The various types of book fairs in the countries of world indeed personify the noblest facet of a nation in the modern epoch. The Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF), with a claim to a more than five hundred year old tradition, has become over the recent years the largest annual global book event. It is indeed the best tribute to our largely open democratic polity since independence and the mass education as one of the top priority of the state that India has emerged as one of the largest book publishing countries, the third largest - after the USA and the UK - among the publishers in English. To quote the words of President Pranav Mukherjee at the inauguration of the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) in 2014,
“An international book fair of this magnitude is one of the best manifestations of India’s liberal, democratic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and secular society where competing ideas and ideologies have equal space. These values constitute the essence of India... Book fairs such as this should remind us that our history and traditions have always celebrated the ‘argumentative’ Indian and not the ‘intolerant’ Indian.”
The 23rd NDWBF - 2015, held from February 14 to 22 in the popular Pragati Maidan, was inaugurated by the Minister for Human Resource Development, Ms Smriti Zubin Irani. She underlined that,
“Government changes but not a nation’s culture or civilization.”
She welcomed Singapore as the Guest of Honour country and Korea as the Focus country for this year’s fair. Suryodaya: the Emerging Voices from the North East was declared the theme and, ‘Books open the Mind’ was adopted as the slogan of the Fair 2015. It was mentioned that the Fair was spread over 35,000 square meters with more than 1000 Indian publishers and 31 foreign participants. The metro connection to Pragati Maidan has resulted in the much greater increase in the footfalls at the fair.
When I try to look as far back as the memory can travel, so many sweet and strange tales of buying of books flash before the mind’s eye. Interestingly, my dearest and most enduring friend has been a librarian by profession. We had met in Government College, Bathinda in 1968 and the he joined ministry of Defence Library on May 3, 1969 - the day President Zakir Hussain had suddenly passed away resulting in closure of all government offices. We had visited the First International Book Fair - March 18 to April 4, 1972 - in the newly laid out Pragati Maidan. After long spells of stay abroad, it was indeed deeply nostalgic for me to revisit the various NDWBF since return to Delhi in 2004. I have enjoyed attending several interactive sessions with the authors during the release of their books and picking up books of Urdu poetry in Devanagri editions and standard publications of references like Jan Nisar Akhtar edited celebrated two volume of poetry of love of motherland titled ‘Hindustan Hamara.’ It is a great solace for lovers of books that the Sahitya Academy, National Book Trust and Publication Division continue publishing quality works of literature and knowledge and making them available at a reasonable price.
The literature for the children and the new age learning materials including the audio-visual kind have acquired an increasing importance and have also presented new opportunities and challenges. The illustrated reading materials are also gaining a new market and momentum. The books in their new e-format avatar and their on-line marketing have been becoming more and more popular. The book industry has to be creative and innovative to rise to be compatible with the new horizons of technology. It is brave new world of learning and acquiring necessary skills.
|Book Release - Muhim by Dr Sitesh Alok|
As someone born a great-grand-child of an extraordinary saint-scholar and brought up in environs where books were worshipped above everything else, I cannot imagine myself breathing away from the sight of something to read about... I fully share what was proclaimed by 'deewana-e-ilm' - someone mad after learning -
“companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of mind, books are humanity in print... until we invent telepathy, books are our best choice for understanding humanity and the universe around it.”