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Vivekananda wrote self-help...

Photo: S.S. Kumar   | Photo Credit: S_S_KUMAR

Do you see a market emerging for Indian self-help books?

India is a huge market for self-help books. I would not say that this has been the domain of Western authors in the past. In fact, some of our spiritual leaders like Swami Vivekananda have had writings that appealed to our youth.

Earlier, we took our cues from Western authors about how to deal with life and relationships. Are we now turning more towards indigenous authors?

I would say that some of the great books with mass appeal came from Western authors, such as Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and others. Some Indian authors have now entered the space and gained great respect.

About personality development books — why do you think they work, and are needed today?

Many consultants, schools and colleges keep advertising about personality development programmes and even suggest books for the same. I feel books that talk of personality development without character building are totally incomplete and misleading. A person’s composite must go beyond table manners, shaking hands, pleases, thanks and smiles, though they are all very important. Personality opens the door, but character keeps it open. Hence, we must have substance over form not just form over substance. Ability will take you up in life, but character will keep you up there.

Do you think there is a need for regional language self-help books?

Since self-help books are doing well in English and Hindi, there is no reason why they shouldn't be published in regional languages. We have a huge population in India that speaks neither Hindi nor English. Why do you think regional movies are doing so well today? There are people in India who never speak, read or understand anything but their regional language. Publishing self-help books in these languages will help these people.

What do you think is the psychology behind people, especially Indians, turning to self-help books?

People turned to them for guidance and mentorship. But today people want success overnight and the definition of success is money. But if this was true, why would multibillionaires commit suicide? Today success and winning have become important and people look for shortcuts in these books. That’s where many readers are going wrong. A book can give you knowledge but it is just the first step.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 10:26:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/vivekananda-wrote-selfhelp/article5664278.ece

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