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Tripura plans literary body

Agartala, Feb. 14: The Tripura government is planning to launch its own sahitya academy that will serve as an autonomous body to promote literary activities and creative writing in the state.

The state already has a Bengali Academy and a Kokborok Sahitya Sabha but the proposed literary body will work for the welfare of literature as a whole, including minority languages like Chakma, Halam and Kaibru.

Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar announced this last night, shortly after inaugurating the 32nd Agartala Book Fair.

Sarkar said the modern world is “knowledge intensive” and dissemination of knowledge is the prerequisite for overall development. He also referred to the flourishing publishing industry in the state. “Till the late seventies there was not a single publisher in the state. But now we have 130 registered publishers and they are doing well. In the run-up to the book fair, I myself unveiled more than 100 titles at various functions over the past fortnight. These were mostly novels, storybooks and collection of poems. There is no denying the fact that organising a book fair since 1981 has helped the process.”

The guest of honour at last night’s inauguration was liberal Bangladeshi intellectual Anisuzzaman who has been conferred the Padma Bhushan by the Indian government.

In his speech, Anisuzzaman reminisced about his days in Tripura during the liberation struggle of Bangladesh in 1971 and asserted that there was no place for fundamentalism or communalism in the globalised world.

“At a time when we are confronting an existential threat from growing ecological imbalances, new diseases and a host of other factors, fundamentalism or communalism are suicidal,” he said.

This year, the book fair’s venue has been shifted to Umakanta Academy from children’s park — where it was shifted from the sprawling lawn of Rabindra Shata-varshiki Bhawan. This repeated shifting of venues has sparked criticism in some circles. Tripura’s leading indigenous poet Ratul Debbarman said the book fair should have a permanent site.

Altogether 151 publishing houses, including four from Guwahati, two from Bangladesh and more than 65 from across the country, have put up stalls this year. However, except for stalls from Assam and Bangladesh, most of the other publishing houses are showcasing textbooks.