It was a matter of a thought that set Upasana in motion to start a lifestyle magazine for visually impaired. A 64-page, India’s first English lifestyle magazine, called White Print, for the visually impaired was launched in May, 2013. Since then, this one of a kind magazine has acquired approximately 300 subscribers across the country. It is printed at the National Association for the Blind, in Mumbai and costs rupees 30 per issue.
Upasana Makati, the founder and curator of the magazine is a bachelor in New Media and has specialized in journalism. She has also completed a course on Corporate Communication from the University of Ottawa, Canada. She describes her journey of the past two years with us-
“It has been a very interesting ride. From 20 to 300 plus subscribers in a time of two years is overwhelming for someone who is solely involved with the business of the magazine. It was difficult for me to assimilate the fact that there was no particular source of reading for people who are visually challenged. The idea hit me and I went ahead with it. “
Before starting White Print, Upasana worked with a Public Relations firm in Mumbai. She gave up her job as she wasn’t satisfied with it. She wanted to do something unique, in a way that would help others. Upasana was pulling an all nighter when her vagrant thoughts halted at various magazines that are available for people to read. She couldn’t stop counting the number of magazines that were available for normal people .The bell ringing thought was that, she couldn’t come up with even a single magazine that was meant to be read by visually impaired. Upasana listened to her heart and went ahead with her idea of introducing a magazine written in Braille script (a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or who have low vision) for the visually impaired and blind people.
A 64-page, India’s first English lifestyle magazine, written in Braille script was the explanation to Upasana’s anxiety, that was, to create something unique.
She quit her job in the Public Relations and launched White Print. It was not easy to quit a job for an initiative with uncertainty, but as Erin Hanson quoted in one of her poems, “What if I Fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”, Upasana took the giant leap and now, she is a proud entrepreneur and founder of a magazine that reaches to so many visually challenged people across the country, and they have nothing but unending blessings for Upasana.
Like any other start-up, or initiative, it was not easy for Upasana to get done with all the requirements for the launch of White print. She had to face her own set of challenges and she came through all of them, like a real warrior. “It took close to eight months to get advertisers for the title. Convincing the corporate houses, firms and other advertisers required a certain amount of blood, sweat and tears.” Upasana didn’t settle. She explored all venues and her determination and effort finally found ways to fulfil her goal. “Today, companies like Coca Cola, Raymond, and Tata Groups are supporting the initiative and are attracted to find various ways and ideas that involve reaching out to as much as visually impaired people across the country, as possible. Coca Cola even came up with the concept of India’s first ever musical ad and it was devoured by the readers,” says Upasana. Adding further, she states, “Funding is the biggest challenge that White Print still faces. We do not accept charity. We do not run on donations. Currently, the magazine is primarily funded through advertising.”
Talking specifically about the magazine, White Print, Upasana shares with us that the magazine is not strictly restricted to Lifestyle content, “White Print invites submission from the readers on varied contents, for instance, stories, poems, write-ups, articles or whatever they wish to contribute. We also have a political column which is weaved by Burkha Dutt, the renowned journalist and also features short stories, written by Sudha Murthy, author of popular books like Dollar Bahu, The Old Man and His God and How I Taught My Grandmother to Read. The magazine also covers sections like travel, food, child prodigy, quizzes, music, films, arts, along with a few stories that inspire our readers. We also invite freelancers or anybody willing to contribute to our magazine.” The content of the magazine is curated by Upasana, herself.
Upasana, now aspires to circulate the magazine to every corner of the country, so that more people could read it and avail its benefit. “Presently, the magazine prints 300 copies every month that reaches out to so many people who cannot read due to visual impairment. I want to reach out to every single one of them who can derive some help from the tactual writing system. Nonetheless, I am happy with the way Whit Print has shaped up and appreciated for its unique and innovative approach,” says the proud initiator of White Print magazine.