“We are promoting aspiring writers, besides promoting reading habits”


shares Baldeo Bhai Sharma, chairman, NBT, India in conversation with Varsha Verma. NBT, India has been constantly creating opportunities for new and aspiring writers and has been instrumental in bringing quality literature in more than 30 languages. Here’s a peek into the newer happenings at NBT, India.

India is a land of rich literature. The earliest works of Indian literature were orally transmitted. Writers have contributed a lot to the dissemination of Indian literature, which is read and appreciated globally. The National Book Trust (NBT), India is an apex body established by the Government of India (Department Of Higher Education, Ministry Of Human Resource Development) in the year 1957, to produce and encourage the production of good literature In English, Hindi and other Indian languages and to make such literature available at moderate prices to the public and to promote reading habits.

NBT, India @ London Book Fair

“At the recently concluded London Book Fair 2017, NBT, India organized a Collective Exhibit of Books from India, which was much appreciated. We hope that Indian publishers come together in a big way in other international exhibitions. Besides, we organised a meet of the Indian Diaspora Writers to elicit their views on projecting the work of Indian Diaspora Writers of UK in India. The year 2017, is also marked as UK-India Year of Culture celebrations,” shares NBT, India chairman, Baldeo Bhai Sharma. More than 15 Indian writers settled in various parts of UK, participated in the discussion. While the Indian diaspora writers constitute only 1% of population of UK, its contribution to GDP of UK is more than 3%. “Some of the writers discussed their on-going projects with NBT, INDIA, while also suggested books on themes like travelogues, books for children, Indian flora and fauna, and anthologies of short stories and poetry written by Indian Diaspora writers,” he added.

The writers who attended the meeting included Tajendra Sharma, Aruna Sabharwal, Shikha Varshney, Indu Berot, and Geeta Sharma (London), Mohan Rana (Bath), Vandana Sharma and Mukesh Sharma (Birmingham), Jaya Verma and Dr. Mahipal Verma (Nottingham), Divya Mathur (Hertfordshire), Gurcharan Singh (Loughborough), Kadambari Mehra (Surrey), and Suresh Chandra Shukla, who came from Oslo, Norway. Besides the authors, K S Rao, secretary, Sahitya Akademi, Rajinder Chaudhry, director, Publication Division, Tarun Kumar, Hindi officer, Indian High Commission, and officers from NBT, India also participated in the discussions.

“We want writers to create literature for the future generation in new subjects like technology, entrepreneurship, challenges in new era, etc. All these topics also formed a part of the discussion there,” adds Sharma.

“All in all, the London Book Fair was a fruitful fair for all participants and publishers. This has given us a new direction to think how to bring together Indian diaspora writers across the world on a common platform and create good literature on new topics,” he shares.

Another important point that Sharma mentions is that international book fairs give us an opportunity to showcase our rich treasure of literature from heritage to modern, culture, knowledge and science. “This way people around the world can know more about our country and literature,’ he says.

“Later during a call on the Honourable High Commissioner, possibilities of institutionalising the projection of Indian Diaspora Writing from UK in India were discussed to which the Honourable High Commissioner promised to extend full co-operation,” adds Sharma.

Publishing projects…

Since NBT, India promotes reading and literature, they have recently tied up with a publisher in Japan to publish five books for children on cleanliness. “These books will be published in English and later may be published in other Indian languages as well,” shares Sharma.

“Besides, under the Navlekhan Mala programme for youth, we are bringing out around 20 books, which would be launched at the upcoming New Delhi World Book Fair. Also, under the Mahila Lekhan Protsahan Yojana, under which women writers are being encouraged, we got many good manuscripts for publication, which are under the selection process and we hope to bring a few books under this project at the New Delhi World Book Fair,” he adds.

Another programme which NBT, India is currently working is to promote literature in regional dialects so that people can read literature in their own language. “With this, people will connect to their roots, know about their heritage, eminent personalities, freedom fighters, women of substance etc. At the Ranchi Book Fair, we have floated this project for Santali language,’ he adds. “We can later translate these books to different languages and vice versa. This will help Indians to know more about their own country,” he said. NBT, India has already published 24 books in three regional dialects of Bihar and 10 books in regional dialect in Tripura.

It is quite interesting to know that though NBT, India publishes books in 30 languages for last 60 years, there are no books published in Sanskrit. “So, this year, we have planned to publish books in Sanskrit language and the first book on Gandhi Tatva Shatkam will be launched soon,” shares Sharma.

Promoting readership…

On the occasion of National Book Festival being celebrated throughout the country, National Book Trust India organized mobile book exhibitions (Pustak Parikrama) in rural parts of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The exhibition vans visited rural areas, schools, colleges, major bus stands, city markets, Panchayat samitis and Aanganwadi of these districts.

Training courses in book publishing

“As a part of the celebration of 60 years of NBT, India, we have started exclusive training programmes for girls. For the first time, such a training programme in book publishing will be organized at Aditi College in August,” he shares.

Talking about the book publishing course, Sharma said that these courses would help participants understand the different aspects of the publishing and start their career in the industry. This is inline with the Skill India project started by the government of India.

Another first to their credit is that they have organized a week-long training course in book publishing at two centres in UP – the UGC Human Resource Development Centre, Benaras Hindu University, Varanasi and Choudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut.

“These programmes are targeted at graduates. We want youth to know that publishing industry is expanding and there are immense employment opportunities in this segment. Since these are skilling programmes, we give them required knowledge and skill to start their career in publishing. We organized eight such programmes last year and we are planning to organize 12 such programmes this year. Each programme has 45-50 students but more recently, we skilled 116 students in Tripura and 126 students in Udaipur,” he explains.

On a concluding note…

“It is a myth among people that NBT, India is only associated with reputed well-known litterateurs and established authors. Common people stay away from writing as they feel that they will not get a chance to get published. But, we want people to come forward and share their knowledge, cultural awareness, etc. With our programmes for youth and women, people now know that there are opportunities for new writers as well. This is because we want new writers to come up and continue the rich legacy of writing,” concludes Sharma.

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