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Palm impressions to help build portrait

- NE book fair pays tribute to Lakshminath Bezbaroa & Bhupen Hazarika

Guwahati, Dec. 25: Visit the North East Book Fair and pay tribute to two great Assamese, Lakshminath Bezbaroa and Bhupen Hazarika, by contributing to a 300 square foot portrait of the two. The organisers of the fair are making the portrait by taking palm impressions of visitors.

Rabin Bar, secretary of Ellora Art & Craft Society, a Guwahati-based painting school, is supervising the portrait along with nine others. Litterateur Homen Borgohain inaugurated the programme this morning at the book fair venue.

“The portrait will be made with palm impressions of people from across the state irrespective of community. It symbolises how the duo endeavoured to unite all communities of the state through their work,” Bar said.

The portrait will be completed on December 31.

The fair was inaugurated today by renowned poet Nalinidhar Bhattacharjya. He appealed to the new generation to take up the pen to rekindle the spirit of the word in people. He said the new generation is more interested in computers than in books. “Books show us the path of achieving peace in life,” he said.

Many publishing houses are yet to put up their stalls. “Almost all publishing houses will open stalls from tomorrow,” said an organiser.

Cesare Bieller, consul-general of Italy, attended the inaugural programme of the fair today and said they would put up a corner stall to showcase the culture of his country.

“We put up stalls in Calcutta Book Fair last year. We will do it here next year. I hope Italy will be the focus country in the 16th edition of North East Book Fair,” Bieller said.

Sumit Bhattacharjya, assistant director of National Book Trust, said although India is the sixth largest country in publishing books (comprising all languages) and the third largest in publishing English books alone, there is still lack of professionalism in the publishing industry.

“Publishing books is not yet considered a serious occupation in the country. There is lack of professionalism. Publishing houses are not seen conducting market surveys before publishing books. Rather, they publish books out of emotion and then look for market,” Bhattacharjya said and added that there are 17,000 publishing houses in the country.

“Electronic media and ebooks cannot reduce popularity of printed books. I have observed that interest of people for books has increased over the years. This is because of the loneliness that urban people are suffering from these days. They have started reading books as a means to remove loneliness,” said Lakhinandan Bora, former president of Asam Sahitya Sabha.

Sources said a few small publishing houses could not participate in the book fair because of high rents charged by the organisers for stalls.

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