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Ramendra Kumar

Ramendra Kumar

Ramendra Kumar

Please tell us a bit about your room where you write and spend most of your time.

I write in my study surrounded by books of my favourite writers.
Aryan, my pet Labrador keeps me company. From my study I get a great view of the lovely garden nurtured by Madhavi, my wife. With its myriad flowers of every colour from nature’s palette, it is a perfect antidote for a writer whose sensibilities are in state of permanent entropy.

You have been prolific in writing for children. Do you feel that now publishers and readers are taking more interest in children’s literature?

Yes, the children’s literature scenario in the country is certainly improving. When I started writing there were only a handful of publishers. Now we have a brave breed of publishers like Duckbill, Pratham, Mango et al, who are willing to experiment with new genres and new media.
Another positive trend is the proliferation of festivals which provides a fantastic platform for publishers, writers and readers to interact. Here I would like to specially mention Bookaroo Festival of Children’s literature which is the first and foremost litfest of its kind. I am confident with festivals like Valley of Words coming into their own we can look forward to more fulfilling and enriching times ahead.

Your book raises a lot of questions about bullying and what children go through when they have to change schools. How do you think we can get rid of these things at the school level?

The teachers should inspire trust so that the child who is being victimised can approach them without apprehension or fear. The teachers should also identify a couple of other kids who can reach out to the beleaguered child and stand by her.
On the home front the parents should give unconditional support to the child. The first issue the victim of bullying faces is that she starts losing confidence in herself. The onus is on the parents to ensure she goes back to believing in herself.

Soccer plays a major role in ‘Against All Odds’. Are you a soccer fan?

I have always been in love with soccer though I was quite a pathetic player. I feel football is a great equalizer. It is probably among the few sports which doesn’’t need any costly equipment or logistics. All it needs is an O-shaped ball and an A-class attitude.
However, Against All Odds is not merely about soccer. It is also a tale of fun and friendship! The protagonist Kartik shouldn’’t play football because he is one-armed. His friend Siba can’t play because he has to earn a living. His classmate Tina shouldn’’t play because her mentor is differently abled. The book is about three individuals, three obstacles and one passion – Football.

Do you feel that the quickly diminishing habit of reading could make a comeback and become a part of our culture in the future?

I really do not think that the reading habit is diminishing all that fast. In many cases only the medium is changing. For instance from print many readers are moving to the digital media. Here I would like to specially mention Pratham Books’ Story Weaver which is an online platform. It has been doing an awesome job of connecting readers, authors, illustrators, and translators to create free stories for children around the world.
I would also like to add that parents have a huge role to play in developing the reading habit. They should begin reading to the child as early as possible and later encourage the child to read on his own. Once this habit is inculcated in early childhood it will stay.

How has the feedback been for the book? Any favourite response from a reader?

Sports fiction in our country is conspicuous by its absence. There are very few books which have sports as the central theme other than biographies and autobiographies of sports stars. Five of my novels are based on sports and many of my sports stories have won awards. I feel this is a genre in which I have been able to connect the best with my readers. This could be one of the reasons why Against All Odds has done rather well. The feedback on the book has been quite awesome.

My favourite response is this straight from the heart comment by an eight year old : ‘Against All Odds taught me to think high and never care about other people who laugh at my disabilities. Also, this book taught me that mostly there is always a way to figure out problems’

About the Interviewee:

Ramendra Kumar is a writer by passion with 34 books to his name. He writes satire, children’s fiction, poetry, adult fiction and non-fiction. He has won 31 awards in the competition for writers of children’s literature organised by Children’s Book Trust (CBT), over the years. This tally is the highest by any writer. Ramendra was felicitated by the writers and publishers of Sri Lanka for his significant contribution to children’s literature in December 2017.
An Engineer & an MBA, Ramendra is working as Chief of Communications in Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha.