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Annual Report of Indic Book Club (2020-21)

Annual Report of Indic Book Club (2020-21)

How do you build a “narrative”? We believe that “narrative” is something that is not in our control. It is in a constant state of flux and ever changing. It can neither be easily measured, especially in the short term, nor can we even see the cause-effect link for any intervention made to change the narrative. We therefore do not believe in changing the narrative, instead we believe in changing the narrator. All our actions at Indic Book Club are therefore centered around answering this single question “What can we do to nurture and enable the expression of an individual’s talent for writing?” 

We encourage reading; we buy and provide any book that is needed to be read. We encourage writing reviews, short stories, opinion pieces, research papers and books. We put writers through writing workshops and courses. We help edit their stories by professional editors. We then facilitate their publication either ourselves or through other publishers. We distribute give-aways to influencers and reviewers. We promote interviews, reviews and podcasts on our own platforms and on others. We organise book launches through our global network of city chapters. We encourage Curators of Litfests to feature our authors. We are there at every step of transformation of a public intellectual from a social media activist into a published and recognised author.

A few years ago, we boldly declared that we will act as agents in transforming 1000 public intellectuals by 2020. We will help them read more, write better, reach out to newer audiences and be recognized for their writing. Even though we are yet to calculate the exact number of intellectuals to whom we have made a difference, we can safely say that we are slowly but surely reaching our goal. From best selling authors to upcoming young writers in their teens, we have indeed made a difference through our interventions. 

The Annual Report for 2020-21 follows:

1000 Reviewers Club:

By far the most ambitious project we started was the 1000 Reviewers Club, in November 2020. This is an initiative to distribute FIVE-THOUSAND copies by promoting at least FIFTY authors and distributing up to a HUNDRED copies of their books to a select group of THOUSAND reviewers. These reviewers will receive up to five books (or more) over a twelve-month period. The books will be theirs to keep, and there is no charge or admission or membership fees.

We did request these reviewers to:

  • Post a photo or selfie with the book they receive on their social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc…) and tag Indic Academy and Indic Book Club.
  • Post an original review on www.indicbookclub.com, Goodreads/Amazon (200 words or longer) of the book and share it on social media.

So how has that gone? Since its launch, we have received more than 1300 sign-ups. We have dispatched more than 2200 books to a little over 1000 members. At this pace, I expect we will meet our commitment of 5000 books sometime in Q3 of 2021. We have also received more than 140 reviews so far.

Purvapakshin Review Club:

In order to encourage reviewers to read books written by authors whose viewpoint is divergent from one’s own, we launched a ‘Purvapakshin Review Club’. Members who sign up will receive books that do not necessarily confirm to their civilisational thought either in its entirety or in part thereof. It is expected that the members will read these books to understand the points made from the other side and write reviews summarising the book’s arguments and then counter them with their own. Through this initiative we are hoping to encourage rebuttals that are backed with research, rigour, and respect. We have currently 220 members. We recently sought for a review of Tracing the Path of Yoga by Stuart Ray Sarbacker. We are yet to receive a response for reviewing the book.

Research and Co-Writers Pool:

During the year we launched a research & co-writers pool for established/published authors who can engage with any of empaneled assistants and seek their help for research as well as writing the first drafts of their outlines which they can subsequently work on. If the authors so choose they can engage them as co-authors too. The cost of engaging the research and co-writing assistant is to be borne by us. Eight emerging writers responded to our call and are empaneled with us. We are yet to receive any request from an established author.

I-Shelf:

Under this scheme we gifted shelves of books on our civilisational history and indigenous knowledge systems to the libraries of  interested schools. Due to the situation arising out of Covid situation no gifts were made during the current year. 

Buy Me a Book:

Under this scheme any public intellectual can reach out to us and request us to purchase any book that is needed for research. We evaluate their request and immediately purchase and send it to them. During the year a number of requests were handled and books dispatched.

#CLUB 26:

Under this scheme, we invited avid book readers who have read one book every fortnight over the last 12 months to tweet images of the books as a thread with the hashtag #CLUB26 in return for a gift voucher of Rs 2600 to purchase more books. This campaign was successfully launched in the previous year but not continued during the current year.

Review Contests:

We periodically conduct review contests and gift master classes to the best review. No contest was held during the year. 

Book Reading Sessions:

Our Chicago chapter has pioneered this initiative and has held a few sessions during the year 2019-20. During the year they held one online session. 

