Books and educational materials for Bihar

Book printing business in Bihar

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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.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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