Translated Indian works must be more visible to Anglophone publishers: Study

05:12 PM Feb 09, 2022 | PTI |

New Delhi:  Indian literature in translation needs to be more visible to Anglophone publishers, and this also requires promoting writers and translators, and inviting publishers to India to engage with the publishing and literary ecosystem, according to a new study.


The ”India Literature and Publishing Sector Study” also stressed on the urgent need for a curated database of Indian literature available in English translation, and a showcase of such a database that could be accessed by agents, publishers and others interested in buying rights for the UK market.

The study, commissioned by British Council and conducted by Art X Company, looked into the challenges faced by Indian publishers, agents, authors, translators, and industry bodies when making literature written in Indian languages more widely available to an international English-speaking audience.

Among the other recommendations for the publishing sector are creation of a forum for exchange between Indian and international publishers; a robust and consistent data collection exercise; a website that lists Indian author and translator biographies, synopses of published work accompanied by sample content; and sales, training and skilling opportunities for literary agents and publishers in selling rights.

For the translation ecosystem, the study recommended better training opportunities, pay and representation of translators; create a translators’ guild that represents the interest of translators across Indian languages; structured training programmes; promotion of translated works of Indian literature abroad by a coordinated network of agencies engaged in cultural diplomacy among other steps.


The study brought together insights from 100 stakeholders charting the current publishing and translation ecosystem across 10 Indian cities and states of Delhi, Rajasthan, West Bengal (Kolkata), Odisha, Assam (Guwahati), Maharashtra, Kerala (Kochi), Karnataka (Bengaluru), Chennai and Hyderabad to present insights covering eight focus languages – Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Punjabi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.

The study examined the role of literary festivals and events, trends in digitisation, perceptions of Indian literature in English translation abroad, the sector’s skilling needs and gaps, as well as its intersections with the National Education Policy 2020.

The outcome of the research identified opportunities for working and collaborating more globally, specifically with the UK, in order to promote Indian literature in translation, going forward.

Jonathan Kennedy, director Arts India at British Council, said the main aim of conducting the research was to identify barriers to internationalisation faced by Indian literature and publishing professionals and support the Indian literature sector amid the Covid pandemic.

”Furthermore, some Indian languages are more represented in translation than others, hence through this report, the idea is to also help Indian literature in different and more languages reach foreign shores,” he said.

According to Rashmi Dhanwani, founder and director of Art X Company, ”India has 427 recognised languages, with 22 official languages, yet most Indian literature known globally has been written in English, with very little Indian language literature in translation making it to western markets.” The insights from the study have ”begun to trigger vital conversations among stakeholders, and our hope is to see the recommendations manifest as outcomes”, she added.


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