New Delhi: The 18th World Book Fair, the largest in the Afro-Asian region began in the capital on 2 February and will go on till 10 February at the Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.
The major attraction of the Book Fair would be the presentation by Russia, which is the guest of honour country at the fair. Other highlights include various niche enclaves that have thematic displays, new announcements, tie-ups and distribution coups.
Of special note would be the youth pavilion, children pavilion and a pavilion comprising books on and by Mahatma Gandhi. Concurrent would be talks, discussions, book signing sessions and various folk/ art/ literary activities.
Mahatma Gandhi pavilion
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Sahitya Academy Award winner and eminent writer Prof U R Anantha Murthy said that the books have a certain romantic quality and that they have the potential of growing with the readers, provided the reader is tolerant, curious and has a strong sense of patriotism.
“There are great writers and books in the languages that were not a part of the mainstream. The languages need to be treated with respect. They need to be popular with the masses,” he added.
Arjun Singh, minister, human resources and development in a message, said “it is a cliche to say that books are man’s best friend, but sometimes it is refreshing to repeat cliches because they carry the truths of life.
New scheme launched for book lovers
While launching the ‘Home-Library Scheme´ Asha Swarup, secretary, information and broadcasting said, “The scheme offers discounts in customer friendly and convenient packages, hoping to bring into their fold a larger cross section of readers.”
Wide range of titles for children and youth
A book on Sufi poet Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi was also released on the occasion by noted filmmaker Muzaffer Ali. Written by Trinath Mishra, former IPS officer. Mishra said, “Rumi is to Persian as what Tulsidas is to Hindi.”
Stall on RTI generates response
Right to Information seems to be the flavour of the season and a stall displaying books, CDs and manuals on the RTI Act attracted many visitors at the fair. An added bonus is assistance and advice that are on offer to visitors, wanting clarification or details about the Act.
“Our basic purpose is to reach out to people through the platform of a book fair and spread awareness about the Act,” said Manish Sisodia of ‘Kabir´, an NGO working in the field of RTI promotion which has set up the stall.
“So far, the response of the people in the first two days has been great. They are coming to us with their questions and problems and we are trying to assist them.”
RTI activist and Magsaysay awardee Arvind Kejriwal said, “It will be a great help to the people who want to know about the nitty-gritties of the Act.”M M Ansari, central information commissioner released a user friendly CD on RTI. This deals with provisions of the RTI law and its use and is virtually a training kit containing experiences of over 100 workshops, philosophy of RTI and the law,” Kejriwal informed.
Children making beeline for graphic books
Books from India, US, UK and Australia vie for shelf space with parents and children flipping through titles, refuting the claim that the reading habit was on the wane.
The Scholastic India stall has a wide range of titles at affordable prices in fiction, non-fiction, picture books, pop-up books, reference books, work books and quizzes. Beyond doubt, an exhaustive range of books for all ages from pre-school to young adult.
Games, activities, prizes galore for young readers
Some of Scholastic’s top bestsellers are on display, including books by international authors like Philip Pullman, R L Stine, Cornelia Funke, Chris Wooding and Dav Pilkey and Indian authors such as Ruskin Bond, Meera Uberoi, Anushka Ravishankar and Paro Anand among others.
For the first time Scholastic has displayed graphic novels, in keeping with the growing popularity of this genre world over. From—Ann Martin’s The Baby-sitter’s Club, R L Stine’s Goosebumps Graphix, Chynna Clugston-Major’s Queen Bee, and Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet children are digging into these new formats gleefully.
Activities like Spot-Scratch-Win where children have to spot the popular character, Clifford, the big red dog, as he walks around the fair to receive scratch cards that will help them win ipod shuffles, digital cameras, CDs and other prizes in addition to discount coupons have seen students from different schools trying to win one of the thousand scratch cards that Scholastic is distributing daily.
Well-known children’s author, Anushka Ravishankar, visited the stall on Sunday and signed books for children. Sayoni Basu, director publishing, Scholastic India said, “Though the titles offered by us include many different genres, they all share a few essential features: stories that fuel the imagination, characters that linger in the mind, and themes that resonate with children.”
With additional inputs by livemint.com