Innovative ideas, new perspectives, fresh energy… Gen-X publishing professionals are dynamic and eager to take their companies to newer heights. Varsha Verma of All About Book Publishing met one such young professional in the book publishing industry. Excerpts. Monica Malhotra Kandhari,
managing director
MBD Group

Monica Malhotra KandhariStarted in the year 1956 by Shri Ashok Kumar Malhotra, MBD Group is the leading education company in India which has diversified into e-learning, m-learning, skill development, eco friendly notebooks, paper manufacturing, ICT infrastructure, hospitality, real estate, mall development and management. More recently, MBD Group has launched Virtual Reality (VR) based content and device, which will be made available for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The Group plans to invest Rs 50 crores in the next three to five years in this space. “Our modules have been well appreciated by Dr Mahinder Nath Pandey, honourable Minister of State for HRD (Higher Education)," shares Monica Malhotra Kandhari, managing director, MBD Group.

Monica, daughter of Shri Ashok Kumar Malhotra, started her entrepreneurial journey at a very young age. Presently a managing director in MBD Group, she learned her ropes in this very outfit at the shop floor. Under her aegis, MBD group has ventured globally with the launch of its first publishing branch in South Africa (Cape Town).

Along with family business of education, publishing & printing, Monica led her company to venture into the hospitality industry to pursue her father’s vision with the launch of its first Five Star Deluxe Hotel - ‘The Radisson Blu MBD Hotel’, Noida and later launched Radisson Blu MBD Hotel in Ludhiana; and two Mixed Use Development projects - MBD Neopolis Ludhiana and MBD Neopolis Jalandhar.

“To begin with, we have 250 VR modules according to syllabi for K-12 in subjects like Science and Maths. We wish to enhance the curiosity of children and involve them in learning. Virtual reality helps to explain difficult concepts to children in an easy to understand way,” she adds. “With this, we wish to service different learning curves. The development of such technologies is an ongoing process and we are constantly adding new features or content.”

“Apart from the Group’s own VR device, MBD’s VR content is compatible with all other leading VR devices like Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift etc., for wider accessibility. As part of our virtual reality initiative, we are also developing interactive walk-throughs such as the solar system, the zoo and other educational objects/environments. We are also planning to offer pocket-friendly MBD branded VR devices which will help students to enjoy learning in the virtual world,” adds Monica. “Infact, we are trying that if the teacher is not present, even then the child can reach the next level through the process of gamification,” she adds.

Since teachers would require a different level of skillset for the same, MBD would provide training as well. “The penetration would be slow but we hope that this would be the next big thing is education,” says Monica.

Other initiatives…

Monica is the driving force behind MBD Skills Division, formed to provide skill development training in the field of IT, ITES & Hospitality, with the aim of bridging the gap between the supply and demand of skilled manpower. MBD Alchemie, an e-learning company of MBD Group is another clinching proof of her undying enthusiasm, unlimited spirit of innovative and unbounded energy to keep pace with the times. “We also offer MBD Nytra an Augmented Reality app (watch books come alive), MBDsmart books (educational tablets) and MBD Nyx (collaborative classrooms) for the end users,” she adds.

On asking about the benefits of e-learning, Monica replies that it gives an edge with competitors, sustains growth and it sells by itself. “There is a large canvas to play and online selling has made things very easy. The growth due to digitised products is phenomenal,” she adds.

Road ahead…

The Group is also coming out with an online education portal for teachers and students. Initially, the e-book portal will have books for K-12 segment, covering all states, all subjects and all major boards. Moving forward, students can also access vocational and skill development books from the portal.

On asking about the competition in the industry, Monica shares that since MBD produces everything in-house, other players cannot compete with them. “I feel the future would be a combination of augmented reality, virtual reality, ebooks and of course print books. Private schools, with higher fee structure would use VR and AR but government would be the largest buyer as they are looking at setting up experience centres, where they will add VR labs,” she shares. Another important point she mentioned was that if lessons are on cloud, they can be accessed home by students.

“India still has a lot of potential and inspite of diversity, there’s still a room to grow. Publishing industry gives a lot of employment to people in India and government should look at it like an industry. It is a noble profession and I am proud to be here,” concludes Monica.