Kapil Sibal calls for a neighbourhood book policy

Posted By: Nitsi
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New Delhi, Oct.16 (ANI): Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal has said that there should a neighborhood book policy in the country.

He said the aim should be that in the manner of neighborhood schools, there should be neighborhood libraries and reading rooms.

While speaking at a Round Table held to discuss the policy in the national capital, Kapil Sibal gave his suggestion to the Task Force that has prepared the raft National Book Promotion Policy.

He added that the model of libraries/reading rooms being followed in Tamil adu (pointed out and praised by some members of the round table) could be looked at by the Task Force to be incorporated in their report.

Sibal, however, said that state governments would have to be involved in this.

Speaking at the conclusion of a discussion during which a host of suggestions were made regarding the draft policy, the Union Human Resource Minister asked the Task Force to rework on the draft policy accordingly and also asked it to hold meetings with students and parents who are also stakeholders, subsequent to a suggestion in this regard by a participant in the Round Table.

He also suggested to the Task Force to look at preparing a pricing policy for books, which would be advisory in nature instead of being mandatory, consistent with international norms, in their report.

The Minister also asked the Task Force to have a fresh look at the publishing of school textbooks and find out if greater private sector involvement could be looked at.

Sibal pointed out to the publishing industry that a huge opportunity awaits them in the publishing of e-books, especially for children's books that can be illustrated.

He sought to draw publishers' attention towards the vast scope of translations of books in the country from one language to the other.

Sibal stated that the Task Force should also look at incorporating the suggestion from a round table member that the publishers make available electronic manuscripts of books to Braille book publishers so that the effort of retyping a book could be avoided.

The Minister also asked the Task Force to explore the possibilities ofobtaining the electronic media's cooperation for popularisation of reading in the country.

Sibal mentioned about the requirement of creative writing modules and of at least one hour every week being dedicated to reading in schools.

He underlined the need for a policy framework to reach out to potential authors, especially in small places, who find it very difficult to find publishers.

The Minister asked the Task Force that one of the ideas that could be looked at was the setting up of a national level website, connected to the states and to the districts. So that those, who seek to author books, could reach out to a committee/committees consisting of government and non-government members.

This would be a forum to enable a person to access publishers, which is otherwise extremely difficult for an ordinary person. The Task Force could work at the details and the sifting mechanism.

The Round Table was attended by stakeholders including publishers, authors, academicians and representatives from the Ministries of Information and Broadcasting and Culture, among others.

Views expressed by members included greater access to libraries for all, including those in the rural areas and in slums; books in electronic format being made available to libraries and to publishers of Braille books; setting up of creative writing centres; private publishers being allowed greater access to publishing of school textbooks; bringing down the cost of books, the possibility of development funds earmarked for rural areas being used for purchase of books and of the preparation of a policy to encourage writing. (ANI)

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