Remembering India’s Asoke Ghosh: ‘Friend, Mentor, and Guide’

In News by Porter Anderson

Called by some ‘the father of Indian publishing,’ publisher Asoke Ghosh was active in the International Publishers Association’s work.

Federation of Indian Publishers founder Asoke Ghosh speaks in 2022 at the IPA International Publishers Conference in Jakarta. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘The Entire World Is Our Family’
Osne of India’s longtime publishing leaders, Asoke Ghosh, died on Thursday (February 1). The president emeritus of the Federation of Indian Publishers, Ghosh was also a long-serving member of the International Publishers Association‘s (IPA) leadership. He was 81.

In a moving note from the federation’s Pranav Gupta, we read, in part, “The ‘father of Indian publishing,’ my best friend, mentor, and guide in my professional journey, respected Shri Asoke Ghosh ji, left us in a sudden shock and most profound loss.

Pranav Gupta

“I cannot imagine not calling or meeting you ever now. Sitting far from India, I feel so unfortunate not to stand behind in your last journey, your last rites.

“May your soul rest in peace, Ghosh Ji. May your soul find the amount of happiness you have always spread to people irrespective of age, relation, and any barrier.”

The IPA’s International Publishers Congress in Jakarta in 2022 was the last chance many from the wider industry will have had to be with Ghosh, although some of us were also at the 2018 IPA Congress in New Delhi, an event he helped to make possible and organize.

He was engaged in last year’s programming honoring the 50th anniversary of the Federation of Indian Publishers. He’s pictured in coverage by Siya Chopra at The Statesman from an August event in the organization’s golden jubilee and spoke then about the original need for publishers to have the kind of representation that the federation has provided now for more than half a century.

The late Asoke Ghosh, the chair and managing director of PHI Learning Private Limited, was a founding member of the Indian Reprographic Rights Organization; a founding member of the Federation of Indian Publishers; a recipient of London Book Fair’s and the Publishers Association’s Simon Master Chairman’s Award; and a recipient of the federation’s Lifetime Achievement and Most Distinguished Publishers awards.

Setzer: ‘Decisively Contributed to Build the Association’

Hugo Setzer, the former IPA president—now president of the Mexican Publishers Association, the Cámara Nacional de la Industria Editorial Mexicana (CANIEM), which is working with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to produce December’s upcoming International Publishers Congress in Guadalajara—has written a tribute to Ghosh at the IPA site.

Hugo Setzer

Setzer has become a de-facto historian of the IPA today, having published last year The Fifth Quarter Century: The International Publishers Association, 1996-2021 and emerged as one of the organization’s most astute observers of its modern-era activity.

In his commentary, Setzer recounts Ghosh’s work with the IPA, noting that he first participated in 1974, “and became a member of its executive committee in 1983 and until 1990. He was later elected again to the executive committee in 1999 and served as IPA vice-president from 2000 to 2004. In 2004, he stood for the position of IPA president. Though he didn’t win the election, he continued to support the IPA and to uphold copyright and the freedom to publish in different forums. Some years later he served again on the executive committee, from 2011 to 2017.

“Asoke,” Setzer writes, “was responsible for bringing the IPA congress to New Delhi not once, but twice: In 1992 and then again in 2018. He chaired and addressed numerous sessions of the IPA congresses and served as speaker in IPA symposia on copyright and related topics.”

Setzer also has some thoughts from Ghosh, contributed by the late publisher for the preparation of the IPA’s 125th-anniversary book.

A part of this quote brought forward now by Setzer has Ghosh writing, “I felt that IPA was closely aligned with India’s ancient philosophy of the ‘World being One Family’—Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (a phrase from the Maha Upanishad and Rig Veda)—where I saw the world’s publishers sitting together in one forum conveying the sacred message: ‘The entire world is our family.’ I still strongly believe in it.”

At the Jakarta IPA International Publishers Congress, Setzer made Ghosh the recipient of the first IPA Champion Award, an honor devised for people who, during their careers, as Setzer writes, have “gone above and beyond the norm, to help the IPA achieve our goals on behalf of the publishing industry.”

Setzer reflects in his thoughts on Ghosh’s death, the apt choice of this senior officer of the organization and of the industry in India as the first IPA Champion named.

“Asoke Ghosh worked tirelessly for many years,” Setzer writers, “in promoting and defending IPA’s values, and has decisively contributed to build the association we have today.’

India’s Asoke Ghosh receives the International Publishers Association’s Champion citation from IPA’s then-president Hugo Setzer at the International Publishers Congress in Jakarta, 2022. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

More from Publishing Perspectives on the International Publishers Association is here, more from us on the IPA’s international publishers congress is here, more on the Indian book and publishing market is here, and on obituaries in the publishing industry is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the global media partner of the International Publishers Association.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.