Rajpal and Sons was founded in 1912 in Lahore (now in Pakistan) by Shri Rajpal Malhotra, a journalist-turned-publisher. His first publication, Wisdom of the Vedas (1920) was recommended by the University of Oxford as the definitive text on Indian philosophy, and became the first book published in India to be prescribed as a textbook in the University of Oxford.
An ardent champion of the freedom of expression, Rajpal won a bitterly fought legal battle in 1928 in the Punjab High Court in defence of an author's right to express his opinion. The case polarized public opinion, and some disgruntled elements unhappy with the Court verdict made several attempts on his life. The third attempt on April 6, 1929 proved fatal when Rajpal was stabbed to death while working in his office in Lahore. In the short span of 17 years that Rajpal was a publisher, he established new benchmarks in Indian publishing and laid the foundations of a vibrant publishing tradition. In 1997, Rajpal was posthumously bestowed the first Freedom to Publish Award by the Federation of Indian Publishers. In 2010, the International Publishers' Association bestowed on him the Dare to Publish Award and paid tribute to the timeless and exemplary integrity, determination, and courage that he embodied in upholding the fundamental human right of Freedom of Expression.
In 1947, the publishing house was shifted to New Delhi and blazed new trails under the dynamic leadership of Vishwanath, the eldest son of Late Shri Rajpal. Works of literary giants such as Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Agyeya , Mahadevi Verma, Amritlal Nagar, Acharya Chatursen, Vishnu Prabhakar, Mohan Rakesh and Kamleshwar were published under the Rajpal brand. Hindi translations of world literary classics and award winning books from Indian regional languages were launched, and by the 1960s Rajpal and Sons was being hailed as the vanguard of Hindi publishing in India. Vishwanath became the most recognized face of Indian publishing and was invited to the United States of America, China, erstwhile USSR and France as their state guest. He was the President of the Federation of Indian Publishers for a period of 10 years and led several official delegations to other countries.
"Our touchstone for publishing a book is that it should stand the test of time and continue to live beyond its author. It is a matter of great satisfaction that as many as thirty of our books, some of which were published five to six decades ago, are still in print”, says Meera Johri, granddaughter of Late Shri Rajpal and daughter of Late Shri Vishwanath, and currently heading the publishing house. Madhushala by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, which is considered to be a milestone in Indian poetry, has been in print for the last 77 years and continues to be amongst the best selling books in India even today. Kitne Pakistan by Kamleshwar, published in 1997, was voted one of the Top 100 Indian books of the 20th century in a poll conducted by a national newspaper of India in 2001, and has been translated into 8 Indian languages and several foreign languages.
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Rajpal and Sons is the exclusive publisher of Nobel laureate Prof. Amartya Sen, having published 8 of his works in Hindi including his global bestseller The Argumentative Indian. Amongst contemporary authors, the publishing house has exclusively published the Hindi editions of all the books of R.K. Narayan, Ruskin Bond, Mulk Raj Anand, Khushwant Singh, Jaswant Singh, Devdutt Pattanaik and J. Krishnamurti – all internationally acclaimed authors.
“It is our privilege that we have been the publisher of books by Presidents and Prime Ministers such as Narendra Modi, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Narsimaha Rao, I.K. Gujral, Benazir Bhutto and spiritual guru The Dalai Lama. We have published eleven books of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India,” says Meera Johri.
Dr. Kalam’s book Indomitable Spirit has been one of the top-selling books of the last decade, and has been translated into 8 Indian languages and 4 foreign languages. Two of his other books, Spirit of India and Inspiring Thoughts have also been translated into several languages, and have been amongst the top-selling non-fiction books in India in the last 5 years. His latest book, launched in October 2014, titled Forge Your Future, is a digital media success story as the title of the book was selected by the readers through online voting, and the book sold over 10,000 copies even before its launch.
Since 2012, Rajpal and Sons has established its global presence by setting up sales operations in the USA and the United Kingdom in partnership with local sellers. Says Pranav Johri, son of Meera Johri and grandson of Late Shri Vishwanath, and head of overseas operations of the publishing house, “We are one of the fastest growing exporters of books from India. We offer our unique end-to-end export model in 8 languages, namely English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam. Having a presence in these countries enables us to effectively market and sell to institutional customers, i.e. public libraries and Universities, as well as retail customers like Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Abebooks.com. Our consumers include the large Indian diaspora settled in countries like the USA, Canada, England and Australia, as well as locals of those countries who are showing an increasing interest in the writings of Indian authors like Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Narendra Modi, Dr. Amartaya Sen, and others.”