Celebration of books at New Delhi World Book Fair 2015


Books are the repositeries of our knowledge, culture and civilization. And NDWBF 2015, organised from February 14-22, 2015 was a true celebration of these treasure troves. A report.

The New Delhi World Book Fair 2015 attracted a large contingent of book lovers during the nine days. Over 1,100 exhibitors from 25 countries participated in the Fair, catering to over 10,00,000 visitors. There were 30 participants from foreign countries, who wooed the book lovers with their offerings. Also, vernacular publishers were also present in good numbers, which included publishers in languages such as Assamese, Kannad, Bangla, Gujarati, Malayalam, Orya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu. As many as 39 publishers were present in the book fair in Urdu language, 320 in Hindi and 608 in English language. Over 500 literary programmes were organised with the support of publishers, government bodies and NGOs. Be it the trade visitor, children and youth, the academician or the general reader, there was something for all.


Expressing her extreme happiness while inaugurating the New Delhi World Book Fair 2015 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, Smriti Zubin Irani, hon’ble minister for HRD, Government of India said, “Government changes but not a nation’s culture or civilization. India is the civilization that gave the world the concept of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam.” Passionate about books and reading, Irani asked if NDWBF during the last 40 years has given birth to a writer and wished that we should see as many new writers as possible and thus support good writings.

Extending her heartiest greetings to the Guest of Honour Country, Singapore, she said, “The honour awarded to Singapore also celebrates the 50 years of bilateral relationship and friendship between India and Singapore.” And with Republic of Korea (South Korea) as the Focus Country, she expressed hope that this beginning would further encourage trade and cooperation between the countries.

Addressing the hundreds of students who had gathered there, the minister encouraged them to travel widely and announced her ministry’s plans to launch an initiative called ‘Shodh Yatri’ under which a fivemember team of youngsters, a writer and a historian would be set up for travelling to trace their roots, and such findings would be published by the government in the form of a book. Later, Irani also inaugurated NBT’s Theme Pavilion, Singapore Pavilion and the Korean Pavilion.

Narendra Kohli, eminent author and Guest of Honour at the inaugural session, said, “I am not worried about the people who do not read because God did not create all people to read, but am worried for people who want to read but have no access to books.” In this context, he said that NBT’s efforts were noteworthy in particular to know that it has opened bookshops at Metro stations in Delhi. But he said, “There are hundreds of railway stations where bookshops could be opened and books could be made available to readers.” Even at airports, he observed, that only English and foreign books are showcased but there are no books of Indian languages. The minister in her address took note of Kohli’s suggestion and assured him that her ministry will approach the Railway and the Civil Aviation ministries to set up such book outlets.

In his brief address, Lim Thuan Kuan, high commissioner of Singapore in India, said that Singapore is proud and honoured to be the Guest Country. With both the countries celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations, it is an appropriate time to strengthen people-to-people linkages between the countries. Speaking on the presentation at the fair, he said, “Though Singapore is a small country and a young nation, there are diverse cultures and very distinct literatures. This is what we are trying to showcase at the Singapore Pavilion in NDWBF ’15.”

“South Korea is known for Samsung, LG and Hyundai, but we also have a 2,000-year-old connection when a young princess from India came to Korea and married a Korean king,” said Lee Joon- Gyu, hon’ble ambassador of Republic of Korea. “My dream and objective is to make the people of two countries the best of friends,” he added. Lee Joon-Gyu observed that even though we have had economic and trade relations, but now with South Korea as the Focus Country at this book fair, the relationship will be more through books and culture.

Describing the present edition of the fair as the biggest, JS Deepak, CMD of ITPO (co-organisers of NDWBF) said that the fair act as a gateway for new ideas and knowledge.

In his observations, Satyanarayan Mohanty, scretary, higher education, Ministry of HRD, Government of India, said that the New Delhi World Book Fair is the meeting place of great minds as well as an opportunity to browse and buy books. He was also happy to note that NBT, India has driven the New Delhi World Book Fair for over four decades making it a major international event today.

Earlier in his address Sethumadhavan, eminent writer and then chairman, NBT, India, said, “NDWBF today attracts participation from across the world. The fair’s strength, diversity and its vibrant nature is a contribution of publishers and those associated with the book trade.”

Showcasing Northeast

The Northeast is not a single entity as is generally portrayed in the popular imagination. It is a land that as much defines diversity as it is in turn defined by it. A diversity that speaks through its people, languages, cultures, cuisine, vibrant traditions of music, art and performances, both oral and written. And today, the emergence of a host of writers and scholars are coming out with a vivid, exciting and diverse literary landscape.

“We have been inspired by the diversity that the region offers and we have tried as far as possible to reflect this diversity by trying to depict its quintessential aspects,” says Deep Saikia, the project-in-charge and curator of the Theme Pavilion. ‘Suryodaya: Emerging Voices from Northeast’, the theme of New Delhi World Book Fair ’15 was an earnest attempt to showcase not only the tradition and culture but also the new writings.

