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In 1998, Ray McLennan, who till then had been importing into the UK “all sorts of things” from India like musical instruments, saris, tilak, Tulsi malas, and agarbatti, purchased Motilal Books, a small Oxford-based distributor focusing on academic bookshops and university libraries. In 2014, he set up his own company, Rays Books of India Pvt Ltd, to broaden his accessibility. Between them, the two companies recorded a turnover of 1.7 million pounds in 2020, in spite of the Coronavirus pandemic, riding largely on online sales.
“I needed a new challenge, and having found it hard to get books from India, and the constant issues with payment, quality, reliability, and general information on what is in print, decided to improve all the logistics, providing a much-needed service for all Indian publishers, from the biggest to the No.1 authors,” McLennan, who is originally from New Zealand, told IANS in an interview from his base in St. Albans in Hertfordshire, north of London.
“My gifts from India to the world are printed books across the full spectrum of subjects, many unique to India and others international, but produced more cheaply in India than elsewhere. Religious and spiritual development titles are the most popular category of Indian publishing worldwide. But all academic subjects, fiction, wildlife and tourism, and of course cookery, are always selling,” he added.
And how – 16,000 books were sold per month in 2020 and made for 9,000-plus titles sold during the year. “We have had an increase in turnover (in spite of the pandemic), but due to increased freight costs, a lower margin. Our greater sales are because online selling is king. Bookshops have been closed much of 2020,” McLennan said. His Indian associate, KPR Nair of Konark Publishers, was quite astounded when he visited McLennan in St Albans in 2019.
“I could not believe my eyes when I saw the kind of stock of books held by him of Indian authors, from Chetan Bhagat to Shobha De to Ramachandra Guha to Shashi Tharoor. I was floored by his in-depth knowledge of our products and equally by his passion for Indian culture and our way of life, etc. What was to be a brief meeting thus ended up in a four-hour-long passionate talk about books, history and culture, and untold stories about Indian authors and our publishing industry. “To sum it up, both of us did not get time even for the minimum civilities of a cup of coffee. We did not simply realize it; we were so caught up in our talk. We smelled, sipped, drank, but it was all books and books,” Nair told IANS.
Only in India, McLeenan said, “is the English publishing scene full of titles on an endless range of subjects, authors and publishers. As the world’s largest distributor of this material outside of India, we work with the worldwide book trade to list between 700-1,000 new titles a month, adding to a range of over 100,000 such titles available today. We have over 9,500 Indian published titles in stock with Amazon.co.uk, and 13,400 units in stock with Amazon.com in the USA”.
“We have titles available from more than 750 Indian publishers we exclusively represent into the UK and the worldwide book trade, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins India, Westland, Konark, Orient Blackswan, TERI, Juggernaut, Kitab Mahal, and Jaico. “We exhibit internationally every year at the London Book Fair (the 2020 edition was canceled and the 2021 event will be held digitally) where we meet with publishers and customers. We attend the Delhi World Book Fair every year in February (the 2021 edition was virtual), which presents us an opportunity to meet contracted publishers and new publishers, see new titles, and plan future business with them all to maximize sales outside of India,” McLennan said.
He visited India originally in 1975, has since visited the country every year, and since 2004, multiple times a year. The establishment of Rays Books of India Pvt Ltd improved the procurement percentage of all books he had a demand for and that dramatically improved sales. “We went from supplying only 55 percent of titles ordered by me to 85- 90 percent, and that, in turn, told the UK market that greater availability was now possible, which again increased orders,” McLennan said.
“We are pushing new developments all the time. Adding new titles to our selection is a priority. We are currently adding over 500 new titles to the world’s book trade records, every month, every year,” he pointed out. “We want to sell as many of each title as possible, and as a specialized wholesale distributor of Indian publishing, we estimate that around 75-80 percent of all Indian publishing sold in the UK is sold by Motilal (UK) Books of India,” he added.
Over time he built up the inventory of titles held in stock in the UK, “and that again increased the speed of supply to all types of trade customers, such as book chains, independents, libraries, schools, and specialist niche markets. “From 2006 we have been the only major supplier of all Indian publishing worldwide, and although we have had financial collapses, terrorism, changes of governments, ebooks, Brexit, and now Covid, our sales have continued to increase as we create more awareness of what has been published, its price and where to get it.
“Yes, Covid is giving us problems, but we will continue to supply-demand which is mainly coming from the USA and the UK as can only be expected as the two biggest centers of English language publishing and selling,” McLennan concluded. (IANS/JC)
A new monograph by the Observer Research Foundation, in collaboration with the Esya Centre, presents a deep-dive into the growth of cryptocurrency in India and proposes a balanced regulatory approach. According to the study, it would be unwise for India to place bans on private crypto assets, when it has the ability to capitalise on the opportunity offered by cryptocurrency.
The report offers key policy suggestions on building the ideal crypto regulatory framework that would both benefit India's economy and ensure consumer welfare. The Indian crypto asset industry has witnessed exponential growth over the last five years. Analysts suggest that more than 15 million Indians now hold digital currencies. As a result, cryptocurrencies, like any other financial asset, need to be regulated in order to ensure consumer welfare as well as promote innovation. This is the key finding of Regulating Crypto Assets in India, a report that has been jointly published by the Observer Research Foundation and Esya Centre, two New Delhi-based public policy think tanks.
