Rajasthan Youth Association’s initiative lends textbooks to college students in need

Though many of her friends gave up studying after class XII, D. Keerthana, whose father is a fisherman, decided to study further.

A student of a private engineering college, she got the fee concession given to first-generation learners. But in the second year, there were other expenses, such as for record books, textbooks and notebooks which she could not afford.

Keerthana is one of the 2,500 students who are getting textbooks from the Rajasthan Youth Association’s (RYA) Book Bank programme. The book bank has turned 50 this year.

“If not for this, I would have scouted for the books in second-hand bookshops,” Keerthana said.

The book bank was started in 1963, by 29 college friends to benefit two colleges and 25 students. Today, it helps students who want to study, but do not have the means to do so. Kailash Dugar, founder-secretary, whose brainchild the book bank was, said when he mooted the idea, it was hard to convince people that students would return the books.

“Today, we have a 95 per cent return rate,” he said.

After paying a refundable security deposit, college students are given textbooks, which they return at the end of the semester, before collecting the next semester’s books. The books cover arts, commerce and engineering courses. Close to 67 per cent the beneficiaries are women, he said.

Naresh Khivsara, chairman, said it had helped close to 85,000 students in colleges in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Chengalpattu. S. R. Damani, founder-chairman, recalled how in those days students would borrow textbooks, copy everything down and return it because there were no photocopying machines.

On Sunday, a special postal cover to commemorate the book bank’s golden jubilee year was released by Mervin Alexander, postmaster general, Chennai city region.

R. Thandavan, vice-chancellor, University of Madras, actor Suriya, Prem Bethala, president, RYA, Naresh Khivsara, chairman of the Book Bank and Sanjay Damani, secretary, RYA were among those who participated in the programme.

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