January 7, 2017 4:33:59 pm
The 25th edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair themed ‘Manushi – writings on and by women’ began on Saturday, with over 800 participating publishers from across the country and abroad. Touted as Asia’s largest, the nine-day fair was inaugurated on Saturday by Mahendra Nath Pandey, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development.
Jnanpith awardee and Odia writer Pratibha Ray and Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to India Tomasz Kozlowski were also present as Guest of Honour and Special guest respectively. Talking about the Theme Pavilion at the fair, Ray said that literature is “beyond gender and geography”, and that the section on women writing is in fact focussed on “human writing”.
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“I am happy that this year focus is on human writing. But, let me tell you literature is beyond gender and geography. So, all writers are feminists,” she said. Dismissing the popular belief that women are “late comers” in the profession of writing, which is largely believed to “male-driven”, Ray asserted that all writers were different in their creative expressions as each experience is subjective.
“As the view of writers are different, naturally their writings will be different. It should be different, because if they are not, then why write the same things,” she said. The Theme Pavilion on ‘Manushi’ has on display books from different genres, posters and panels of some of the eminent women scholars of ancient and medieval India as well as women pioneers of modern Indian literature.
Both Pandey and Kozlowski highlighted the importance of books in the current technology-driven era. The EU ambassador said that the seeming contrast between traditional books and the Internet, is “spacious” and insisted that technology must not be perceived as a threat. “There is a perception that the role of traditional books in our social lives will be diminshed with the advent of the Internet and other technologies. Some people might even think that books and technology are at contrast.
“I personally think this contrast is spacious. Books are probably the most important form of technology that has ever been invented,” he said.
Talking about the religious and spiritual stature attributed to books in India, where they are synonymous with Goddess Saraswati, Pandey said, “It is important to know the importance of books in the current digital age.” Referring to a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a recent event at the Benaras Hindu University, the Minister said, “Our PM said a very important thing that books are an important part of literature, music and art. If books are not there, then in today’s age of technology, no one can save human beings from turning into a robot.” He also noted that the publication of books have increased with the increase in literacy.
Applauding the theme of the fair, Pandey said it was in line with the government’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign.
While declaring that the EU will be the guest country at next edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair, Kozlowski praised the “flourishing” Indian publishing industry and the growing popularity of Indian literature across the globe. “I would like to declare that the EU will be the guest country in 2018. Publishing in India is flourishing. India is one of the top six publishing industries in the world today and Indian literature is present and appreciated across Europe,” he said.
The fair is also celebrating 60 years of National Book Trust (NBT) at the Special Pavilion, featuring an exhibit titled, “This is No Looking Back!”. The Children’s Pavilion is hosting seminars, panel discussions, storytelling sessions, workshops on creative writing and illustrations among others.
Although the fair this year does not have a guest country at the Foreign Pavilion, but the international segment has participation by over 20 countries including, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Nepal, Iran, Poland, Japan, Spain, Sri Lanka among others.
It will also provide a platform for B2B activities for publishers from India and abroad, and will focus on the idea and business of creating a culture of reading. The fair underway at Pragati Maidan in Delhi, will come to a close on January 15.
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