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Sage India's silver jubilee

On the occasion of Sage turning 25, its founder and chairperson Sara McCune spoke with Mishty Varma.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2006 16:14 IST
Mishty Varma
Mishty Varma

The name "Sage" - contrary to what you think - is actually composed of the first two letters of the names of its founders - Sarah and George McCune.

Sage India, a division of Sage Publications, renowned worldwide for their excellent scholarly journals and books, celebrated its silver jubilee on January 29, 2006. Ms Sara Miller McCune, the founder and chairperson of Sage, was in New Delhi for the occasion and spoke to Mishty Varma about the achievements of the company.

Over to Mishty...
I was welcomed into Ms McCune's lovely suite at the Imperial by Marie, from Sage UK, who has been accompanying Sage’s chairperson across the world.

Ms McCune apologised for sounding hoarse, gently citing her country-hopping in the past many days as the probable cause.

As I settled down, Ms McCune sipping her Scotch and I my water, I asked her how was she liking it in India. "I have lots of friends in India and I enjoy it better because of them. I have been to India fourteen times and a few more to Delhi. Sometimes I come back to Delhi after going to other places."

And which would these 'other places' be? Ms McCune mentioned a whole slew of them, all over India, that included (but were not limited to) Kolkata, Chennai, Ooty, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. "I think I may have travelled to more places than most Indians." Word, I thought.

I mentioned Sage’s publications: Why are they so niche-orientated? Was that deliberate?

"Sage began with a political science journal," said Ms McCune, adding that she changed her major to the same, after 2 years of English literature. ‘We specialised in journals, first of all, and started publishing books much later.We want to make our world a better place and to do that, we will have to understand it. Our publications focus on topics that deal with society. ’

Belatedly, I felicitated Ms McCune on Sage’s achievement in India and asked the question that had been nagging me: Why was India chosen by a foreign publisher for opening its offices, way back in the pre-globalisation era?

Ms McCune has had a long-standing relationship with the sub-continent. "My late husband George – he passed away some years ago. He served in World War II and he was posted in Karachi – this is before the Partition, you know. We got to know many people then and to this day we have remained friends. George and I started Sage in the US in 1965. We opened an office in UK some years after that, and later we decided to start up in Asia, too. We thought of India was because first of all, people know the language. Then, in that time, the Indian rupee matched the dollar. I think it was eight or nine rupees to a dollar. It’s only later that the dollar shot up. And we were familiar with the country; we had our friends to help us. India was the logical choice for us."

Speaking of future plans for Sage, India, Ms McCune spoke of the two series of books that were launched some years earlier: Vistaar and Response Books. "Vistaar publishes books of specific interest to South Asia. We started Response Books in 1995. They are written by management professionals for managers."

Where does the future take Sage? Ms McCune was confident that Sage would be even more successful. "We have a good staff, and Tejeshwar (the head of Indian operations) has great ideas so I can see Sage going places."

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 14:58 IST