Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource Development has mooted that there be a neighborhood book policy in the country. The aim should be that in the manner of neighborhood schools, there should be neighborhood libraries and reading rooms. He gave this suggestion to the Task Force that has prepared the Draft National Book Promotion Policy while speaking at a Round Table held to discuss the policy, here today. He added that the model of libraries/reading rooms being followed in Tamil Nadu(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. He also said that state governments would have to be involved for this.

Shri Sibal was speaking at the conclusion of a robust discussion where a number of suggestions were made regarding the draft policy. He asked the Task Force to rework on the draft policy accordingly and also asked the task force 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.

The minister also suggested to the Task Force to look at preparing a pricing policy for books, which would be advisory and not mandatory, consistent with international norms, in their report. He also asked the Task Force to take a fresh look at the publishing of school text books and whether greater private sector involvement could be looked at here. He also 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 also pointed out the vast scope of translations of books in India from one language to the other.

Shri Sibal stated that as the Task Force 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 can be avoided. He also asked the Task Force to look at how the electronic media can be asked to participate in the popularization of reading. He also talked about the requirement of creative writing modules and of at least one hour every week being dedicated to reading in schools.

Shri Sibal underlined the need of 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 an idea 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 can 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 de tails and the sifting mechanism.

The Round Table was attended by stakeholders including publishers, authors, academicians and representatives from the Ministries of I&B 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.

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Kapil Sibal chairs a Round Table on Draft New National Book Promotion Policy, in New Delhi on October 16, 2010.  	The Secretary (HE), Smt. Vibha Puri Das is also seen.
The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Kapil Sibal chairs a Round Table on Draft New National Book Promotion Policy, in New Delhi on October 16, 2010. The Secretary (HE), Smt. Vibha Puri Das is also seen.


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