Several children across India are stuck at home, thanks to schools closing early over the coronavirus pandemic. There is an air of uncertainty over when school will start again, and many families have also put their vacation plans on hold. Given the circumstances, ACK Media, which owns Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle comics, has decided to bring some cheer to the children.
The entire digital collection of the comics is now available for free for a period of 30 days on the ACK Comics and Tinkle mobile apps, to help children cope with the gloomy situation.
Speaking to TNM, Preeti Vyas, President and Chief Operating Officer of Amar Chitra Katha, says, "It's a gift from us to the children of India who are cooped up at home – the little we can do to help ease this challenging environment we suddenly find ourselves in."
Founded in 1967 by Anant Pai, Amar Chitra Katha is a household name in India and is well-known for its historical and mythological comics that have sold millions of copies. Though the brand has occasionally drawn criticism for promoting certain stereotypes, it has continued to remain popular over the decades and is considered to be a pioneer in the field of children's literature in India. The first issue of Tinkle came out in 1980 and Anant Pai was its founding editor. Many parents may still recall popular Tinkle characters like Shikari Shambu, Tantri the Mantri, Kalia the Crow and of course, Suppandi!
With social distancing being advocated as the effective way to combat the spread of coronavirus, most children are forced to stay indoors and may not be able to interact much with others their age.
Preeti says that they have received a great response to their initiative from readers so far.
"The response has been way beyond our expectations – we have achieved 100 times more downloads in two days than we receive in a normal month," she says.
ACK's Art Director Savio Mascarenhas says, "The ACK app has about 350 titles and the Tinkle app has about 200 titles. We will be adding more titles for Tinkle in the next few days."
On platforms like Kindle, this content still requires a subscription. It's only on the apps that it is for free. Usually, a subscription is priced at Rs 299 per month, and at Rs 2,999 for ACK comics.