#40 PlanetRead, Brij Kothari

“700 million people can’t read a newspaper today in India.”


Brij has a Ph.D. in Education from Cornell University and a Masters in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He is on the faculty of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A). Brij is the founder of PlanetRead and BookBox, both dedicated to scalable solutions for literacy and language learning using ICTs. At IIM-A and PlanetRead, Brij and his team have innovated, researched and implemented Same Language Subtitling (SLS) on television for mass literacy. The SLS innovation is the recipient of the International Literacy Prize from the US Library of Congress and awards from the All Children Reading Grand Challenge by USAID, the Institute for Social Inventions in London, UK, Development Marketplace from the World Bank and the NASSOM Foundation. Brij has served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Education between 2012-2016. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Schwab Social Entrepreneur and was a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford University.


PlanetRead’s mission is “Literacy for a Billion”. It’s a registered non-profit which innovates, researches, implements, scales and engages policy and corporations around cost-effective and scalable solutions to support literacy. PlanetRead has implemented SLS on mainstream song-based TV programming in eight major languages, on Doordarshan, India’s state television network, and Zee, one of India’s top private networks. As a result it has delivered regular reading practice to an estimated 200 million weak-reading TV viewers and conducted impact studies on their reading skills. PlanetRead’s goal is to have SLS on all song-based TV content in India in all official languages, and over time to leverage the India scale up to promote SLS in other countries. Bill Clinton has called it “a small change that has a staggering impact on people’s lives”.


Brij Kothari

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