The National Book Trust, India is striving to encourage reading habits and book culture in India. They are also helping young debutant authors to get published. Here, Baldeo Bhai Sharma, chairman, National Book Trust, India, shares more about the various activities undertaken by NBT, India, in conversation with Varsha Verma.

The National Book Trust (NBT), India, an apex body established by the Government of India (Department of Higher Education, Ministry Of Human Resource Development), aims 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 bring out book catalogues, arrange book fairs/exhibitions and seminars and take all necessary steps to make the people book minded.

Encouraging women writers …

“In order to encourage women authors from various regional languages in India, NBT, India, has come up with a programme where women authors below the age of 40 years and who are looking to publish their first book, can submit their manuscripts to NBT, India. These manuscripts will then be analysed on the basis of literary quality and then will be published in various genres like fiction, short stories, travelogue, diary etc. We recently held a literary meeting where litterateurs like Sur Bala, Chandrakanta, Dr Vishesh Gupta, Dr Srinavas Rao, Balram, Vivek Mishra, etc participated and it was decided that we will focus on this project,” told Baldeo Bhai Sharma, chairman, NBT, India. “In order to achieve this, we will also organize workshops in various parts of the country for women authors.”

Celebrating women…

On the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2016, the National Book Trust, India brought out a series of books on great Indian women who actively participated in the freedom struggle and worked for the upliftment of the society. “‘Women Pioneers’ is a new initiative of NBT India, that aims to bring to light as well as project the work and contribution of eminent Indian women in different walks of life like art, culture, literature, science, socio-religious reforms, freedom movement, etc,” told Sharma. Each title of this sub-series under the National Biography series of the Trust, is written for the general reader with the view to develop new perspectives on the contemporary discourses pertaining to Indian culture, civilization and endeavours for nation-building. Four titles in English and four in Hindi have come out under this series and many more are to follow in major Indian languages. “The books include: Rani Chennamma by Sadashiva Shivadeva Wodeyar; Kanaklata Barua by Shiela Bora; Sister Nivedita by Basudha Chakravarty; Rani Rudrama by Devi Alekhya Punjala,” he shared. “Four books from our backlist were also published in a new clavier.”

Nav Lekhan Mela…

“We are also focusing to rope in more young regional authors under our Nav Lekhan Mala series. Last year, we published 16 books of which 9 were in Hindi and 7 in regional languages,” told Sharma. Under this programme, debutant authors under the age of 40 years can submit their manuscripts for publication.

Promoting reading habit…

“It is a continuous effort at NBT, India, to promote reading habit amongst not just children, but adults as well. Our mobile bookshops go to faraway places and their response is so encouraging that it makes us believe that it is a myth that reading habit is decreasing. People want to read but they are not able to read as either the books are not available to them or they are expensive. NBT, India, offers good books at affordable prices. In a village in Orissa, people bought books worth Rs 4 lakh, which is a good amount. We even went to adivasi areas and there also, we found people wanted to read,” he said.

“Besides, NBT, India, also organised book fairs in various parts of the country. Last year alone, we organised around 10 book fairs, including one in a tribal area in Udaipur. We got an encouraging response and were pleased to see that there were so many women readers,” he added.

NBT, India also organises workshops in schools and they provide grant to NGOs to encourage reading habits as well. “Last year, a grant of Rs 1 crore was given to the NGOs as we believe that there is a big contingent of non-students also (adults), who need to read more,” he said.

Promoting regional languages…

Not just reading, NBT, India, is also striving to encourage regional languages which have very few books. More recently, we organized a workshop for children books in Karkbarak language in Tirupara. In this workshop, both authors and illustrators worked together and some of these manuscripts will soon be published by us,” told Sharma.

“As many as 21 books will be published in three languages in Bihar – Maghai, Maithili and Bhojpuri – these books will be released at the occasion of Teacher’s Day (September 5) in Patna,” he added.

On a concluding note…

“NBT, India, is working towards making India a knowledge country. We are working in the public interest and constantly strive to publish good literature at affordable rates and try to reach each and every corner of the country. We also work towards promoting Indian books to other countries through international book fairs. We want the face of the Indian publishing to shine everywhere,” concludes Sharma optimistically.



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