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India Provides Good Future For Books Than Other Parts Of World

Bright future of books

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India Provides Good Future For Books Than Other Parts Of World
India Provides Good Future For Books Than Other Parts Of World. Representational image, Pixabay

After an unprecedented boom in India’s publishing industry during the past two decades, many insiders are fearful that it has now reached its saturation point. But the boom is not over, according to David Davidar, who maintains that India is “one of the most exciting book markets in the world” and its future is one of hopes.

Davidar, who was hired by the legendary Peter Mayer as one of the founder members of Penguin India way back in 1985 and ventured out to lay the foundations of Aleph Book Company some seven years ago, asserted that “there is no place to go but up” for India’s books market. Why?

“Because there is quite a lot of rubbish that is published, and as many subject areas remain unexplored, there is plenty of room for good, relevant books,” Davidar told IANS in an interview.

Open book
Open book, Representational image, Pixabay

The acclaimed publisher explained that although India publishes nearly 20,000 new books in the English language every year, many of these books are “meretricious or just downright bad.”

Davidar contrasts this unfortunate state of affairs to the fact that books will always have “a central place” in the lives of the thinking and aware individuals. And even as the consumer now has access to “more published information and entertainment than at any time in human history”, much of it (especially that found in digital form on the Internet and social media) is “of little value”, he noted.

“There will, therefore, always be room for thoughtful, stylish, innovative, insightful books (in whatever format you choose to read or access them – I am platform agnostic) for those who want to go beyond the commonplace, banal and mediocre,” he pointed out.

But the Indian book market, like anywhere else in the world, has its own hurdles and Davidar identified a small readership base, not enough retail outlets, not enough marketing avenues, low prices, high discounts, high material costs, high returns, customers who do not pay on time, customers who default on payments and so on and so forth as the major challenges faced by publishers in contemporary scenario. But there is hope as this market is always expanding.

Books
Books, Representational image, Flickr

“In India, because the bar has been so low for so long (all of us in the business have to accept some of the blame for that), and there are new generations hungry for quality information and entertainment, the future is brighter than in most parts of the world, where reading habits and publishing revenues are declining. There is no place to go but up. Great books will not die, but will continue to thrive,” he said.

Davidar has been a publisher for over a quarter century and has published several of the country’s finest writers, including Shashi Tharoor, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Khushwant Singh, Ruskin Bond, R.K. Narayan, Amitav Ghosh and Jeet Thayil. He is currently the Managing Director and Publisher of Aleph Book Company, a literary publishing firm he co-founded in 2011.

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He has also authoredce three novels “The House of Blue Mangoes” (2002), which was published in 16 countries, and became a bestseller in six of them; “The Solitude of Emperors” (2007), which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; and “Ithaca” (2011). (IANS)

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This AI System Can Evade Censorship In India, China and Kazakhstan

Researchers develop an AI tool that evades censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan

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censorship
(AI)-based system automatically learns to evade censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan. Pixabay

Researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system that automatically learns to evade censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan.

The tool, called Geneva (short for Genetic Evasion), found dozens of ways to circumvent censorship by exploiting gaps in censors’ logic and finding bugs that the researchers said would have been virtually impossible for humans to find manually.

The researchers are scheduled to introduce Geneva during a peer-reviewed talk at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 26th Conference on Computer and Communications Security in London on Thursday.

“With Geneva, we are, for the first time, at a major advantage in the censorship arms race,” said Dave Levin, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Maryland in the US and senior author of the paper.

“Geneva represents the first step toward a whole new arms race in which artificial intelligence systems of censors and evaders compete with one another. Ultimately, winning this race means bringing free speech and open communication to millions of users around the world who currently don’t have them,” Levin said.\

censorship, AI
This AI system that evades censorship is called ‘Geneva’. Pixabay

To demonstrate that Geneva worked in the real world against undiscovered censorship strategies, the team ran Geneva on a computer in China with an unmodified Google Chrome browser installed.

By deploying strategies identified by Geneva, the user was able to browse free of keyword censorship.

The researchers also successfully evaded censorship in India, which blocks forbidden URLs, and Kazakhstan, which was eavesdropping on certain social media sites at the time, said a statement from the University of Maryland.

All information on the Internet is broken into data packets by the sender’s computer and reassembled by the receiving computer.

One prevalent form of Internet censorship works by monitoring the data packets sent during an Internet search.

The censor blocks requests that either contain flagged keywords (such as “Tiananmen Square” in China) or prohibited domain names (such as “Wikipedia” in many countries).

When Geneva is running on a computer that is sending out web requests through a censor, it modifies how data is broken up and sent, so that the censor does not recognise forbidden content or is unable to censor the connection.

Known as a genetic algorithm, Geneva is a biologically inspired type of AI that Levin and his team developed to work in the background as a user browses the web from a standard Internet browser.

Like biological systems, Geneva forms sets of instructions from genetic building blocks. But rather than using DNA as building blocks, Geneva uses small pieces of code.

Censorship
By deploying strategies identified by Geneva, the user is able to browse free of keyword censorship. Pixabay

Individually, the bits of code do very little, but when composed into instructions, they can perform sophisticated evasion strategies for breaking up, arranging or sending data packets.

The tool evolves its genetic code through successive attempts (or generations). With each generation, Geneva keeps the instructions that work best at evading censorship and kicks out the rest.

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Geneva mutates and cross breeds its strategies by randomly removing instructions, adding new instructions, or combining successful instructions and testing the strategy again.

Through this evolutionary process, Geneva is able to identify multiple evasion strategies very quickly, said the study. (IANS)