From ‘practical textbooks’ to Rapidex English course, Pustak Mahal is Delhi’s true brand

JHere are the questions megastar Amitabh Bachchan still hasn’t asked on his popular show Kaun Banega Crorepati. But if he did, he would surely get a lot of viewership.

Q1. Name a self-help guide that cricketer Kapil Dev endorsed and then it began to be known as this book?

Q2. Name the guide most commonly purchased by those showing up for UPSC interviews?

The answer to these questions is embedded in this story. But let’s start with the beginning.

In the 1930s, when education was rareMoolchand Gupta was the first teenager from his village of Kasan, near present-day Gurgaon, to complete his registration. Not having access to other studies, he decides to make his passion for books his livelihood. It was a risky bet because there were hardly any readers. Spending money on books was the last priority of the poor masses in pre-independence India.

Moolchand has opened its first store at Badshah Bulla near Chawri Bazar, meeting the existing demand for religious books like Ramayana, Gita, Soukh Sagar, panchang, Aarti Sangreh, or collection of local hymns, Mashhour Alam Jantri and Mufid Alam Jantri, or local lunar calendars of significant dates, Gorakhnath Sahityaand Puranmal Sahitya folk stories. It turned out to be a trickle down revenue stream. Most people respected holy books so much that a single copy could last a lifetime, and was even forwarded to the The next generation.

Moolchand and his two brothers were struggling around in shallow water when a brain wave hit them. Sitting at their store, they realized that almost all their customers were young unemployed while searching works. They started a new and unprecedented genre – the practical manuals of various companies.

There were hardly any skilled people in those early days of newly independent India. The three brothers met Narendra Nath, a self-taught maverick engineer based in Sonipat. He orally dictate how at fix things like bicycles, transistors, water pumps, tractors, and utility poles.

This Data was handwritten, tabulated and brought to Sita Ram Bazaar Yadav Printing Presswhere all the words were composed by hand and each page was printed on a mechanical press. Technical drawings of circuits and wiring diagrams were copied from foreign books and added than the last pages of the manual. This group was then delivered highly skilled craftsmen parked around Jama Masjid be sewn by hand and bound. That’s how hard it was to create one Single book at this time.

hungry for the opportunity to start small businesses based on skills, a swarm unemployed young people would be to input these manuals and open small businesses in their own towns and villages to provide much-needed services. Thereby, the name of the store, ‘Dehati Pustak Bhandar’, or the villagers’ bookstore, has become a memorable brand with a strong recall in northern India.

Moolchand’s eldest son, Rajendra, says: “Now people frequently remarks that Dehati Pustak Bhandar contents information it couldn’t to be found somewhere else. Even celebrities like writer-director Manoj Kumar visited the store while he was work on his film Purab Aur Pashim.”

Meanwhile, eccentric, self-taught engineer Nath eventually wrote 75 textbooks on various skills and all of his educational books became overnight successes. so farthe Gupta brothers lived in the Congested area of ​​Badshah Allah near Sheesh Mahal, which housed many Kashmiri migrants, including Kamathe Nehru’s family. With each new hit title, the family’s aspirations grew and they moved to a large bungalow at Roop Nagar in Delhi.

Growth prosperity and the rising ambitions of the The next generation caused a drift among the founders. Dhoomimal, the younger brotherinherited the now iconic Dehati Pustak Bhandar, and Moolchand had to beginning from zero.

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The new turn

moolchand spear a new company from Daryaganj called ‘Pustak Mahal’, and against the tips many, included an owl in the logo as a symbol of wisdom. Return at below, Moolchand’s two sons, Rajendra and the youngest, Ramavtar, sat nonchalantly in the new boutique, which seen little not. There was a lot of mirth and ridicule towards ‘Ullu wala mahal‘ – the palace with an owl on it.

Wayward for success, Ramavtar began writing a new manual that has been aiming to teaching people how to speak English. Rajendra had just graduated from Delhi University and was keen to give this book a new identity. Instead of family famous small size ‘kunji’ (cliff notes)he opts for a large-format glossy format. In the absence of expensive models, it photography his family members to portray a typical middle class indian family and put them on the cover page.

Family members of Pustak Mahal founder Moolchand Gupta had posed for the cover page of the Rapidex English course

Instead of a Hindi title, it Came for an English name – Quick English lessons with reading subtitles Farratedar Bolo English (to speak English fluently).

There was a pitched battle within Pustak Mahal over all these landmark changes. A super expensive full-page ad in Dharamyug, the best-selling Hindi weekly of the time, was released. The team of workers, collaborators and owners of Pustak Mahal began to look forward to the market. But there was complete silence and no response. All the effort and expense started to look like a big mistake.

A fortnight later, the Gupta family received a call from the local post office asking them to collect their mail. They were stunned to find a huge bag full of letters containing thousands of book orders. It was a jackpot! Quick English lessons became a smash hit with millions of copies sold. A “sticky mark” was born.

Ramavtar said: “Even without official marketing or publicity, such was the fanbase that when this book was Point on the coffee table of President Giani Zail Singh, news articles noticed its rustic simplicity, which like him to the common man.

For four decades, this book has has been a bestseller and published in many Indian and international languages ​​- a clear indication that the owl in the logo grabbed the book and took it on a long flight.

This article is part of a series exploring iconic, family-owned small businesses in India that have weathered tough times and changing markets.

(Edited by Tarannum Khan)