The man who loved print

Surinder Khurana – 1 September 1947 – 18 November 2018

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Born just at the time of the country’s independence, Surinder Khurana graduated from Delhi University, and the Northern Regional Institute of Printing Technology in Allahabad. Print was his first and last love. He admired print in every form and worked to promote the print industry throughout his life.

Khurana-ji attended the Pressman’s Course at the Heidelberg Ganges Print Institute, Mumbai and participated in an All India Educational Tour visiting large printers across India in 1966. This was followed by in-plant training and work in the photo-typesetting and composition department of Thomson Press India in Faridabad from 1967 to 1969.

He went to work for an advertising agency as a production assistant in 1969 and left four years later as its production manager to become the co-founder of a print production agency. Working for various global and national accounts, he was conferred the National Award for Excellence in Printing and Designing from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India.

In 1996, he founded the bi-monthly Print & Publishing trade journal, one of the first privately owned industry publications that continues to be published today by the S Publishing company that he founded and that is run today by his son, Sonal Khurana.

The S Media group thrived with Khurana-ji starting up a spate of journals helped by his son and his daughter-in-law Shweta. Sign & Graphics was established in 2000, followed by All About Newspapers in 2005. All About Book Publishing was established in 2010. All of these have become leading industry journals. Today, the S Media Group has seven publications including, Print & Publishing, Sign & Graphics, All About Newspapers, All About Book Publishing, Dogs & Pups, The Progressive School, and The Progressive Teacher.

Surinder Khurana actively engaged with educational institutions and specifically with the printing schools and institutes in Northern India. On the board of several printing and packaging institutes, he was deeply involved in the development of diploma and degree courses so that they could be more responsive to technology change and to the needs of a fast-evolving industry.

As a leader of the print community, Khurana-ji was a pillar of strength for printers with whom he shared his knowledge and ideas. For his family he was the builder who gave encouragement. Modest, calm and serene, he would only smile knowingly when discussing some of the foibles and shortcomings of our industry. He always managed to find the silver lining behind the darkest cloud. With a disarmingly infectious smile, he made friends easily.

It was an honor to travel with Khurana-ji as unofficial and unelected representatives of an industry that was growing and evolving – to try and present a picture of both the constraints and the aspirations of an industry’s hunger for technology. Travelling with him always meant long walks and explorations of new neighborhoods – in everything we saw, we saw only the prosperity of print.

Khurana-ji’s wife Savitri died earlier this year. As many in the industry knew, he had been ill for the past three years but he was looked after with great fortitude by his wife, his daughter-in-law Shweta, his daughter Bhavna and his son Sonal who has, in the past eighteen years, ably assisted him in growing the publishing business. Perhaps Surinder Khurana’s gentleness, generosity and kindness are the legacy that is most apparent in the institution and the family he leaves behind.

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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