AIFMP, OPA urge govt to reconsider ban on printing stationery items

In a letter to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, All India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP), the apex body of more than 2.5-lakh printers in this country, has request the government to reconsider the ban on the printing of social stationery such as calendar and diaries for ministry, departments and PSUs. The department of finance on 2 September issued guidelines to ban printing of diaries, greeting cards, coffee table books, and calendars in physical form. All such items will now be issued only in digital form.

07 Sep 2020 | By PrintWeek Team

AIFMP also added that printing, stationery and allied activities is one of the largest sectors

The letter, signed by Dibyajyoti Kalita, president and K Rajendran, hon general secretary, AIFMP, argued that printing, stationery and allied sectors supports education in a variety of ways. “We are of the opinion that withdrawal of such opportunities to micro and small enterprises at this juncture when everybody is suffering from Covid-19, would worst-hit micro and small enterprises,” the letter said.

The AIFMP also argued that the expenditure these institutions incur on such items is negligible compared to their annual turnover. Moreover, these items are commonly used by every citizen and families which provide very useful information and sometimes they act as guides for working class people and for students.

The letter added, “Vide our earlier letter dated 10 August 2020, we had requested for the withdrawal of any notification of banning of printing of diaries, calendars, etc. Now, we appeal to the government of India through your good offices and urge the department of expenditure, ministry of Finance, to withdraw the above mentioned office memorandum dated 2 September, 2020 immediately, which will go a long way in safeguarding lakhs and lakhs of rural employees who are eking out their livelihood from printing, stationery and allied industry sector.”

In the letter, AIFMP also added that printing, stationery and allied activities is one of the largest sectors which employs lakhs of uneducated and less educated persons, majority of whom are from rural areas. The commercial printing sector, textbook sector and the digital printing sector employs 30-lakh people each and the balance 10-lakh by other allied sectors of the printing activity. The sum total of the employment is around one crore and serves almost 1% of the population. Assuming each employee has four dependent, it comes to four crore of people who are dependent on this industry for their living.

“You may imagine the number of units in the entire country, which is at a staggering 2.50-lakh. A large chunk of these printing units dependent on printing of diaries and calendars, etc, and 90% of these are MSMEs. For example, the printers in Sivakasi are catering to the entire need of national and international requirement for diaries,” the letter added.

OPA too takes a series note

The Offset Printers Association (OPA) too has taken a serious note on the circular issued by the joint secretary, government of India under office memorandum No. 7(2)/E.Coord/2020 dated 2 September, 2020. Prof Kamal Chopra said, “The 250,000 printers of the country are already facing the crunch of lockdown and many printers, who were not able to afford their livelihood already facing closures. The printers always look forward to New Year and many are dependent only on such work.”

Printers usually depend on educational institutions, which are not allowed to function due to pandemic. Therefore, printers were eagerly waiting for the orders of calendars and dairies which is an annual feature and another source of income for almost 85% micro and small printers in the country.

Chopra added that the instructions issued by the government are not valid because:

• As per the study published in the International Journal of Educational Research (58 (2013) 61-68), the results indicate that reading linear narrative and expository texts on computer screen leads to poorer reading comprehension than reading the same text on paper. Thus, it is clear that printed word is more effective than the digital force.

• As per the statics available, only less than 50% Indians are accustomed to the internet, for other more than 51% only printed word is final and to be believed. These 51% Indians are only dependent on wall calendars and diaries to find the date of festivals to fix their engagements. They always turn towards the wall to see the next date. If the calendars are not printed, it is going to be difficult not only for the printers but also the 990-million Indian people who are without internet.

• Printing or say, the printed word is democratic. It is accessible by anyone, anytime, anyplace without special readers or energy. 

• You cannot achieve with pixels on a screen the look and feel of ink on paper. A beautifully printed calendars/diaries says and impresses much more than the here today gone tomorrow messages on screen.

• Sometime in the case of electricity failures or hard disk crashes, all the memories will vanish in a moment, but the printed word is real and remains visible even without any energy.

Chopra has requested the government to withdraw these orders with immediate effect for the relief of small and micro entrepreneurs who are already.