Guest Curators:

We occasionally invite guest curators to share the books that have had a deep impact on shaping their personality. During the year no guest curators were invited. Previous years guest curators included Ajay Sudame, Aneesh Gokhale, Shailendra Marathe, Avatans Kumar & Saiswaroopa Iyer.

100 Mini Libraries:

During the year 2019-20 we embarked on a mission to establish 100 Mini Libraries” across various non metro cities & towns in India. Each ‘mini library’ was to be situated at the home of a volunteer librarian. To these ‘mini libraries’ we were to send a set of 100 books. The volunteer librarians were to 

  • designate a distinct space at your home to store and display the books sent by us,
  • identify a minimum of 10 more book lovers in their city/town together with their email ids and social media profiles,
  • share the books we send on their social media profile and also to the local group identified by them above, 
  • actively engage with and encourage the members of the group to reach out, borrow, read and return these books, 
  • hold periodic book reading sessions.

We did receive a few responses when we launched the program but before we could operationalise the same, the pandemic arose and we had to shelve our plans. We will surely relaunch this scheme as and when the situation returns to normal.

Research Fellowships:

We receive requests for grants from public intellectuals writing on history or social political issues that require financial assistance for carrying on their research. During the previous years we have provided such Research Fellowships to Vivek Agnihotri and Vikram Sampath. Last year we awarded a Fellowship to Advaita Kala for her forthcoming Biography on Hedgewar.

JSTOR:

We have taken an institutional subscription for JSTOR so as to provide access to our members for carrying on their research. Several members have benefited from this subscription.

Curators for Anthologies:

After the extraordinary success of Unsung Valour, curated by Saiswaroopa Iyer, and published by Bloomsbury, we invited academics and public intellectuals to conceptualise and curate further anthologies from our civilisational thought. Under this scheme, curators have to first submit to us the ideas they wish to explore. After a round of discussion and fine tuning of the idea, an announcement inviting upcoming authors to participate in a contest is made. From the entries so received, the curator selects the ten best submissions, engages with the authors to refine their ideas and writing, advises us on the appropriate intervention (we gift online writing courses and workshops to the authors) to improve their writing skills, oversee the editing of their final drafts (a professional editor is engaged by us) and submit the manuscript for publication. We were looking to hire 10 curators and publish 10 anthologies by 10 authors each. Each curator was to be paid a fee of 30,000. 

Work has begun on three more anthologies, with Avatans Kumar, Aditi Banerjee, and Shivakumar GV as the curators.

Publishing Grants through Notion Press:

During the past one year we collaborated with Notion Press and announced a scheme of publishing grants between ₹5000-₹10000 to selected authors. A total of 1074 applications were received in 4 phases and the shortlisting was done by the editorial team at NotionPress. Books across genres, i.e., Fiction, Non Fiction and Poetry and across subjects were selected. The selected authors had to place the Indic Pledge in the first few pages of their book and they would be eligible for a scholarship under this scheme. A total of 250 scholarships were offered under this scheme.

Writing Workshops and Master Classes:

We have been actively encouraging public intellectuals to develop an RRR framework towards their writing; Respectful, Rigorous and well Researched. We believe only such writing has a long-lasting impact and is read by people sans ideological biases. We conduct periodic writing workshops and retreats and also sponsor upcoming writers through writing grants for participation in programs conducted by other reputed instructors and institutions.

Writers Open House with Otis:

To nurture and help aspiring writers, we started a weekly Open House with Otis Haschemeyer where we invited writers to send in their short writing pieces for critique. In the sessions, Otis shares his feedback on the pieces as well as best practices on good writing. We have conducted twenty sessions so far.

You can watch them all on YouTube here.

Himalayan Writing Workshops:

The Himalayan Writing Retreat (HWR) is probably India’s best known learning centre when it comes to writing. During the year their well known Himalayan Writing Bootcamp was offered online. Over the course of 12 months, we sponsored the registration fees of 93 upcoming writers.

MasterClass:

MasterClass is an online-educational platform, which provides tutorials on various fields such as acting, fiction writing, music, film-making and many more. The tutorials and courses on MasterClass are all taught by experts and celebrities in their own fields. Some prominent names that have conducted online classes at MasterClass include Serena Williams, Gordon Ramsey, Jodie Foster, Garry Kasparov etc… Some of the eminent writers on the platform are Judy Blume, David Mamet, Malcom Gladwell, Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman, David Baldacci, Aaron Sorkin, James Patterson, Margaret Atwood, etc.

The instructor designs the curriculum for his MasterClass. Each class includes extensive pre-recorded video content, a class workbook, interactive assignments, and community activities. The videos are viewable at any time, and they can be paused, fast-forwarded, and re-watched as many times as possible. In addition, many students utilize the class discussions below each video to share their thoughts, upload their performances, and provide feedback on others’ work.

