News | New Delhi, 09/17/2018

Literacy Day in India: Books And Other Good Deeds

Bertelsmann's divisions in India took International Literacy Day as an opportunity to promote reading, writing, and creativity with various initiatives. Some activities took place within the company, others in collaboration with community institutions. India has a high illiteracy rate.

Of all the illiterate people in the world, 35 percent live in India. This finding from a UNESCO report at the end of 2017 illustrates the important role of promoting reading and literacy in this country, whose population exceeds one billion. Accordingly, Bertelsmann companies in India took International Literacy Day as an opportunity to spread enthusiasm for reading, writing, and other creative skills both within the companies and in the greater community. All Bertelsmann companies with operations in the country took part – the Corporate Center in New Delhi, Bertelsmann India Investments, Arvato India, Penguin Random House India, DK India, Fremantle India, and Yoboho New Media India.

Bertelsmann employees in India have significantly stepped up their level of activity compared to year: Instead of two initiatives, this year they initiated a total of 14 projects spread over two days. “Through Bertelsmann India's CR Circle, we wanted to highlight the joy of reading and promote a long-term willingness  to learn and develop among employees across all divisions. The goal of the community actions was to support non-profit organizations in their efforts to improve literacy and education, and to enable visually impaired  children to be able to read and learn” explained Aditi Kumar at Penguin Random house India.

Two Initiatives Across All Companies

Two of the initiatives took place across all the companies. Under the heading “Recommendations from the CEO,” each divisional CEO gave two personal book recommendations. The Bertelsmann India Corporate Center sent the complete list to all 2,000 employees in the country, who were then also asked to name the book that inspired them most last year. These recommendations were submitted by email, and a prize drawing was held among all participants.

Penguin Random House India launched a short story competition to encourage in-house writing talent. Furthermore, a “Sharing Stories” campaign was held, with employees swapping books they had already read with each other to discover new stories. The film “Raazi,” based on the book “Calling Sehmat” by Harinder Sikka published by Penguin Random House India, was screened at the publishing group’s New Delhi offices. The publishing group also donated a Braille edition of the book “Ignited Minds” by APJ Abdul Kalam to visually impaired children.

Activities For Children With Cancer

Employees from DK India visited young cancer patients at a children's hospital in New Delhi, to paint and draw with the children and read to them. Before leaving, they gave them a gift of books in Hindi. Yoboho Media is currently involved in the Nanhi Kali foundation, which supports education for girls. To mark International Literacy Day, several employees who are well versed in animation and illustration volunteered to give the foundation’s students extra art tuition. Fremantle India also supported Nanhi Kali with a donation and informed employees about its activities.

Arvato India set up a stand with books by Penguin Random House in the cafeteria of the New Delhi office to encourage employees to read. The New Delhi and Mumbai sites also donated office and writing materials to the Love Care Foundation and Aarambh aid organizations, which they handed over during personal visits to the organizations. Employees from Arvato's Bangalore site visited a local elementary school to explain to the 100 pupils why going to school every day is important. They asked the children general knowledge questions and invited them to recite poems or demonstrate other talents. In addition, they made donations to the school to improve the equipment and teaching conditions. The teachers and pupils were delighted to receive seat cushions, new blackboards, stationery, exercise books, and water bottles, among other things. There was also chocolate – to further “sweeten” the experience of reading for the children.