Focus on translations at Jaipur Literature Festival

British Council brings together experts at Jaipur BookMark

Participants of the roundtable on translations at Jaipur Bookmark.

British Council, the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, hosted a session on Developing a Market for Translations at the Jaipur BookMark, the B2B section of the Jaipur Literature Festival ’23.

The session was attended by Alice Mullen of Poetry Book Society, UK; Bijal Vachharajani of Pratham Books India; Hélène Butler of Johnson & Alcock, UK; Leonie Lock, Firefly Press, UK; Molly Slight, Scribe UK; Rahul Soni of HarperCollins India; Raman Shrestha of Rachna Books India; Riddhi Maitra of BEE Books India; Sarabjeet Garcha of Copper Coin Publishing India; Sarah Braybrooke, Bonnier UK; Tamara Sampey-Jawad of Fitzcarraldo Editions’ and Yogesh Maitreya of Panther’s Paw Publications. The session was moderated by Neeta Gupta.

Neeta Gupta, Moderator at the session

Jonathan Kennedy, director Arts India, British Council, said in his welcoming note that publishing and translation play an important role in cultural exchange by making literature, ideas, and information from one culture available to people from other cultures. “The 2022 International Publishing Fellowship, which is part of India/UK Together, a Season of Culture, is a peer-to-peer mentoring and professional development program in which publishers from the UK are matched with publishers from India who are at a similar career stage and have similar publishing interests. Our ambition for the 12 publishing fellows from India and the UK is to develop their skills, an international network to help publishers expand trade, and a global audience and appreciation for works in translation”

In advance of the India/UK Together Season of Culture, the British Council commissioned a new piece of research mapping the Indian literature and publishing sector, with a particular focus on Indian language publishing. The study sought to identify the difficulties encountered by Indian publishers, agents, authors, translators, and industry organizations in making literature written in Indian languages more widely available to an international English-speaking audience.

Jonathan Kennedy, director arts, British Council, at Jaipur Bookmark.

The report looked at ways to work and collaborate more globally, specifically with the United Kingdom, to promote Indian literature in translation. With a wealth of 19,569 languages or dialects spoken as mother tongues in India, translation into and from Indian languages, has existed long before the invention of the printing press. While translation between Indian languages is common, there is little Indian literature that has been translated into English. 

India/UK Together, Season of Culture is a program of arts, English, and education that celebrates India’s 75th anniversary and builds on the British Council’s commitment to creating opportunities between the two countries. One of the season’s themes is ‘India’s Multilingual Literature – The Global Opportunity,’ which aims to showcase India and the UK’s diversity, create international opportunities for emerging writers, and build international networks. Each of the four literature projects focuses on a different aspect of the industry: editors, translators, prose and poetry writers. 

The first project is the British Council’s International Publishing Fellowship (IPF), designed and delivered in collaboration with the Art X Company in India. The publishing fellowship is a peer-to-peer mentoring and professional development program that brings together publishers from India and the United Kingdom to share knowledge and expand their networks. The fellows will soon visit Edinburgh, Newcastle, and London to meet with the UK sector, followed by trips to Bengaluru, Jaipur, and Delhi in the coming year. The IPF is in its second edition, following its debut in 2019 with publishers from Georgia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. 

With the world’s attention focused on it, the Indian publishing industry has grown rapidly with the goal of creating a meaningful B2B platform for publishers. As part of the International Publishing Fellowship, the Roundtable at Jaipur BookMark provided the opportunity to interact with the rest of the publishing industry.

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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