The report offers key policy suggestions on building the ideal crypto regulatory framework that would both benefit India's economy. | Flickr
The report is a first-of-its-kind deep-dive into the world of cryptocurrency in India – one of the fastest growing consumer-bases globally. This analysis comes at a time when New Delhi aims to introduce a bill to regulate the asset. The report argues that India is well placed to capitalise on the opportunity that crypto assets present due to its expanding private crypto market. Hence, it would be imprudent to place a blanket ban on private crypto assets. This would result in significant revenue loss to the government and may encourage nascent industries to operate illegally.
Instead, the report suggests a balanced regulatory approach, which addresses the concerns of fiscal stability, money laundering, investor protection and regulatory certainty while fostering innovation. "Most regulatory formulae necessary to address the policy concerns related to crypto-assets, such as investor protection, foreign exchange management, money-laundering and tax evasion, already exist in financial legislation," says Meghna Bal. "They just have to be adapted to accommodate an emerging technological paradigm. The recommendations in our report show how this can be done."
The report also lays out suggestions for lawmakers on what a crypto regulatory framework must include. | Pixabay
In India, classifying crypto as a security, good, or capital asset could lead to unintended restrictions on investment or leave regulatory gaps in key policy areas. A sui generis crypto framework that adopts the nuances of the crypto industry would be more appropriate and in keeping with emerging global trends. The report also lays out suggestions for lawmakers on what a crypto regulatory framework must include: it must be technology neutral, innovation friendly and consistent, to fully harness India's potential in this domain. Among other things, the framework must lay down clear definitions, identify the relevant regulatory bodies and create KYC/anti-money laundering obligations, the report says. The regulatory framework should also protect crypto asset service providers from being liable for the actions of investors on their platform. This will help asset service providers innovate and scale new crypto-based products and offerings.
The report proposes that the government adopt a co-regulatory approach where industry associations and authorities such as SEBI, the RBI, and the Ministry of Finance share the responsibility of oversight. Such an approach follows the Japanese model, where authorities have tasked industry associations to enforce regulations. Providing incentives to industry whistle-blowers could help players within the crypto-market self-regulate. What India needs is a facilitative regulatory framework that would boost the growth of India's crypto ecosystem while addressing any possible harms to consumers and society at large. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: Consumer Welfare, India's Economy, Private Crypto Assets, Ban, India, Cryptocurrency, Esya Centre, Crypto Ban)
Singer Rihanna was honoured by Prime Minister Mia Mottley at an event which marked Barbados's new status as a republic, which was attended by Prince Charles. Addressing the pop star by her real name, the PM said: "Robyn Rihanna Fenty tomorrow morning shall have conferred upon her the order of national hero of Barbados."
Rihanna was then summoned from her seat to accept the honor, with the Prime Minister managing to rouse a laugh from the singer when she referenced her 2012 hit 'Diamonds', reports femalefirst.co.uk. She added: "On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you, the designee, for the national hero of Barbados." "And to accept on behalf of a grateful nation - you can come my dear - ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty, may you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation." Rihanna, who was born in the St Michael parish of Barbados, found fame in 2005 after being spotted by a record producer and has since gone on to become one of the most successful female artists of all time with sales of over 250 million and recently reached billionaire status through her Fenty beauty brand.
The Prime Minister continued in her speech: "Commanding the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence, her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth. "Having satisfied that, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty has given service to Barbados which has been exemplified by visionary and pioneering leadership, extraordinary achievement and the attaining of the highest excellence to the Government of Barbados." It comes after a historic move for Barbados, which has become a republic after almost 400 years and welcomes its first president, Sandra Mason, after removing Queen Elizabeth as head of state. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: National hero of Barbados, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Prince Charles, Barbado, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister, Rihanna)
By Manav Bhatia
It's that time of the year when there are festivities galore and entertaining comes to the fore. Manav Bhatia, Founder Trunkin shares some tablescapes for the season
Christmas Tablescapes: Whether it's cherry red tablecloths or plush green napkin rings, there's something for everyone. Red and green are synonymous with colour themes this time of year.
Red and green are synonymous with colour themes this time of year. | Photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash
Finish it off with Royalty: Jewelled napkin rings are an essential table accessory. Jewelled beads in the centre of a napkin ring surrounded by metal carving can be combined in a variety of forms and sizes and gives a touch of glamour.
Jewelled napkin rings are an essential table accessory. | Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
Touch of Smoke: Winter is the season when evening decor is especially important for parties, get-togethers, and bonfires. Colours in grey and ivory combine night with the day. Embroidered tablecloths, paired with lit glass votives, adds refinement to the evening.
Embroidered tablecloths, paired with lit glass votives, adds refinement to the evening. | Pxhere
Smearing of Wood: Nature's finish using ferns and drift wood for decor instead of flowers add to the winter feels.
Wall Hangings: Embroidered and beaded hangings add a touch of elegance and are traditional accessories for Christmas. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: Wall Hangings, Wood, Winter, Smoke, Royalty, Christmas, Festivities, Perfect Setting)