We have commenced gifting subscriptions to upcoming writers and have so far gifted 55 subscriptions. During last year we gave 10 subscriptions. 

Summary of Writing Workshops/Courses:

S No Particulars Organisation/Instructor Year No. of Persons
1 Writing Workshop Multiple 2016 80
2 Writing Retreats Himalayan Writing Retreat 2019 06
Online
3 Writing Course Otis Haschemeyer 2017 20
4 Masterclass Multiple 2016-2020 55
5 Open House  Otis Haschemeyer 2020 20
6 Writing Workshops Himalayan Writing Retreat 2020 93
Total 259

 

Giveaways:

Since our start in 2015, we have given away and distributed more than 12,000 books from more than 100 authors

We expanded the base of our book recipients in 2020, and sent out more than 2200 copies of the following books to the members of the 1000 Reviewers Club and Curators’ list of Influencers:

 

S.No Name of the Author Name of the Book
1.        Harsh Madhusudan and Rajeev Mantri A New Idea of India: Individual Rights in a Civilisational State
2.        Koral Dasgupta Ahalya
3.        Rajiv Malhotra Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Power: 5 Battlegrounds
4.        Shrikant Talageri Aryan Debate: “Early Indians” Tony Joseph’s Latest Assault
5.        Michel Danino Aurobindo and India’s Rebirth
6.        Swapan Dasgupta Awakening Bharat Mata
7.        Ravi Mantha Baby Elephant Diet
8.        Vikrant Pande Bajirao
9.        Ram Madhav Because India Comes First
10.    Deep Halder Blood Island
11.    Aneesh Gokhale Brahmaputra
12.    Rishi Nityapragya Celebrating Life: 6 Steps to the Complete Blossoming of Your Consciousness
13.    Prachand Praveer, Vishnu Khare Bharat Gupt Cinema Through Rasa: A Tryst with Masterpieces in the Light of Rasa Siddhānta,
14.    Chittaranjan Naik Contact Theory of Perception
15.    Aditi Banerjee Curse of Ganchari
16.    Manjula Tekal Devayani
17.    Amish & Bhavana Roy Dharma: Decoding the Epics for a Meaningful Life
18.    Bhaskar Majumdar Everything started as Nothing: How to Win the Start-up Battle
19.    Ganesh Swaminathan From The Beginning of Time
20.    Shrikant G. Talageri Genetics and the Aryan Debate
21.    DV Sridharan Good News India
22.    RVS Mani Hindu Terror
23.    Sai Papineni Hymns of Harappa
24.    Gautam Chikermane India 2030
25.    Sahana Vijaykumar Kasheer
26.    Douglas Murray Madness of Crowds
27.    Dimple Kaul Manas Patal
28.    Dr. Deepak Singla Medical Astrology
29.    Mayur Didolkar Nagin
30.    Yellamraju Srinivasa Rao and Padma Neppalli Not Two: The Essence of Non-Duality
31.    Abhinav Agarwal Predators & Prey
32.    Swamini Pramananda & Sri Dhira Chaitanya Purna Vidya
33.    Anand Ranganathan & Chitra Subramaniam Rat Eater
34.    Saiswaroopa Iyer Rukmini
35.    Vikrant Pande Sambhaji
36.    Rahul Roushan Sanghi Who Never Went to a Shakha
37.    Rajiv Malhotra and Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Sanskrit Non Translatables
38.    Maj. Gen. GD Bakshi Saraswati Civilization
39.    Vikram Sampath Savarkar
40.    Dr. K. Sadananda Self and the Supreme
41.    Vikram Sampath Splendours of Royal Mysore
42.    Satavadhani Dr.R.Ganesh Srishti
43.    Ratul Chakraborty Sutradhar
44.    Makarand Paranjape Swami Vivekananda: Hinduism and India’s Road to Modernity
45.    Amit Agarwal Swift Horses Sharp Swords: Medieval battles which shook India
46.    Dr. Deepa Duraiswamy Temple Management: with Special Reference To Kāmikāgama
47.    Bibek Debroy The Bhagavad Gita for Millennials
48.    Makarand R Paranjape The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi
49.    Jai Prakash Sharma and Shri Ram Kumar Ohri The Majority Report
50.    Raja Rao and Makarand Paranjape The Meaning of India: Essays
51.    Nithin Sridhar The Sabarimala Confusion: Menstruation Across Cultures: A Historical Perspective
52.    Douglas Murray The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam
53.    Dr.K Sadananda Transcending Science
54.    Saiswaroopa Iyer Unsung Valour
55.    Ashwin Sanghi Vault of Vishnu
56.    Chandrahas Halai Vedic Mathematics
57.    Venkatesh Parthasarathy Venkatesa Suprabhatam: The Story of India’s Most Popular Prayer
58.    Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri Who Killed Shastri
59.    Anupam Kher Your Best Day is Today

