Print News from Round the World

This edition of the weekly update includes S Chand trims early gains; govt to shut five non-feasible presses; currency in circulation may not match pre-8/11 levels; Indian cartographic agency gets in-house Braille; India for International Book Fair in Nigeria; a scooter-riding bookseller has served Kolkata better than Amazon; and Leila Seth: breaker of glass ceiling, deliverer of justice

10 May 2017 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

S Chand trims early gains; ends nearly 1% up on debut trade

Trimming early gains, shares of textbooks publisher S Chand and Company ended nearly 1% higher over the issue price of Rs 670 in its debut trade on 9 May. After listing at Rs 707, up 5.52%, the stock gave up most of its initial gains and ended at Rs 675.85, a gain of 0.87% on BSE. During the day, it touched a high of Rs 707 and a low of Rs 658.

On the NSE, the company’s stock went up by 0.89% to settle at Rs 676.

The stock commands a market valuation of Rs 2,344.88 crore on the BSE.

On the volume front, 22.26 lakh shares of the company were traded on the BSE and over one crore shares changed hands on NSE during the day. Price band for the IPO, which was opened from April 26-28, was set at Rs 660-670 a share.

The IPO saw solid investor demand and was oversubscribed 59.49 times. The portion for Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBs) was oversubscribed 44.27 times and that of non-institutional investors a staggering 204.65 times. Retail investors category was also oversubscribed 6.07 times. (The Hindu Business Line)

Govt to shut five non-feasible presses

The Union Urban Development Ministry (UDM) is in the process of modernising the Government-owned printing presses but will close down five old ones which are not only non-feasible but also continue to occupy prime land. A proposal to this effect is being finalised by the UD Ministry. Presently, there are 15 government-owned presses which print parliamentary papers, classified documents, the Union Budget, ballot papers, question papers, Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s (CAG) reports and text books, among many other crucial Government papers.

The machinery being used by these presses are 40-45 years old. Presently these presses are facing severe manpower shortage, forcing employees who are meant to operate the press machinery to sweep, cook and clean too.

Sources in UDM said that the Government is bringing a proposal to shut at least five of printing presses. A group of secretaries in UDM has suggested to close down printing press that are non-profitable and their and their land should be used for commercial purposes.  The Ministry has prepared a list of at least five such printing presses.

Sources further stated that in some of the presses the vacancies are more than 90% like in Koratty press (90%). In Coimbatore press, there 83% posts are vacant while Nilokheri and Temple Street and Faridabad presses have 75% vacancies. The strength of Minto Road Press has been reduced from 861 to 363. Every year, 57-58 employees are retiring. In the Bhubaneswar text book printing press, the staff strength is only 70.

Despite sorry state of affairs, these presses function day and night, in three shifts, with obsolete printing machinery and, surprisingly, even manage to surpass their targets. “The non-availability of paper, severe fund crunch, lack of manpower and an outdated accounting system are among several issues plague these units, which are staring at a possible shutdown,” said a senior officer of UD Ministry.  (Daily Pioneer)

Six months later, currency in circulation may not match pre-8/11 levels

As currency in circulation is about 20% lower than the levels at the beginning of November 2016, the sharp decline in the pace of remonetisation over the past few weeks and indications from government officials suggest that the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may not go for full replacement of the currency that was in circulation during the pre-demonetisation period.

According to data from the RBI, while the net addition of currency into the system in the week ended 13 January stood at Rs 52,787 crore that in the week ended April 28 slipped to Rs 14,561 crore.

The government announced the withdrawal of old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes (aggregating to Rs 15.5 lakh crore) from circulation on 8 November 2016.

While the currency in circulation was Rs 17,74,200 crore as on 4 November 2016, it dropped to Rs 8,73,416 crore as on 6 January, as individuals across the country rushed the banks to deposit the demonetised currency in their possession. As the RBI has been in the process of printing Rs 2,000 notes and new Rs 500 notes to replace the demonetised notes, the total currency in circulation rose to Rs 14,06,968 crore as on 28 April .

A look into the weekly currency data from the RBI shows that the net addition of currency in circulation turned positive for the first time (since demonetisation) in the week ended 13 January, and the value of notes in circulation rose 6.04% over the previous week (Rs 52,787 crore). However, there has been a declining trend in the pace of net addition since then. While the weekly growth of net addition of new currency between 6 January and 10 March hovered between 3 and 6%, the weekly growth over the next six weeks until 21 April stood between 2 and 3%. It came down sharply to 1.05% in the week ended 28 April and during the week, the net addition of currency was only Rs 14,561 crore.

