Veteran officers switch to eBooks

During the pandemic, they have been publishing a digital book every three months: the Lockdown Issue on May 3, Independence Day Issue on August 15, and Vijay Diwas Issue on December 16

“The pioneers of AFVOA Chennai had been taking the trouble to prepare 20-page newsletters in Word format, print and send the 250 copies by post,” says Wing Commander C. Ravishankar, who is editor for the Association’s newsletter.

“We have simplified the process by releasing the newsletter in the eBook format. We started the practice in May, the first eBook (called Lockdown Issue; 101 pages) being released on May 3. The response led us to make it a regular feature; and the second issue of the eBook arrived on August 15 as Independence Day Issue (237 pages). The Third one was the Vijay Diwas issue on December 16 (167 pages),” points out Wg Cdr Ravishankar (65), who had served in the Air Force as an IT professional, and subsequently, in his second career now, he is an IT consultant. This career move imparted to him the skill sets that prove invaluable to AFVOA Chennai in its digital transformation journey.

“AFVOA Chennai is an inter-services veterans association consisting of members from all three wings of the armed forces. From October 2019 onwards, Air Force veterans took charge of the Association. One of the requests that had come from all the pioneering members of AFVOA Chennai was the resumption of the newsletter. From 2014, the practice of publishing the newsletter had been discontinued for whatever reasons. Prior to that, a handful of the pioneering members had taken tremendous interest in publishing it,” Wg Cdr Ravishankar lays out the backdrop against which the switch to new-media publishing happened.

In a casual discussion, just before the pandemic, Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman and Wing Commander S. Harshavardhan, president and secretary of AFVOA Chennai respectively, wanted to know the modalities of resuming the publication of the newsletter, says Wg Cdr Ravishankar.

The plan was to convert the articles in word format into PDF format, and have them mailed to the members; and for those veterans who were not tech-savvy, a printed version of the PDFs would be sent.

“However, using an eBook software, I had converted the PDFs into an eBook. As Air Marshal Varthaman and AFVOA Chennai’s managing committee had given me a free hand, I did that. When I showed it to them (Air Marshal Varthaman and Wg Cdr Harshavardhan), they were absolutely taken up with the idea. They said, ‘Why not do this?’ There has been no turning back from there. I can add that the pandemic fasttracked the process.”

The next eBook is scheduled for April 14, Tamil New Year’s Day.

Wg Cdr Ravishankar underscores two sections in these eBooks: “Many members in the group are war veterans who have taken part in the wars of India. So, their accounts of first-hand experiences on the war front, go into the section called ‘War Diary’. Then, topics of general interest go under the category “memoirs”. All of us are from Chennai, but we also accept contributions from non-members who are from elsewhere, but that constitutes a small percentage of the articles.”

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