After a life of living in darkness, a visually impaired writer is making it easier for blind people to access books in Hindi. Dr Ramesh Kumar Sareen, a lecturer by profession, is all set to launch his new book under the banner of “Raktim Publications”, a publishing house that Sareen has independently started for visually impaired people.
The purpose of Raktim Publications is to publish more blind-friendly literature and make such books accessible to students in the Mangal font of Hindi language. “I have observed an acute lack of blind publishers, though there are blind people around who are willing to write. Publishing a book is a tedious task and is discouraging for blind people to get tailor-made books published,” said Sareen.
Sareen said that visually impaired people have specific needs that characterise blind-friendly books. For example, avoiding footnotes, publishing books in a font that can be read by various software that visually impaired people use without having to scan the entire book, making e-texts accessible and transliterating books on various subjects in different languages. Raktim Publications intends to include all such characteristics in its Hindi books.
Sareen, a former employee at Indian Airlines, left his 13-year-old career in the aviation industry to become a political science lecturer at Satyavati College, Delhi University, because he wanted to help eager blind people to get the education they needed. “There was no job satisfaction in aviation for me. I was earning money and was able to get married and start a family, but I was not able to contribute back to society the way I wanted to. So I decided to become a lecturer and stay close to the young crop and help visually impaired students.” Sareen has done a PhD in political science from Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Talking about his new book, Sareen said, “This is my third book, but the first one which will be published under the banner of Raktim Publications. The book is in Hindi and is blind-friendly, which means that the visually impaired will not have to scan it to read it through software. There will be e-text available.”
Sareen’s new book in Hindi is titled Sam Samayik Bharat ki Vikas Prakriya aur Samajik Andolan, which means “development process and social movements in contemporary India”. The book does an analysis of political developments that took place between 1930 and 2014 in India. The e-text of the book is in Mangal font and will be available after 31 October. It can be ordered online by dropping an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sareen said, “I have not done any analysis of political developments that took place 2014 onward because a lot has happened and we still need to observe the consequences over the years to come to a conclusion. Whether the current changes prove good for us or bad will be known in future, no point passing hasty judgements.”
An atheist by self-confession, Sareen explained why he named his publishing house “Raktim”. He said, “I have been heavily inspired by works of Dr Bhisham Sahni who has written a lot on communal subjects. Since the colour of everybody’s blood is same irrespective of which God they believe in, I chose to name it Raktim.”
Emphasising on efficient implementation of government policies for the visually impaired, Sareen said, “Things have become a lot easier now because of technology that helps us visually impaired people learn things which we could not until a few years back. The government, too, has increased facilities for people like us; however, a major policy loophole is not including partially blind people in the list of beneficiaries. Such people are not able to avail government schemes, nor are they able to study and work like other people.”
A Guinness record holder, Sareen has written the maximum words in Braille in a stipulated period of time by typing Hindi stories for 158 hours. Sareen said, “I wish to make it convenient for visually impaired people to read whatever they want to read. Raktim Publications intends to fulfil this objective for Hindi language, but we will also venture into English books.”