Running futilely from one bookstore to another, they are greeted with 'come tomorrow' responses. Textbooks, it appears, are just not available in the market. Confirming this is Chandrika Vishwanath of Sujata Enterprises, a sub-dealer of textbooks in Kammanahalli.
'Only one or two text books of each standard in primary or higher primary levels are available while most of the core subjects of high school classes are not available.' Also in short supply are CBSE books distributed by NCERT, although ICSE books are available.
Some wholesale book dealers attributed the non-availability to the Education department's instruction to publishing contractors to fulfil the free supply demand of Government schools on priority. The publishers had printed and distributed free supply copies and only after finishing this recently did they start printing the sale copies, said Yogendranath of Sri Rama Stores. 'The situation this year is 100% worse compared to previous years. About 90% of text books are not available,'he said.
Deepak, distribution representative of the Belgaum-based Omega Publishers, a unit entrusted along with 11 others to print and distribute the textbooks, had this to say:
'As per the orders received in February 2008, our firm has completed supply of 15 lakh books in seven items (subjects) for free supply category. We have started printing sale copies 15 days ago. Already two of the items (subjects) assigned to us are released to the market and the remaining five will be released within one week.' When contacted, State Text Books Society Managing Director Eshwaraiah claimed that 95 per cent of text books' requirement at Government and aided private schools had been satisfied with 3,50,15,576 free books already supplied. 'This amounts to 95% of the total demand of free supply. The publishers have almost finished printing of sale copies also and the rest of students in private unaided institutions can get books within the next 3 to 10 days.' He said that books, as and when provided by the printers was also being kept on sale at the counter set up near Bangalore Rural DDPI's office at Mysore Bank Circle in Bangalore.
He attributed the delay to an employees' strike at Tumkur Government Press from March to May 2007. The delay in calling and awarding printing contracts, and the extra work thrust on contractors to distribute the textbooks to each BEO instead of district offices were also cited as reasons for the situation.