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Bonding with books

G.S. Sethi, Director, English Edition, has risen above physical disabilities to be a lawyer and a publisher. His passion for books as a child infused a sense of positivism in him. Meet the man who sports a ceaseless smile on his face despite the raw deal meted out by life.

BURROW OF BOOKS: Enthusiasts throng English Edition exhibition at Y.M.C.A.

ABOUT 50 years ago, G.S. Sethi had an attack of polio, which rendered him almost incapacitated. Now, at 54, Sethi now looks back and says, "After all, life has been kind to me." Despite disabilities and a hopelessly raw deal meted out in the form of extreme physical deformity, the sardar sports a smile of satisfaction.

"Why not?" he says incredulously. "I can do all what you can. In fact, more." Sethi can tie a turban on his own although he cannot lift his hands beyond elbow length. "So what! I can move my head," he asserts. He drives a car notwithstanding his handicap, holds a `normal' licence, has been a hugely successful advocate all through not losing any case, and occasionally indulges in balle balle and bhangra too, whenever delighted. However, it is Sethi's business acumen and his passion for books that is his claim to fame.

An erudite scholar — he has read twice more books than the number of days he's lived. Even paaji J.S. Sethi will testify that it is because of his younger brother's passion for books that today his company, English Edition, stands out as one of the leading publishers and distributors in the country, barely in the sixth year of its existence. The book sale organised by the English Edition is one of the popular ones in the city. It is on at the Y.M.C.A., Secunderabad till August 15.

Only two companies — Allied Publishers and Jayco Publishing House — both about half-a-century old, are above the Sethis.

The director of English Edition, G.S. Sethi , has stopped practising as a senior lawyer in Mumbai High Court by choice, to do what he likes doing best: bond with his books. "Since I was a polio child, I could not indulge in sports much, nor was I greatly interested in participation. I used to borrow books and bury myself in them, while my friends indulged in a game of hockey," he recounts.

Having grown up in a family that uses books only to induce sleep, how difficult was it for Sethi to quench his voracious appetite for books? "I spent more time in the library than school," says the Sardarji, who had finished reading about 2,000 books by the time he was 15.

Lamenting that the habit of reading has suffered a decline in the last few years among adults with the television and Internet coming on scene, Sethi says, "but children are increasingly realising that while the television or the Internet cannot be powered by candle-light, the habit of reading suffers in the least, in case of power failure. Parents should help in initiating book-bonding among children."

Knowledge is permanent. And that is why Sethi still religiously reads a book a day even today. Although his preferences have changed with age, Arthur Canon Doyle continues to be one of the all-time favourites.

"We are encouraging children to begin early, because books foster positivism. The sooner they inculcate, the better," he advises. English Edition even encourages young writers to write. For instance, they recently published a book by five-year old Mumbai-based Rohan Badade — `Rohan's book of paper airplanes that really fly'. More Rohans are welcome, says Sethi. Wish there were more Sethis!


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