Print News from Round the World

31 May 2017

This edition of the weekly update includes RBI to introduce new Re 1 currency note; Is Modi govt lying about its dealings with blacklisted British firm De La Rue?; Paper shortage delays printing of textbooks in Karnataka; The Times (of London) is expanding from digital to print (in Ireland); and in awe of newspaper printing techniques.


RBI to introduce new Re 1 currency note

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will soon introduce currency notes of one rupee denomination, the central bank has confirmed in a press release. The notes, which have already been printed by the Government of India, are legal tender under the Coinage Act, 2011. The existing currency notes in this denomination in circulation will also continue to be legal tender, the RBI stated.

The new note will have an overall colour scheme of pink and green on the obverse and reverse, in combination with other colours. The note will have the bilingual signature of Shaktikanta Das, secretary, Ministry of Finance.

The surrounding design of the note consists of a picture of ‘Sagar Samrat’, the oil exploration platform in Maharashtra. An inset letter in capitals, ‘L’ will also be printed on the note. Apart from this, the Ashoka Pillar, a hidden number ‘1’ and the hidden word ‘Bharat’ in Hindi will be printed on the note.

Following demonetisation, which was announced by prime minister Narendra Modi in November last year, the RBI has released two other currency notes of the Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denominations. (The Indian Express)

Is Modi govt lying about its dealings with blacklisted British firm De La Rue?

A recovery suit filed by the Union government’s printing press has blown the lid off what has the potential to turn into a major scam. The Government Security Paper Mill in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh, has reportedly filed a suit in a local court seeking recovery of Rs 11 crore from British banknote manufacturer De La Rue. SPMCIL has alleged that the firm supplied sub-standard paper for printing of currency notes of Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations in 2016.

Prima facie, it looks like a simple case of a government-contractor supplying material of an inferior quality. It would have been that, but for another simple fact – the firm in question was blacklisted by the Union Home Ministry in 2011. Reports claim that De La Rue was blacklisted because one, it supplied the same currency printing paper to Pakistan as well and two, it had supplied Rs 300 crore worth of defective currency printing paper.

The issue had first come to fore in December 2016 during the demonetisation period, with Opposition parties raising it. The then chief of the Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi unit, Dilip Pandey, had claimed that De La Rue was printing currency at the Mysuru press in spite of being blacklisted by the UPA government, investigated by CBI in 2010-2011 and subsequently also named in the Panama Papers.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had then taken these allegations head-on, categorically asserting that the government had no “dealings” with De La Rue.

The printing of Indian currency is a particularly vexing issue since the government claims that the country has become full self-reliant in currency printing, but admits to import things like paper for the purpose. The government had told the Lok Sabha as far back as in August 2014 that the country had become self-reliant in printing of currencies and that the total requirement of about 21,000 million pieces of bank notes was being printed within the country.

However, the government had also told the same house in March 2017 that it was importing paper for printing of currency notes and was spending Rs 1000 crores every year for the purpose.

Details of any contract awarded to a private firm, foreign or domestic, are not easily available. A study claims that the machinery at the Mysore press has been supplied by De La Rue Giori, which is now known as KBA Giori, Switzerland.

Reports had also emerged earlier this year that the Maharashtra government had signed an agreement with De La Rue, awarding it 10 acres of land in Aurangabad where it will print Indian as well as foreign currency notes.

De La Rue has a long history of global shady dealings. India first gave it the contract to print currency in 1997-98 and since then RBI became one of the firm’s biggest clients. However, reports claim that a probe was ordered in 2009-10 when fake currency notes allegedly printed by De La Rue were found in RBI vaults. This was followed by reports of the firm supplying sub-standard paper. RBI even sent an official on a fact-finding mission in 2010 and the company was eventually blacklisted.

Is De La Rue, once headed by a man known as the godson of the Queen of England herself, back in business with the government of India? (Catch News)

Paper shortage delays printing of textbooks in Karnataka

Most schools in Karnataka have opened after summer vacation, but students will have to wait longer to get their textbooks. This is because printing of textbooks was delayed owing to shortage of paper. The Department of Public Instruction has now decided to distribute them in two phases. In the first phase, textbooks needed for the first term will reach schools within the next three days. The second installment of books will reach by 20 June.

