Jan 14, 2021

UK Prime Minister Endorses SLS & other updates

Dear Friends, 

 I hope 2021 is off to a good start for all of you. 

Last year was undoubtedly tough for everyone around the world but the year ended with a fantastic endorsement for Same Language Subtitling (SLS) by UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson in their parliament. The best part is we got this endorsement on video: https://youtu.be/F5FuWIP0G88. 

Thanks to Ms. Marson MP and Mr. Warren of https://turnonthesubtitles.org/ for their question in the UK parliament. 

As you might be aware, two passionate supporters of SLS, Mr. Warren and Mr. Barrett MBE have been working closely with Dr. Kothari (Founder, PlanetRead). They started a campaign called “Turn On The Subtitles (TOTS)” with the aim of making policy makers, broadcasters and parents to turn on the subtitles for children’s programs, by default. To know more, visit: www.turnonthesubtitles.org/research/. This recognition for SLS in the UK parliament would not have happened without their support. 

In other news, we have been steadily producing AniBooks (animated stories with SLS) as part of our Oracle funded project. From April to September 2020, we produced 5 AniBooks in 2 languages, namely English and Hindi.


English: https://youtu.be/-ZIe-MzZsMs 

Hindi: https://youtu.be/wxeRMtNRrDM

Cicada's Song

English: https://youtu.be/Y2xYWTfzgVQ

Hindi: https://youtu.be/EyGL4VCj1jA

Gadbad Das in 'No water for you!'

English: https://youtu.be/XLDqwKcK1pU

Hindi: https://youtu.be/Iu7t2Hpwn6A

Let's have an inside day!

English: https://youtu.be/3QTc0bV2-4M

Hindi: https://youtu.be/HL5ZpYM9FI8

The Bee and the Elephant

English: https://youtu.be/LkMcB_dreRc

Hindi: https://youtu.be/AnX-VVzWpaE

We are now working on another set of 5 AniBooks that will be made in 3 languages: English, Hindi and Tamil. We will be completing the production of these AniBooks in the next 2 months. 

One major challenge we’re facing is in the distribution of our content via our partners to school children. Due to Covid 19, all schools have been under lock down since March 2020 till date. Hence, we have not been able to reach the children directly.

However, views for AniBooks on our YouTube channel have more than doubled in the last 6 months. April to Sep 2020, we had got 10.5 million views and for the previous 6 months period, we got 4.6 million views. 

Once the schools start, we are confident we will be back on track to reaching thousands of children very soon.

Thank you all for your support and here’s to a healthier and safer 2021.

With best wishes,



Sep 18, 2020

Streaming for reading

Dear Friends, 

Hope you are all staying safe amidst the ongoing pandemic. 

Covid-19 has exposed many fault-lines and one such is the need to ensure that, globally, children continue to pick up foundational reading literacy skills, whether they are in or out of school, in certain or uncertain times.

The current situation has locked out 1.4 billion children globally from schools (UNESCO). In India 200 million primary school children (ages 6-14) now spend even more time at home, in front of TV, mostly watching General Entertainment Content (GEC): films, serials, and cartoons. Pre-Covid, average daily viewing was 3h 46m; under lockdown it has jumped to 4h 39m.

EdTech companies and children’s publishers have started offering free educational content via the internet. Schools have been trying to figure out a way to keep the children engaged with WhatsApp groups and other video conferencing tools. But the Indian internet infrastructure has struggled to handle the load and the government authorities were forced to ask mobile operators to throttle the speed. 

PlanetRead was recently featured in “The Hindu”. In this article, we talk about how Same Language Subtitling (SLS) of visual content can enable a viewer to develop life-long reading engagement. Why should any movie have subtitles in the same language as the audio? If that sounds absurd, consider why English movies on all streaming platforms come with English subtitles. Click here to read the article now. 

We have some new AniBooks (animated stories with SLS) coming soon. I'll let you know about them in our next update. 

And finally, I have a request, as you might be aware, PlanetRead has been recognized as a top rated NGO since 2011 (over 8 years now!) and we usually request our close friends and associates to say a few words about their experience with us.  If you're a fan of our work, please take 3 minutes to write a review. It would mean a lot to us if you can help keep our top rated ranking of 4+ stars. Click here to post your review now. 

Meanwhile, take care and thank you for all the support!

Best wishes,



May 27, 2020

Stanford Social Innovation Review features SLS

Dear Friends, 

Hope you're all healthy and safe. 

I am delighted to let you know that Stanford Social Innovation Review has featured a story on Same Language Subtitling (SLS), titled "Lifelong Reading for a Billion People". 

Same language subtitling (SLS) on India’s major TV channels went from concept in 1996 to national broadcast policy in 2019. This is the story of how we did it. 

Here's an excerpt from the article: 

Spanish filmmaker Almodóvar could not have imagined that his zany film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown would have anything to do with a billion people reading in India. But in 1996, when four graduate students watched his Oscar-nominated Spanish film huddled in a small apartment in Ithaca, New York, one of them (coauthor Dr. Kothari) commented that he wished the English subtitles were actually in Spanish—not a translation, but a transliteration of the audio. That would have enabled them to follow the original dialogue better while remaining immersed in a language they were learning. Then he extended the idea in jest: If they subtitled Bollywood films in Hindi, maybe India would become literate.

“You might be onto something,” a friend chimed in. It was just the intuitive affirmation Kothari needed. Over the next couple of weeks, he conducted an extensive literature search on subtitles. He found many papers on the benefits of translation subtitles for language learning and of closed-captioning (CC) for media access among the deaf and hard of hearing. But he also encountered a baffling dearth of research on subtitles for reading skills.

The idle joke about Hindi subtitles on Hindi films began morphing into a possible research topic. The idea of subtitles in the same language as the audio went (and still goes) by monikers like “bimodal subtitling.” To focus on the need for audio and subtitles to be in the same language, for reading literacy, Kothari coined the term “Same Language Subtitling.” The same year, he transitioned to a faculty position at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), and initiated the SLS project, purely as academic research.

Twenty-three years later, on September 11, 2019, India’s union minister of information and broadcasting announced a set of Accessibility Standards that require all major TV channels—India has more than 900—to caption at least one program per week in 2019 and ramp up captioning to 50 percent of all TV programming by 2025. The language of captioning, according to the standards, “shall be the language of the content,” or what we called SLS back in 1996.

To read the entire article, please visit: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/lifelong_reading_for_a_billion_people?

Thank you for all the support, 



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