Crusader brings the world of books to rural India’s doorstep

thumbnailby Sumaa Tekur

WHAT’S HAPPENING

  • There’s a thirst for knowledge, and for good books, in rural India. Upendra Shetty, who runs a civil service coaching centre, decided to quench this thirst by giving the villagers of Karnataka access to the written word. He started to collect books, and then created libraries in the towns of Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagara and Mandya (DNA, 2 March 2011).
  • The more books there were, the more villagers developed interest in reading them, Shetty found. So he organised ‘library walks’ in urban centres to collect books through generous donors. He has collected 3,500 books so far, and plans to involve the local village committee to maintain the libraries.
  • Shetty feels that this puts to rest the skepticism that villagers are not interested in reading. He wants to set up 100 libraries in Karnataka’s villages by 2013.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS

  • Despite the onslaught of television, rural India continues to show increasing interest in books. Besides, the penetration of the Internet has not yet been significant enough to impact the interest in traditional communication and information exchange.
  • Though the older generation may be illiterate, there is increasing awareness about the need to educate their children. They would like their children to have a career option other than farming. They realise that books are an outlet for knowledge and information.
  • Simple, individual efforts often go a long way in bringing communities together.

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