Books and educational materials for Bihar

Book printing business in Bihar


The Bihar state education department, in August, instructed district education officers (DEOs) and district programme officers (DPOs) to transfer money allotted for purchase of textbooks to the bank accounts of parents of underage students who do not have their own bank accounts. On the other hand, students belonging to the economically disadvanted sections of the society apparently use these funds for personal expenditure.

Commenting on the Bihar book situation, Rajesh Khar, editor of Pratham Books explains, “It is not only Bihar, I think it is a universal issue. In poor households, the first priority becomes bread, second clothes, third shelter, and if there is anything left at all, it goes to health, education remains last. A child can still survive without education. It is only when people realize that it is one of the most fundamental needs of life and the mind, then they will invest in education.

“In most urban areas like Delhi, poor people send their children to the nearest public or private schools and they gladly pay for it. It is because they understand the importance of education and it differentiates them from those who don’t spend money on education. Talking about Bihar, the people are dependent on guaranteed employment programs and schemes and barely meet their ends and when they come across extra money, it is quickly spent on other important things. It is not intentional but a vicious circle. When they can’t afford education, their status remains stagnant. They remain poor and are unable to afford education and grow.”

Talking about the ways the situation can be dealt with, he says, “If the government of Bihar looks at publishers like us, we can physically provide books to an extent. If the books are not available in Bihar, we can provide them with supplementary reading materail which can be used to teach in schools. In the past, we developed 100 readable cards in partnership with the Bihar government for children of various levels so that they could be used in anganwadis and primary schools. Pratham Books went and supervised the whole project. We gave the entire content for free and the Government of Bihar produced it.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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