 

Author Q&A:

From 2015 onwards we did more than 40 online interactions with authors. We have rebranded this series as IBC Author Q&A and during the year we interviewed ten authors:

  1. The Sabarimala confusion Menstruation Across Cultures – Nithin Sridhar
  2. A New Idea of India: Individual Rights in a Civilisational State by Harsh Madhusudan & Rajeev Mantri
  3. Indic Book Club Author Q&A: Who Killed Sastry by Vivek Agnihotri
  4. IBC Author Q&A : Predators And Prey by Abhinav Agarwal
  5. IBC Author Q&A : The Friendless God by S Anuradha
  6. IBC Author Q&A : Sutradhar by Ratul Chakraborty
  7. IBC Author Q&A: Kasheer, by Sahana Vijayakumar, translated by Hemanth Shanthigrama
  8. IBC Author Q&A: Price to Profit, by Shailendra Marathe
  9. IBC Author Q&A: The Vault of Vishnu, by Ashwin Sanghi
  10. IBC Author Q&A: The Indic Quotient, by Kaninika Mishra
  11. IBC Author Q&A: Rahul Roushan
  12. IBC Author Q&A: Manjula Tekal

 

Book Launches:

Between 2016 and 2020, we organised more than 150 book launches in over 30 cities around the world. However, during the year due to COVID we could not organise any physical book launch. An online launch of “Unsung Valour” was organised with Prof. Vishwa Adluri as the Chief Guest.

Round Tables:

Inspired by the success of the round table organised for “The Tashkent Files” a movie by Vivek Agnihotri, we decided to hold Round Tables instead of Book Launches for certain non fiction books that warrant a deeper engagement with the author. During January and February 2020 we successfully held two Round Tables on ‘ The Indian Conservative’ by Jerry Rao at Delhi and Banglore. A select list of public intellectuals in each of these cities (to whom advance copies of the book was sent) were invited for a discussion with the author. The deliberations that followed in each of the events were very engaging. All the participants thoroughly enjoyed the discussions they had with the author. During the current year we planned a Round Table on ‘Sixteen Stormy Days’ by Tripuradaman Singh. Advance copies were sent to a select set of invitees. However the event was cancelled due to COVID. We hope to organise more such Round Tables as and when the situation permits.

Reviews and Promotions on other platforms:

We have a policy of actively promoting Indic authors to other platforms and encourage the publication of reviews, interviews and podcasts. During the year too we continued introducing authors to other platforms.

Endorsements by Established Authors:

We introduce upcoming writers to established authors with a request for an endorsement. During the year several established authors have readily given their endorsements and words of encouragement to the authors we have introduced. We are deeply grateful to them for their time and their endorsements!

Literature Festivals:

We support Literature Festivals through our event grants and encourage curation of dedicated panels for Indic authors. In the previous years we co-conceptualised and seed-funded the Pondicherry Literature Festival, sponsored panels at Words Count Festival both at Delhi and Pune and supported several other such initiatives. During the year we supported the Chennai Literature Festival.

Publications:

We have established an in-house publication label under an arrangement with Notion Press. We have so far published 19 titles of various genres. You can read more about it here (Annual Report of Publications for the Year (20-21)).

Awards:

We are yet to institute Awards to recognise authors. This is something we hope to do in the coming year, whereby notable books and authors across different genres will be recognized.

Community:

We launched a dedicated Facebook group in Q3 2020, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/indicbookclub/

We have close to 7000 members, over 3200 posts in the period. Our #ibcfridaypromo tag, where we ask authors to promote their books on Fridays (so as to not have author promotional posts clutter the group on all days), have proven very popular, with over 200 posts under this hashtag.

I would like to thank my colleagues Sai Swaroopa Iyer, Yogini Deshpande and others. Some of the work mentioned above was earlier carried out by Dimple Kaul as the Head of Center for Indic Writers. I thank her for laying a strong foundation. Finally a big thank you to Hari Vadlamani for his constant support and encouragement. 

Abhinav Agarwal 

Chief Curator 

Featured Image: We celebrate the 100 the year of Dharmpal by using his image for our Annual Report.