New Delhi, Feb 15: President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday said book fairs remind people that the country’s history has always celebrated the “argumentative” Indian.
“India’s pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity is our greatest strength and a multiple source of inspiration for every Indian and that we must be uncompromising in rejecting intolerance, prejudice and hatred,” the president said while inaugurating the New Delhi World Book Fair 2014.
“Book fairs such as this should remind us that our history and traditions have always celebrated the ‘argumentative’ Indian and not the ‘intolerant’ Indian.
“Multiple views, thoughts and philosophies have competed with one another peacefully for centuries in our country and freedom of speech is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution and tradition,” he said.
The nine-day event that will end Feb 23 is taking place at Pragati Maidan. Over 25 countries are taking part in the fair, and this year’s focus is children’s literature with the theme “Kathasagara: Celebrating Children’s Literature”.
The president appreciated this effort and said children should enrich themselves with the country’s rich literary culture.
“India has had a long and rich tradition of literature written for children as manifested in our folk and oral storytelling traditions, panchatantras, mythologies, puranas, jataka tales etc. Literary giants like Rabindranath Tagore, Premchand, Abanindranath Tagore and Sukumar Roy have written for children,” he said.
“No human society can develop in all its dimensions if it does not produce meaningful literature for its children and young readers. I call upon authors, publishers and the government to do their utmost to promote children’s literature.
“I also appeal to parents and teachers to inculcate in children the habit of reading at a young age itself. Implanting the habit of reading in children will ensure that it becomes a skill that stands them in good stead throughout their lives,” he added.
Apart from regular exhibitors, there will be panel discussions, workshops, interactive sessions and a spacious children’s zone to serve to the younger audience’s needs.
Children, teachers and educational activists will also come under one roof to deliberate on topics like “Need for Classroom Libraries”, “What Do Children Read?” and “Issues in Contemporary Indian Children’s Literature”.
To promote Indian writing overseas, the organisers have a “Guest of Honour Country” section where a nation gets an exclusive opportunity to conduct discussions and promote its literature.
This year, Poland is the guest country and its 25 delegates comprising authors and illustrators are at the fair.