The theme presentation brought together some interesting discussions and debates on various aspects of its literature and writers, the insider-outsider debate, the history of the region, women’s voices, children’s literature and cinematic voices of the region. Besides, traditional performances and screening of select movies from the Northeast as well as conversations with some eminent film makers of the region were also a part of the programme. Some of the personalities hosted by the Pavilion included Sanjoy Hazarika, Hemanta Jamatia, Sandeep Phukan, Joy Pachuau, Pankaj Thapa, Sanjeeb Kakoty, Nimmi Kurian, Tilottama Mishra, Preeti Gill, Janice Pariat, Mitra Phukan, Aruni Kashyap, Nirmal Kanti Bhattarcharjee, Amrit Jyoti Mohanta, Mamang Dai, Avinuo Kire, Cherrie Chhangte, Arup Kumar Dutta and Santanoo Tamuly.

To give a basic picture of the region, the pavilion had put up over 25 illustrated panels. Eight panels informed the basic facts and figures of all the eight states of the region and included detail of population, area, communities and religions. Over 220 languages are spoken in the Northeast and they basically belong to three language families—Tibeto Burman, Indo-Aryan and Austro Asiatic. The details of the languages and their families were a part of a panel on Languages of the Northeast.

The Northeast has a very rich heritage of folk and oral traditions. An essential part of the culture, the folklore is also an alternative source of history. Four panels depicting folklore and oral tradition, folk music, folk dance as well as classical dance forms like Manipuri dance and Sattaria dance were also performed. One of the most common festivals celebrated in the region is the harvest festival. Known by various names, the harvest festival is an occasion when communities come together to celebrate it with dance and music. Some of the performances who entertained the visitors at the pavilion included Assamese Bihu dance by Pabitra Rabha’s Dapon Theatre Group, Chokri songs by Testeo sisters–Mangka and her team Laihui, Rida Gatphoh’s The Musical Folks and Sattaria dance by Guru Bhabananda Barbayan.

Other panels were on textiles and weaving traditions, handicrafts and bamboo. Among the other aspects of the Northeast that was depicted in the panels are the Sacred Forests and The Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya, Tea from Northeast, Orchids and the Greenest Village in Asia. Another panel that caught the attention of the visitors was the one on Cinema and Literature. Not much is known or written about films in the Northeast. But films have been made in Gurkhali, Nagamese, Mizo, Bodo, Garo, Jaintia, Khasi, Kokborok, Monpa among others. Some of these films were being screened everyday at the pavilion.

The pavilion also showcased about 300 titles written by writers from Northeast as well as books on the region. Often written in English these were distinct voices that not only echoes the tranquility of hills, but also history, conflicts and contemporary issues facing the communities in general. The writers included not only some of the established names but also a host of young and emerging ones.

A special exhibit of works by artists from Northeast curated by Lalit Kala Akademi was also part of the theme presentation. The artists included Smita Saikia, Shampa Paul, Wahida Ahamed, Mangsatabam Samson, Ruben Tamang, Asha Deb Barma, Hem Khawas, Ramphel Warzari, Thonaojam Robindro Meetai and RL Kharnaior.

Impressive line-up at Guest of Honour country – Singapore Pavilion

Supported by the National Arts Council (NAC) and the Media Development Authority (MDA), the Guest of Country Singapore intende to raise the profile of Singapore in India, and to give recognition to the authors, illustrators, publishers and other key players involved in Singapore’s publishing industry. The Singapore delegates to the fair participated in forums, panel discussions, school visits, bookstore events and official functions.

Syed Ali Semait, executive committee member, Singapore Book Publishers Association (SBPA), explained about his organisation and said, “The SBPA is the only association in Singapore that represents the book publishing industry. I feel Singapore market is slightly different from Indian market. Some books, which we are selling in Singapore might not be equally good for this market. So, I am here to learn more about India and bring customised books for this market.

Though, NG Kah Gay, project manager, Ethos Books, “I feel New Delhi is like Singapore in many ways in terms of urban literature. The kind of literature that we have produced recently, will appeal to young urban Indian population as well. And we have also brought poetry with us, as I feel poetry has a universal appeal.”

While, Anjana Saproo, publishing manager, acquisitions, Marshall Cavendish, Education shared that she is happy interacting with Indian readers/students and shared, “We are happy to see our books being read in India, they are available at Teksons Book Shop, New Delhi. It’s our first time, but we are going to come back again.”

Philip Tatham, publisher, Monsoon Books, added, “It’s fascination to be here. I am here to learn more about Indian book trade. I met with many publishers, distributors, literary agents in just two days, I am excited to be here.”

Focus country – South Korea

The Korean pavilion was set up on the intention to enhance their cultural exchange between India and Korea and also to portray a wide spectrum of good publishers, authors and illustrators of Korea. Their pavilion was beautifully set up with the book sections divided into categories of children’s books, Manhwa (comics) and also historical arts. The work of ten eminent authors from Korea were also available in Korean and English language. A pictorial exhibition of these authors displayed in modern 3-D flexible design provided a panoramic view to the visitors. There was a separate wall of fame for illustrations that were awarded the Bologna Ragazzi Awards. The wall exhibited a few original illustrations framed in an aesthetic manner with the concerned books in which they appear.