As many as 21 printers had bagged the work orders, but were unable to obtain paper as some mills in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were closed owing to lack of raw material and water during March and April. “The closure of Mysore Paper Mills in Bhadravati had also affected paper supply,” a printer said. The paper used for textbooks is 60gsm.

A total of 511 titles have been printed this year for students from classes 1 to 10. Of the total 6.64 crore textbooks that are to be printed for the 2017-2018 academic year, 4.46 crore books are slotted to be distributed in phase one. Nearly 13% of the textbooks for phase one are yet to be printed, sources in the department said.

Printers also said there was delay on the part of the state government in issuing the work orders. The order was issued only in January-end, as against December every year. This was because there was confusion until January on whether the old textbooks framed when the BJP government was in power or those revised by the committee headed by Baragur Ramachandrappa should be printed. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, finally, instructed officials to ensure that the latter should go to print. Students of class 10, however, will follow the old syllabus textbooks, while class 9 students will get the NCERT textbooks. (The Hindu)

The Times (of London) is expanding from digital to print (in Ireland)

The Times of London is expanding its Irish edition from digital into print, a move that bucks against a continued trend of declining daily print sales in the country and elsewhere.

The Times launched its digital-only Ireland edition in September 2015 (after a failed legal challenge from the Irish Times to block News UK from using the name “The Times Irish Edition”). It has a substantial newsroom of around 30 reporters. Its new print edition will replace the international print version of The Times that’s currently available there; readers can pick up the first print copies 3 June.

News Ireland has not disclosed pricing for the print edition; the current digital edition costs new subscribers 1 pound for a 30-day trial, and then 5 pound a week thereafter.

“We have built a loyal digital audience for the Ireland edition of The Times and we are now delighted to expand what we offer to include more Irish news, business, sport, opinion and analysis in print as well,” Richard Oakley, editor of the Ireland edition, said in a statement. “The Ireland edition of The Times is a quality Irish newspaper with a global outlook.” (Niemanlab.org)

In awe of newspaper printing techniques

It was a day to remember for the members of Nagpur For Kids (NFK) Club. Not only did they get to learn where news comes from, they also got to see how it appears in the newspapers. They got to experience all this during a tour organised by The Times of India (TOI) of its printing press at MIDC Butibori on Friday. Children were thrilled to learn how all five editions — TOI, Nagpur Times, The Economic Times, Maharashtra Times and Nagpur Plus — are printed, arranged page wise, packed and distributed.

Manish Zade, manager at the press, guided the kids on all the processes involved in publishing one edition of a broadsheet newspaper. The kids were first taken to the CTP room where templates for pages are made. Assistant manager Gaurav Parekh explained the process to kids and said, “The plates are made of aluminium and coated with a light sensitive chemical which is then put in a machine that prints the page layout onto the plates. The plates are then bent from top and bottom so that they can be fixed on the printing rollers.”

The kids learnt that photographs and graphics in a newspaper comprise of four colours — cyan, magenta, yellow and black — and that their codes are C, M, Y and K respectively. Parekh informed the kids that four plates of each colour have to be made for a single page.

Next, Zade showed children the starting point of the press where rolls of paper are fed into the machine. He told children that there are two mechanical arms that swap paper rolls when first roll is about to get over. “When the computers detect a roll is about to get over, it will change it over to a new roll which is already kept ready. The transition is done within a fraction of a second and there is no need to stop the press,” he said.

Children were curious to know how much ink and paper the press needs and Zade informed them that approximately 15 tonnes of paper, 2.2 tonnes of black ink and a tonne each of other colour inks are used by the press in one month. Zade also said that recycled paper in used in the press.

Finally, the children saw a machine arranging the newspapers in a neat stack and packing them with a plastic tape. While explaining distribution of newspapers, Zade said, “After all editions are printed, packed vehicles line up in front of the factory and load the cargo at 4 am. Each vehicle is designated to deliver newspapers to a particular location in the city. From there hawkers and paper boys collect newspapers and deliver to houses in their respective areas.” (The Times of India)

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