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Billion Readers (BIRD), aims to ensure daily and lifelong reading practice for a billion people in India. This seemingly impossible goal is made possible by adding Same Language Subtitling (SLS) to existing entertainment content on TV and streaming, in all Indian languages – word for word viewers read what they hear. SLS was conceived for mass reading in 1996 at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA). Through guaranteed and constant reading practice a nation of weak readers can be transformed into a nation of fluent readers.

Officially, India has 250 million non-literates and one billion literates. While this represents progress, it disguises a grim reality – of the billion “literates,” 600 million are weak readers who cannot read simple texts. Due to many factors, 6 out of 10 weak readers are girls and women. While a nation’s literacy is measured as a skill, for women it is fundamentally about their dignity. Illiteracy’s assault on women’s dignity is further compounded by caste, class, geography, and special needs.

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