An extrapolation of the value of currency at 1.05% weekly growth rate shows that it would take another 22 weeks to reach the value in circulation pre-demonetisation. But, given the slow pace of printing of currency and indications from government sources, it is unlikely that there will be full replacement of demonetised currency denominations. (The Indian Express)

 Indian cartographic agency gets in-house Braille, offset printing press

The in-house Braille and offset printing press of India’s cartography body. National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) was inaugurated on 4 May, an official said. According to NATMO director Tapati Banerjee, the construction of Phase IV of Rashtriya Atlas Bhavan (printing press and camera unit) is complete.

"For the first time, both the Braille and offset printing press will be housed in our campus. Having everything under one umbrella will help us function better," Banerjee said.  The printing press is housed within the NATMO campus in Salt Lake in Kolkata.

The organisation under Department of Science & Technology has designed a comprehensive Braille atlas for nearly 50 lakh blind people in the country. Earlier, the organisation's activities were spread across three different locations and were plagued with depleted staff, communication and traffic issues, officials said. (Business Standard)

India, UK, others for International Book Fair in Nigeria

The Nigeria International Book Fair opened at the University of Lagos on 8 May 2017, with foreign participation from India, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Iran, Senegal and Ghana. This was announced by the chairman of the Nigeria Book Fair Trust, the organisers of the fair, Rilwanu Abdulsalami, at a press conference held in Lagos.

According to Abdulsalami, the weeklong event would provide a platform to brainstorm solutions to the various challenges plaguing the book and knowledge industry, particularly poor reading culture, gaps in book distribution and the impact of regulatory policies.

“Suffice it to say, many hindrances across Africa that had been hampering the growth of book and knowledge industry will be extensively discussed at the conference and divergent views of participants shall be collected and made known to the government for necessary actions,” Abdulsalami said.

Also speaking with journalists at the briefing, the National President of the Nigerian Publishers Association, Gbadega Adedapo, said his association would begin the accreditation of booksellers across the country in a bid to combat piracy. He said, “We believe we need to improve the chain of distribution, to make books readily available and affordable. Consumers are often unable to have access to the books they desire, or sometimes unaware of the locations where they can be purchased. That is why we want to adjust the chain of distribution. And that is why we believe it is ideal to accredit the book sellers. If we can achieve that, then we can reduce the issue of piracy.” (The Tribune)

A scooter-riding bookseller has served Kolkata better than Amazon

If a book has been printed, and is in circulation in even the remotest part of the world, chances are, Tarun Kumar Shaw will be able to get it for you. Be it a banned title, a rare tome, the latest edition of a prestigious science journal, Tarun-da, as he is popularly known in Kolkata, knows how to sniff out that book you want from under a pile of rubbish or email trail half way around the planet. Once the prize is in his hands, he will roll out his trusted two wheeler to ride to wherever you are – at your desk, at the Golf Club, or at the airport lounge – to personally deliver it to you. Commission on every sale depends on the challenges of the Holy Grail.

For more than three decades now, Tarun Shaw has been running what is possibly the only one of its kind personal book home delivery service in Kolkata. From the secured offices of leading media houses, to the corporate offices, the impenetrable Alipore and Ballygunj bungalows to the hallowed libraries of the academic institutions, Shaw has an all-access pass. Rather, he is the all-access pass and can reach where Amazon cannot – into the proud Bengali’s very cluttered headspace.

Ever since his father, Gopal Lal Shaw, wound up his tenure at Dey and Brothers, a bookstore in what used to be the Book Range in New Market, Shaw has been personally delivering books to every client in the city. He has been a particularly familiar and welcome sight in newspaper offices, carrying cases full of books that cover everything from science, politics, fascism ( a popular obsession, he says), general knowledge and literature.

“It was to reach out to the diehard reader, and his old clients, that my father decided to start this door-to-door bookselling service,” said Shaw, 53. Calcutta was still reading voraciously at that time, and business flourished. “Our USP was our ability to procure imported newspapers and journals within days, sometimes hours,” explained Shaw about how the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, the various science and literary journals became a part of their repertoire. The Shaws were also canny businessmen and realised that siting on unsold inventory did not make sense. “We only procure on demand. Where is the space to stock books?”

An avid reader, Shaw also perfected the art of reading his client’s mind. “I have always loved talking to people about books. And once I have spent some time with anyone, I get a sense of what he or she would like to read. Next time we meet, I would suggest 10 books out of which, I guarantee you, the client will like at least one.”

