Monday, July 15, 2024

In Conversation with Pramod Kalita- Secretary, Assam Publication Board

Robin Bhuyan (Editor)

Naba Kumar Sharma (Staff Reporter)

Enigmatic Horizon recently had a conversation with the Secretary of Assam Publication Board – Pramod Kalita, a person who has played a very crucial role in saving the organization from a big financial loss. Let us take a look at the conversation to know more about the person as well as his contributions and his views.

EH: When did you join Assam Publication Board as the Secretary? What kind of initiatives had you taken in order to take this organization to a new level?

PK: I had joined Assam Publication Board in October 2016, as the Secretary of the organization. During that time, it was in a very pathetic state. The economic condition was very poor. The organization was in debt of around 2.5 crores. In addition, the employees working for the board were frustrated due to not receiving their salaries for three months. Taking the responsibility of the board during such a time was indeed a challenge. I focused on book selling in order to bring the organization to a better financial condition. This helped me reduce some of the financial problems of the organization. Dr Himanta Biswa Sharma, who was education minister at the time, provided us a grant in order to improve the condition of the board. Previously, high school graduates scoring First Division were provided the Ananda Baruah Prize which consisted of a laptop computer. However, due to our proposal, a dictionary was also included with the Prize. This helped our Board increase our earnings even further. Due to our success, the government also decided to increase the grants that are provided to Board. Over the years, we made huge progress, and today all the debts have been cleared. In addition, we are receiving profit that is worth in crores.

EH: Assam Publication Board is an important institution of the Assam Government. Could you elaborate on how this organization is carrying its works in the past few years?

PK: Promoting book reading is one of our main goals, along with publishing them. Between March 2022 to March 2023, we have published over 90 books. Out of them 39 are new, and the others are reprints.

EH: As you said, the condition of Assam Publication Board was really terrible a time. In your opinion, what could be the reason behind this?

PK: Lack of proper direction and lack of proper management is one of the main reasons behind this. The co-operation of the board members also plays a very crucial role.

EH:  Can you name some of the valuable books that Assam Publication Board has published?

PK: Several important books have been published by the board in the past few years. The very first book that was published was Mahabharata by C. Rajgopalachari. Some of the other works include Hasti Vidyanarv, Geet Govinda, Illiyad- Odyssey, etc In addition, we have also published several essay complications written by several renowned people of the state. Plus, we have also published several magazines such as Arunodoy, Abahan, Baahi, Ramdhenu, etc.

EH:  Can you name us some of the books or journals that the Board is planning to publish in the future?

PK: This time, the Board is focusing on Child literature. We have also taken several translation projects. In addition, we are also preparing a digital voice dictionary, which we are planning to release within some time.

EH: What is the main problem that the publication board is facing?

PK: We have decided to capitalize on our problems, rather than trying to run away from them. However, there is a lack of skilled employees, which is why we are trying to get someone appointed from the Education Department.

EH: The Book Fair is one of the most important initiatives of the Board. What would you like to say about this?

PK: Earlier two book fairs were held in Guwahati, i.e. The North East Book Fair and the Guwahati Book Fair. However, since 2021, the two book fairs were combined into a single one. Since 2022, we have been holding book fairs in several other areas of the state, and it has been quite a success. As a result, we can say that it has led to a “Book Reading Movement” in Assam.

EH: With the rise of digital media, do you think people will continue to read books in the future?

PK: Initially people were worried about the rise of digital media. People felt that this would lead to the eradication of print media. However, over time, people started realizing that this is not going to happen. People realized that those who prefer print media will always stick to it. All publication houses are continuing to publish more and more books over the years, which shows that there is no lack of readers anywhere. Therefore, we feel that book reading is not going to decline anytime soon, and I don’t feel that this is going to a challenge.  

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