Imagine not being able to flip through the pages of your favourite magazine – the latest edition of Reader’s Digest or Vogue, and enjoy some of the best of what the world has to offer you. Well, that’s exactly what the visually impaired had to endure all their lives, confined only to their hearing and thinking, and live in the darkness until White Print came along and restored some light to their lives.
White Print is India’s first lifestyle magazine completely in Braille (English). It is printed at The National Association for Blind India in Mumbai. The magazine has the best of everything compiled into one book from inspiring stories of the common man to reviews of audio books, gadgets, travel and hospitality, short stories and food-related columns. It also consists of information pertaining to politics, art, and culture from around the world making it the perfect blend of informative articles and leisure reads pushing the realms of mere news reading.
The Pioneer Behind White Print
Upasana Makati is the founder and owner of White Print. Upasana was born and brought up in Mumbai. She completed her Bachelors in Mass Media specializing in Journalism from Jai Hind College. She later went on to win a scholarship from the University of Ottawa where she finished a one year course in corporate communications. She returned to Bangalore and worked in a PR agency for a year before starting Whiteprint.
It was not about being an entrepreneur. For me it was more of a thought process that came to my mind in the middle of the night.”
And what a wonderful thought it was indeed! Upasana would always start off her day with reading the newspaper and wondered where the visually impaired would get their daily dose of ‘events from around the world’ from. They certainly couldn’t rely on television or mobile phone apps like the rest of us, who tend to take the gift of sight for granted sometimes. Through her research, Upasana realized that there was not one newspaper or magazine available in the market for the visually impaired. In a society where the visually impaired are still, unfortunately, turned a blind eye to, Upasana was their ray of hope in an otherwise dark world.
The Light at The End of the Tunnel
Initially, Upasana had to overcome many legal obstacles on her own and couldn’t afford the professional services of a lawyer. The main challenge was registering her magazine under the name ‘White Print’ which took a grueling eight months, with her application being rejected twice along the way. Her magazine wasn’t going to be a charity venture because she believed that everyone was equal and should be treated with equal respect including the visually impaired, who had just as much talent and were just as capable as any other sighted individual. For her bold ways of benevolence, her magazine was in need of advertising which is why convincing the corporate big guns was a huge hurdle that Upasana had to overcome. And she did it boldly and persistently.
Upasana started off by shooting out 150 queries to which she got her one lucky response, the only person who loved her idea and was willing to promote her very first issue of White Print. And from that moment on, there was no looking back for Upasana.
A Vision to Make a Difference
Upasana’s undying efforts and daredevil dedication would result in White Print becoming a beacon to the outside world for those who could not see. Also, her strong beliefs in equality and mind over body would make her initiative, even more loved, earning her several interviews and awards. The name for her magazine is a creative representation of the braille script which is black or white dotted indentations or prints against a white background.
Along with White Print, Upasana has also successfully launched Tactabet, which is a braille-tactile text version of ABC books for children in both English and Hindi that integrate polybraille technology with fun learning techniques for the visually impaired and kids with poor vision.
Upasana didn’t believe in over-the-top launches with celebrities to roll out her magazine but did take the help of Dia Mirza to launch ‘B for Braille’, a short film on YouTube and Bollywood heartthrob Hrithik Roshan to launch Tactabet.
I think we need more and more people in the social sector. Social entrepreneurship is a very interesting sort of arena.”
Upasana believed in turning her dream into a successful venture while empowering social change at the same time. She says that it doesn’t take a lifetime to get into the social sector and start making a difference in people’s lives and urges more young entrepreneurs to come up with interesting solutions to help the society. Being successful at what you do is sweet but it’s even sweeter when you’re opening your eyes and others’ to those who cannot see for themselves.