As work began to expand, Shaw’s elder brother joined the team, though Shaw-junior remained the most visible face of the book business, traversing the city, carrying a dozen odd books every day. That this was a successful business model became evident when others began to try out something similar. But the Tarun-da had an upper hand, and others fell by the wayside.

Shaw’s relationship with the ABP Group, the media house that publishes The Telegraph, is special. There have been times when Aveek Sarkar, editor emeritus of the group, has called him in the dead of night to request for a rare title, or a special thesaurus, and Shaw has delivered. The employees too have developed a bond with him. Shaw sells everything from Sidney Sheldon to Andre Gide. He does not judge. The thrill, for him, has been in the chase. “I love challenges,” he said. “Even when Satanic Verses was banned, I got several copies of the book. It took time, but I did it.”

He prefers to sell only English and Bengali books because, in his words, “no one reads books in any other language here”. (

Leila Seth: breaker of glass ceiling, deliverer of justice

Justice Leila Seth, the first woman judge on the Delhi high court and a first woman chief justice of a high court, passed away on Saturday at the age of 86.

Her passing away a day after the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences of the four convicts in the Jyoti Singh rape case may be a coincidence, but it is a significant reminder of the fact that the quest for gender justice lies beyond death sentences for those guilty of horrific rapes.

For Seth was a member of the Justice JS Verma Committee, which included, apart from the two, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium. It was set up by the then UPA government at the Centre, in the aftermath of the brutal rape in Delhi in December 2012, to suggest amendments to strengthen criminal law to provide for quicker trials and enhanced punishment for criminals committing sexual assault of an extreme nature against women. The committee submitted its report on January 23, 2013, within a month of its being set up, in view of the significance and urgency of the task.

The committee, it is important to note especially after the Supreme Court verdict, rejected the proposal for chemical castration as it fails to treat the social foundations of rape. It also recommended that the death penalty not be awarded for the offence of rape as there was considerable evidence that the death penalty was not a deterrent to serious crimes. In aggravated cases, it recommended life imprisonment for rape.

Justice Seth had several distinctions to her credit. She was the first woman judge on the Delhi high court. She became the first woman to become chief justice of a state high court, when she joined the Himachal Pradesh high court on August 5, 1991. She could well have been the first woman judge of the Supreme Court as well. She was sounded about her possible elevation by the then chief justice of India, Justice R.S. Pathak in 1988, and she was very excited about it, but as fate would have it, the politics of appointments to the higher judiciary apparently resulted in her non-appointment.

Her autobiography, On Balance, (2003) is a remarkable work which invited the attention of both ordinary readers and scholars. She entered the legal profession when very few women were in it and struggled to break the glass ceiling in every way.

She was a topper at the bar examination in London in 1958 and became an IAS officer the same year. In 1959, she enrolled as an advocate in the Calcutta high court and later in the Supreme Court. She became the first woman judge of the Delhi high court in 1978.

In On Balance, she narrates the story of how she managed to balance her work and home life, and the challenges she faced. But what is an inspirational facet of her life is how, during the early years, her family struggled to make two ends meet due to the early demise of her father when she was just 12. Justice Seth began her professional life as a stenographer at the Assam Rail Link Project, but took up law forced by circumstances of motherhood (because the study of law does not require strict attendance) after her marriage to Premo, who worked in the shoe manufacturing industry. She went to London after Premo was posted at the Bata Development Office in London.

Justice Seth’s success at the 1958 London bar made the Star newspaper run a story with a caption, “Mother-in-Law”, with a picture of her holding her new-born baby.

On Balance recounts several instances of gender bias among male judges and male lawyers with whom she had to interact during her career. Her instant riposte to innuendos from her colleagues, whether at the bar or on the bench, must have made them more gender-sensitive than what they were before they came in contact with her.

Justice Seth will be remembered for her contribution to equal succession rights for Hindu daughters, when the Law Commission with her as a member recommended an amendment to the Hindu Succession Act to grant equal rights for daughters in joint family property.

As a proud mother of three children, – Vikram the writer, Shantum the peace activist and Aradhana the filmmaker – Justice Seth respected their professional and personal choices. She critiqued the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Naz Foundation case, which recriminalised homosexuality set aside the landmark Delhi high court judgment reading down section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Her respect for the right to sexual orientation stemmed not just from her personal experience of being a mother to Vikram, whose bisexual orientation she had embraced much earlier, but also because she found the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgment bereft of any reasoning. (The Wire)