Kamal Chopra appeals to withdraw centre's print ban

The industry veteran expresses concern regarding the repercussions of centre's ban on printed stationeries at government establishments in his appeal to the Ministry of Finance.

07 Sep 2020 | By Aultrin Vijay

Kamal Mohan Chopra, director at Foil Printers, former president of the All-India Federation of Master Printers  and the general secretary of Offset Printers Association, has appealed to the government to withdraw the recent ban on printed calendars, diaries, coffee table books and similar materials at government agencies.

The circular issued on 2 September 2020 by the Finance Ministry's department of expenditure stated that "there will be no further activities towards printing of wall calendars, desktop calendars, diaries, festival greeting cards, and similar materials" by all ministries, departments, autonomous bodies and other organs of the government.

The notification suggested that materials earlier printed in physical format will be done digitally from now on. It encouraged use of eBooks in place of coffee table books. It also suggested the agencies "make efforts to adopt innovative means to use digital or online methods" for such activities.

In his request to the government, Chopra stated: "The 2,50,000 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 are facing huge problems, due to this forced lockdown.

"One of their major sources of income comes from the educational institutions, which are not allowed to function due to pandemic. Depending on the government work the printers were eagerly waiting for the orders of calendars and diaries, which is an annual feature and another source of income for the 85% micro and small printers of the country."

He noted that with such orders, the hope of survival for the print industry has been dismal.

Chopra, however, backed his appeal highlighting a set of benefits of print and urged the government to reconsider the notification.

In his appeal, he highlighted: "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 the printed word is more effective than the digital force."

Secondly, "As per the statistics available only less than 50% Indians are accustomed to the Internet, for other more than 51% only printed words are 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 a difficult time not only for the printers but also the 990 million Indian people who are without Internet."

The third benefit Chopra highlighted was: "Printing or 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. The beautifully printed calendars/diaries say and impress much more than the here-today-gone-tomorrow messages on screen," it stated.

"Sometimes, in the case of electricity failure 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," it added.

Concluding his request to withdraw "this uncalled for memorandum", Chopra, on behalf of the 2,50,000 printers in India, stated, "The printing of annual products such as calendars, diaries, greetings are the necessity of the most people and I don’t think it is going to affect the exchequers of the government."