Friday, July 25, 2008

Same Language Subtitling for higher levels of literacy

Literacy is roughly defined as the ability to read and write for a person who is 15 years of age and above. The literacy rate of India stands at an abysmal 61% as reported by the 2001 census. Furthermore for males it is 73.4% and that for females is 47.8%. Dr. Brij Kothari has developed an ingenious method to counter this problem. He has set up PlanetRead that uses “Same Language Subtitling (SLS)” on popular film songs all over the country on TV in the same language as the audio. PlanetRead’s “karaoke” approach to literacy provides recurring and habitual reading practice to over 200 million early-literates in India. In addition, nearly 270 million illiterate people are motivated to become literate. Currently, “Same Language Subtitling (SLS)” is used only on DD shows like Chayageet and Chitrahaar. HBO, STAR Movies and Zee Studios also use them for their movies. If all TV channels in India start employing this method, we will reach our goal of 100% literacy faster. Our hindrances will only be the lack of access to television in many parts of the country and absence of electricity in many areas. Consider this, according to the article In India, the Golden Age of Television Is Now of Vikas Bajaj in the New York Times, there are roughly 105 million homes with televisions in India , up from 88 million in 2000. The current number of television households is about the same as in the United States , though for India that amounts to only about half of the country’s households, compared with 98 percent in the United States . Look at the potential effect Same Language Subtitling will have on our population. It will also prove good for young school going children who will progress faster in school. The other group that stands to benefit is people who cannot hear and those who are hard at hearing. India is a very populous country (estimated 1 billion plus population) so the number of deaf people can not be definitely estimated. It is known to be in the millions - some estimates are as high as 60 million. Same Language Subtitling helps deaf people (with an access to television) to benefit from TV programs. Although India is rapidly developing, there is still plenty of poverty, and thus a high rate of deafness. Improving rates of literacy will help reduce poverty and a whole lot of other problems. Join hands against illiteracy. Tell your friends about it. Forward this email to them as well as your favorite TV channels. Some email addresses are,,,

We have to ask our TV channels to support Dr. Brij Kothari’s initiative. For more information

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An infectiously enthusiastic incorrigible optimist, insanely in love with and morbidly curious about life, death and everything in between.