MoS for HRD (Higher Education) underlines importance of promoting reading culture at the 5th edition of ‘CEOSpeak over Chairman’s Breakfast 2017. The fifth edition of the FICCI-NBT flagship programme CEOSpeak was organised alongside the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) 2017. The programme is one-of-its-kind forum of CEOs and Senior Executives of the publishing industry, which aims to discuss and share common issues & concerns affecting publishers to evolve a composite agenda of Indian publishing industry.

Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI presenting Green Certificate to Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of State for HRD (Higher Education), Govt. of IndiaCoinciding with the 60th anniversary (1957-2017) celebrations of National Book Trust, India, the 5th edition of CEOSpeak Over Chairman's Breakfast focused on "The Idea and Business of Creating Culture of Reading: Experiences and Challenges Across Societies."

Chief Guest of the programme, Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Hon’ble Minister of State for HRD (Higher Education), Government of India, underlined the importance and relevance of promoting a reading culture in an era when internet has taken over the world by storm. He said that there was not only a need to acknowledge regional publications but also promote Indian languages as it will help in reaching out to wider readers and enhancing the habit of reading.

Baldeo Bhai Sharma, chairman, National Book Trust, India, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India highlighted that to inculcate the habit of reading amongst people, it is imperative to make books available in far-flung regions of the country at an affordable cost. He opined that books have the ability to shape a nation as it can enable a person to emerge as a better human being.

While, Alessandra Bertini Malgarini, Direttore, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre presented some interesting data about the reading culture in Italy. She mentioned that in recent survey it was found that in Italy 92 per cent people watch TV every day, 58 per cent listen to radio and 60 per cent are connected to internet whereas only 42 per cent people read one book in a year. Also women read more than men and students in the age group of 15-17 years have a reading habit. She added that the embassy of Italy was helping in translation of Indian languages to encourage reading culture.

Salim Omar Salim, director, Sharjah Book Authority said that the Sharjah Publishing Institute and public libraries were being established to promote reading and encourage the next generation to read books.

Dr. A Didar Singh, secretary general, FICCI moderated the opening session and also mentioned about FICCI’s initiatives in publishing sector and position on various policies. He informed delegates that FICCI is establishing a Google Translation Centre in association with Google to reach out to regional centres and different publications in India. He said that FICCI will be happy to work with the government on the book promotion policy and facilitate in making India a knowledge nation, and spread this knowledge across countries.

Panel discussion ‘The Business of Books in South Asia’ was moderated by Urvashi Butalia, chair, FICCI Publishing Committee. The panelists were Vijitha Yapa, immediate past president, Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association; Naveen Gupta, general secretary, Federation of Indian Publishers; Bidur Dangol, Nepal Booksellers and Publishers Association and Ramesh Mittal, chairman, CAPEXIL. The panel raised the challenges and issues related to trade of books in the subcontinent. Some of the initiatives taken in Sri Lanka and Nepal, both by the respective governments and the private sector were also mentioned. A need to further strengthen the trade relations in books business between Indian and other South Asian countries was cited.

Open House session, which was moderated by Rohit Kumar, co-chair, FICCI Publishing Committee, was quite thought-provoking. Participating CEOs from various publishing houses put forth their concerns and also shared some of the suggestions. Some of the key policy issues concerning national book promotion policy and the matters concerning copyright were highlighted. The programme concluded with closing remarks by Dr. Rita Chowdhury, director, NBT, and vote of thanks by Sumeet Gupta, Director, FICCI.

The programme witnessed participation of over 120 CEOs/senior executives from publishing sector from India and other countries.



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