Book fair hosts tribal voices - Santhali, Ho works on offer

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  • Published 29.09.12

A small step in promoting indigenous literature, a giant leap in providing a platform for the hitherto ignored tribal voices of Jharkhand, this fair promises to be different.

National Book Trust, in association with All India Tribal Book Sellers’ and Publishers’ Forum, on Friday kicked off a three-day book fair that has on offer tomes in major tribal languages such as Santhali and Ho.

The fair, being organised at Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya at Karandih, aims to boosting the morale of tribal writers and give them an exposure among the young generation.

After inaugurating the fair, Jamshedpur MP Ajoy Kumar said an attempt should be made to convert hardback copies of tribal books into e-books so that everyone, even those who cannot make it to such fairs, had access to them.

Kumar also mooted the idea of holding the fair in a grander scale next year in a prominent place of Jamshedpur, like Gopal Maidan.

“It is a wonderful attempt. I hope next year, the event is held in the main city so that it draws more crowds. If the tribal books are converted into the digital format and uploaded on various websites, they can be accessed by anyone from any part of the world,” Kumar said.

Supporting Kumar’s idea for wider exposure, Mangal Majhi, a tribal book publisher, said they wanted such fairs to transcend boundaries of districts and the state.

“We do not get many platforms to promote indigenous languages. This is one event that we have managed to organise. There was a time when Santhali and Ho were on the verge of becoming extinct as a language. But now we have got support from the National Book Trust,” Majhi, a key figures behind the event, said.

Organisers said the fair had 12 kiosks that had been set up by publishers from the state and from Bengal. The collection on display was varied —from Ol Chiki dictionari es to Santhali books penned in the Roman script to jokes to grammar books, among others.

Books on Santhali folk tales, tribes and castes of Bengal and those on the 1855-57 great Santhali insurrection are also available.

The first day of the fair witnessed the launch of a script conversion software wherein Ol Chiki can be translated into Devnagari, Roman and Bengali. An e-dictionary (Ol Chiki-English-Ol Chiki) was also unveiled.

Sources said that tribal literature would also find a place at the World Book Fair scheduled to take place in New Delhi in February next year, with four kiosks — under the theme Indigenous Voice — being set up at Pragati Maidan for the event.