|(From top) Jagannath Mishra, Nitish Kumar and Sushil Kumar Modi at the inauguration of the Patna Book Fair, the entry gate at Gandhi Maidan and the crowd on the first day. Pictures by Nagendra Kumar Singh
Patna, Dec. 10: The reader in chief minister Nitish Kumar can never have enough of books. Inaugurating the 18th edition of Patna book fair, the chief minister expressed the desire to hold a World Book Fair in Patna.
At the inaugural function, Nitish lit a lamp and released a book on tourism written by Subodh Kumar Nandan, who has already penned a book on shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan. Accompanying the chief minister at the inauguration was deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi
“For the past five years I have been attending the book fair and every year there is some change which is a good sign. Books are very important for everyone as it can bring changes in a man’s life and there is no doubt that in the coming days the book fair will play a significant role in the development of the state,” said Nitish.
He further said: “Even though we are lagging behind in terms of literacy percentage but there is change in perception. People are becoming more aware about the happenings in their surrounding. People in Bihar are fond of reading books and it’s the duty of the publishers to print good books for them. In the year 2005, around 25 lakh children were denied education but now the number has come down to 15 lakh. I will make sure that the number comes down to zero.”
“Cycle for girl students became very popular and it has created a wave of change in Bihar. Primary education has also become better. Now my duty is to bring changes in secondary education. Library, practical, sports and cultural activities are four important pillars. Total change is possible for every human being and books play the most significant role in it,” said Nitish.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi requested young students to buy at least one book from the fair to encourage the publishers on the first day of its opening. He also promised to create a separate department for books and libraries across the state.
The book fair will close on December 21. Over 250 publishers are participating in the fair and 800 stalls have been erected at Gandhi Maidan.
Speaking at the opening function, H.L. Gulati, president, Centre for Readership Development, which is organising the book fair, said: “I have been organising book fairs in Calcutta also. I get very good response from Patna. Every year, we sell around 3 crore books in the fair. This is not only a fair but a platform where intellectuals meet. All kind of books are available in this fair. Now we need to bring out a biography of Nitish Kumar and I am sure it will sell like hot cakes.”
Every year, the book fair presents awards for journalism, plays and literature. This year, photographer Amrit Jai Kishan has won the award in journalism. In literature, the award has been won by Hari Prakash Pandey and for plays, the award has been announced for Vijendar Kumar Tonk. The awards will be formally given on December 19.
The fair is based on the theme “Right to Education” with special focus on underprivileged children and girl child. The book fair will also see a lot of knowledge-oriented activities. The fair will remain open from 11.30am to 8pm on weekdays and from 11am to 9pm on weekends.
A good number of food stalls and arrangements for drinking water have been made at the fair. Security has been beefed up oin and around the Gandhi Maidan.
Sneha Singh, a student of Arvind Mahila College, said: “Every year, I attend the book fair along with my friends and we eagerly wait for this day. I am a student of literature and I love reading books on Shakespeare and Ruskin Bond. I would really want to buy something new this time.”
Raghu Kumar, a Class XII student, had a different view. For him the fair is more fun than books. “I have not come here to buy books, I have come to enjoy with my friends and eat. This is like a festive season for us where we can have fun for more than 10 days.”
I love seeing other people buy books.”
Some of the book publishers include McGraw Hill, Orient Blackswan, Prakashan Sansthan, Rajkamal Prakashan, Hind Pocket Books, Macmillan, Pustak Mahal and Oxford University Press.