to the development and prosperity of human civilisation’ and that cultural exchange between India and China dates back to 2000 years. “Contact and cooperation on books is an important way to drive the cultural exchange and mutual learning between China and India in the new era,” he emphasized. Terming digital revolution as the future direction of the publishing industry, he stated that Chinese and Indian publishers are working to adapt to the developments in digital publishing technologies.

Shoushan proposed that China and India should give importance to joint publication of books, particularly of classics; make full use of existing cooperation platforms; strengthen cooperation in the field of digital publication; and work together to cultivate publishing talents. Such a situation, he emphasised, will be a win-win development for both the countries.

Recent cooperation between the Indian and Chinese publishing community has achieved new heights. In 2013, China and India signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the mutual translation and publication of Chinese and Indian classic and temporary works, an important example of which is the translation of Collection of Surdas’ Poems. In 2014, the Encyclopedia of China-India Cultural Contacts co-compiled by Chinese and Indian scholars was published in both countries, which marked a significant achievement in the publishing contacts and cooperation between the two countries. It is estimated that more than 400 Indian literary works have been translated into Chinese since the 1950s, and more than 500 Indian books have been published in Chinese between 2000 and 2015.

HE Le Yucheng, ambassador, Embassy of People’s Republic of China, New Delhi, said that he widely travelled in India and was fortunate to find people speaking in Chinese in some places. He emphasised on peopleto- people ties between the two countries. Yucheng reiterated that cooperation in publishing between India and China, will further strengthen ties and will lead to an exchange of ideas and knowledge.

Emphasising the thoughtprocess behind creating a forum such as CEOSpeak, Baldeo Bhai Sharma, chairman, National Book Trust, India said that while history has witnessed thousands years of cultural contact between the two countries, it is now time that more understanding of contemporary culture and literature should be created. “After all, what do the women writers of our two nations think and write? What is the idea behind contemporary children’s literature in these two countries? What are the concerns of the young writers? These issues and ideas should also be brought to light through publishing and literary contracts,” he added. Devin Narang, managing director (India), Sindicatum, emphasising possible areas of cooperation between India and China, encouraged publishers to explore translating opportunities in books, explore opportunities in the paper industry, strengthen cooperation in STM publication, and also set-up “India – China Business Forum in Publishing”. He urged FICCI to take this forward. Dr Arbind Prasad, director general, FICCI stated that in the recent past FICCI has highlighted business potential of Indian Publishing at Frankfurt Book Fair. He also mentioned about FICCI’s initiatives in publishing in Bangladesh and plans to undertake similar exercise at the London Book Fair. He said that FICCI would also be keen to take this dialogue further with the publishing community in China.

The programme also witnessed two focus session on ‘India-China Cooperation in Publishing’ and ‘Innovations in Publishing.’ During the session on ‘India-China Cooperation in Publishing,’ Peng Zhaoping, China South Publishing & Media Group, listed some of the Indian titles that the Group has published since the 1980s. However, she added that there are abundant cultural and intellectual exchange opportunities that remain to be explored. Rohit Kumar, co-chair, FICCI Publishing Committee, made a brief presentation on the digital publishing market in India. Manisha Chaudhry, head – Content Development, Pratham Books focused on ‘Children Publishing in India’ by showcasing the growth of this important genre in India. Li Yan, vice president, China Publishing Group Corporation, made a presentation on the evolution of the publishing industry in China.

During the session on ‘Innovations in Publishing,’ Ian Denison, head of publishing and branding, UNESCO, made a presentation on ‘Reading in the Mobile Era,’ which encompassed a study of mobile reading habits in developing countries. One of the major findings of the study was that people read more through mobile devices and that women read more on mobile platforms than men. Liu Feng, vice president of Phoenix Publishing and Media Inc, emphasised on digital publishing, that has revolution the publishing world, and the entry of big data in the existing publishing business models. It is time that the publishing industry fully embrace digital technology, he added. Vikas Gupta, managing director, John Wiley & Sons Inc, made a presentation on ‘Innovations in Higher Education & Learning,’ with a focus on creation of an ecosystem of outcomebased learning and skill development, which can bring together academic excellence and industry requirements, through a ‘learn’-‘do’-‘test’- ‘certify’ model.

The programme witnessed participation of over 150 CEOs from publishing sector from India, China and other countries.

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