No Money for Food, Rent’: How COVID Upset a Blind Couple’s Life

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No money for food, rent’: How COVID upset a blind couple’s life.

BRIEF

At a time when touching comes with a major health risk, how do the blind find their way around?

The more I thought about this question, the more I realised how crippling the impact of the pandemic was for the disadvantaged and challenged. And that led me to the story of Dharman and Uganthai. I travelled from Chennai to Chengalpattu, a COVID-19 hotspot, wearing a mask, face shield, gloves, so that their story would not go unheard.

Dharman was standing at the side of a narrow road, wearing a warm smile, and waving in the air when I first met him in Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu, where he lives with his wife, Uganthai, and his two-year-old son, Rohit.

World News Day 2020Confined to their homes in the wake of the pandemic, Dharman and Uganthai, a visually impaired couple who relied on trains as vendors, have been robbed off their income, but not their fighting spirit. They were struggling for every meal but I was inspired by their courage and determination in the face of adversity.  And, they showered me with love and kindness and shared their story.

What was overwhelming is the love and support that has been coming their way since the article was published. We have received hundreds of mails and messages extending financial help and the couple have received over 5 lakhs already. Today, they are confident of moving to a home that doesn’t leak and ensure their child gets the best education.

Every day when I call the couple to check on them, all they ask is, ‘Saptiya? Romba work panriya?’ (Did you eat? Or you just working all the time?)

Here is the link to the impact of the story we worked on: https://www.thequint.com/videos/the-quint-raises-over-4-lakhs-for-chengalpattu-blind-couple-visually-impaired

 

Indian Printer and Publisher is one of the publications supporting World News Day and we will be publishing shared stories from around the world with an emphasis on stories from the Indian newsrooms such as The Hindu Business Line, The Quint, and The Indian Express that have made their stories available, as well as a couple of our own stories.

Our own stories concerning the education, publishing and print industries that we are putting forward to share in the celebration of World News Day are:
Indian government Stop Print! by Shardul Sharma 
Indian media fatalities to virus exceed those to violence by Nava Thakuria Indian print media to lose Rs 18,000 crore in FY 20-21 by Naresh Khanna The end of the great international trade shows? by Ron Augustin

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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