Like every year, the fifth edition of the FICCI-NBT flagship programme CEOSpeak threw up a lot of interesting data on reading habits and  language publishing. The industry body, FICCI announced that it is establishing a Google Translation Centre in association with Google to reach out to regional centres and different publications in India.

Chief guest of the programme, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of State (Higher Education), Ministry of Human Resource Development, underlined the importance and relevance of promoting a reading culture in an era when internet has taken over the world by storm. In his keynote address, the minister said that ‘there were challenges in the sector such as education must be spread across the country. Also regional languages must be promoted as it will help in reaching out to wider readers and enhance the habit of reading’. Most speakers emphasised the importance of promoting the reading culture.
The event was organised on 8 January  alongside the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) 2017. The programme is a one-of-its-kind forum of CEOs and Senior Executives of the publishing industry. CEOSpeak aims to discuss and share common issues and concerns affecting publishers to evolve a composite agenda of Indian publishing industry. The theme this year was, The Idea and Business of Creating Culture of Reading: Experiences and Challenges Across Societies. The programme witnessed participation of over 100 CEOs from the publishing sector from India and other countries.
Secretary General, FICCI, A Didar Singh  moderated the opening session and  briefed the delegates about FICCI’s initiatives in the publishing sector and position on various policies. He announced that ‘FICCI is establishing a Google Translation Centre in association with Google to reach out to regional centres and different publications in India’. He said that FICCI will work with the government on its book promotion policy and facilitate in making India a ‘knowledge nation’ and spread this knowledge across countries.
The opening ceremony of the CEOSpeak was also enriched by the views from two eminent guests, Alessandra Bertini Malgarini, Direttore, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre and Salim Omar Salim, Director of Sales & Marketing, Sharjah Book Authority. Sharing some interesting data on Italy’s reading habits,  Malgarini said that in a recent survey it was found that in Italy 92 per cent people watch TV every day, 58 per cent listen to radio and 60 per cent are connected to internet whereas only 42 per cent people read one book in a year. Also women read more than men and students in the age group of 15-17 years have a reading habit. She added that the embassy of Italy was helping in translation of Indian languages to encourage reading culture. Salim said that Sharjah Publishing Institute and public libraries were being established to promote reading and encourage the next generation to read books.
Baldeo Bhai Sharma, Chairman, National Book Trust, welcoming the delegates, emphasised that ‘to inculcate the habit of reading amongst people it is imperative to make books available in far-flung regions of the country at an affordable cost’. He added that books and reading has the ability to shape a nation as it can enable a person to emerge as a better human being. Highlighting NBT’s work,  Sharma said that books and reading have been an integral part of India’s heritage and NBT was organising domestic, international and New Delhi World Book Fair, where subsidy is provided to publishers to encourage their participation and bring regional books to the mainstream. He added that to develop a reading culture, ‘parents must gift their children a book on their birthday’. 
The opening session was followed by a panel discussion ‘The Business of Books in South Asia’ which was moderated by  Urvashi Butalia, Chair, FICCI Publishing Committee. More thought-provoking and experience-sharing part of the programme was the Open House session moderated by Rohit Kumar, Co-Chair, FICCI Publishing Committee. Participating CEOs from publishing industry put forward their concerns and shared their comments and suggestions. The programme concluded with Closing Remarks from National Book Trust delivered by Rita Chowdhury, Director, NBT, and Vote of Thanks from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry delivered by Sumeet Gupta, Director, FICCI.
Osamazaid Rahman
Deputy Director, Ficci

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