Books and beyond

Literary activities at NDWBF included Author’s Corners (Reflections, Conversations, Sahitya Manch and Lekhak Manch), which added charm to the fair and provided visitors an opportunity to engage in interactive sessions with authors, poets and many other personalities from the book publishing fraternity. Right from the day one of the fair, Author’s Corners across the halls saw interactive discussions, such as Rachna Path, Kavita Path in which authors and poets from far and near corners of India, including Northeast region participated.

Promising authors like Indrajit Hazra, who recently co-penned a hilarious book The Novel Cure: A–Z of Literary Remedies, marked a brief presence at Author’s Corner (Conversation) to discuss his latest release. Among the other discussions at Sahitya Manch corners included Dalit Strivad Aur Uski Chunautiyan, organised by Dalit Lekhak Manch; Badalte Parivesh Me Sahitya Ki Bhumika, organised by NBT; and graphic novelist Ashok Chandra’s explanatory note on his debut work Gandhi: Mera Jivan Hi Mera Sandesh, and many others.

Publishers organised big fat book releases at Sahitya Manch and Author’s Corners. Some landmark release functions included the launch of Modi: Wheels of Change by ASM Shamsul Arefin, author of the book from Bangladesh, who coins a goodwill bilateral relationship between the two countries through writing. Yet another well-attended release function was of Kavita Path by Shishir Kumar Maurya, Kumar Anupam, Sujata Tevatiya, Pranjal Dhar and Nitu Arora. Kiran Bedi paid a momentary visit to the fair to introduce her book Swachh Bharat Checklist, coauthored with Pawan Chaudhary, at one of the Author’s Corners.

Inspiring discussions at Author’s Corners stressed on emerging values and prospects of books, industry and beyond. Young authors like Shranash Goila turned up at the podium for a discussion on his book India On My Platter. Others in the league at the corners include a string of budding and established authors like Ziya Us Salam, Ashutosh, Shombit Sengupta, Srishti Khanna, Amit Shanker, Shruti Pandalai, to mention a few. Indian transgender activist Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, who released her book I Am a Hijra, I Am Lakshmi, at one of the Author’s Corners interacted with audience amid big applause she received for her courage and stand against all odds in the society.

Activities galore for children

Children have hidden talents and they need to be explored by adopting various techniques/tools and methods like inculcating reading habit among them and encourage them to participate in collective book reading, workshops on creative writing and illustrating, book reviews, interactive sessions and meetthe- author sessions, etc. The participation of grown-ups especially the professionals in the field of children’s literature is important to learn the psychology of children and other aspects associated with children. With this objective, National Book Trust, India through its dedicated wing especially for children the National Centre for Children’s Literature (NCCL), put up a Children’s Pavilion at the New Delhi World Book Fair and hosted a number of activities for children.

Upendra Kushwaha, hon’ble minister of state for HRD, Govt of India, while inaugurating the Children’s Pavilion, said, “I am delighted to see children, their presence always give me happiness and remind me of my childhood. Spending time with children is the best moment for me.

Children rejuvenate my spirits.” Urging the children present on the occasion to read more and more books, he spent a while in watching performances of the children from various schools of Delhi & NCR.

At the Children’s Pavilion, NBT, India also paid tribute to Late RK Laxman, wellknown cartoonist, at Cartoon & Comics Corner. Laxman worked for newspapers for about five decades. He introduced the concept of pocket-cartoon through his character ‘Common Man’ who observed the social and political events around them and felt helpless. He was an ardent fan of David Low, a famous British cartoonist and adopted his style. Laxman was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan and Magsaysay awards. In the Children’s Pavilion, his works on Common Man and illustrations from the famous book Swami and Friends, written by his brother and noted writer RK Narayan, were on display.

The comics displayed at the pavilion were ‘Grassroot Comics’. These comic strips were developed in a three-day workshop organised in different parts of the country Activities galore for children by an NGO World Comics India in which people belonging to different strata of the society participated including homeless people, students, teachers, villagers, women among others. Through comics, people express their views and bring to light their social issues and challenges they face. These comics strips are tools of communication for common people and help raise issues that are usually ignored by mainstream media. It is non-threatening media and the concept has spread to many countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, etc.

Noted children’s writers and illustrators Aabid Surti, Manoj Das, Subhadra Sengupta, Madhu Pant, Sharad Sharma among others regularly participated in interactive sessions with children at the pavilion. The workshops on cartoon and comics, storytelling sessions, illustration workshops, etc. attracted a large number of children from various schools in Delhi & NCR. Apart from children’s activities, seminars and panel discussions were also being organised.

Best display awards @ NDWBF ’15

India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) conferred the best display awards to the following publishers in different categories:
Foreign Pavilion:
i – Korea
II – Singapore
III – Indonesia

Children’s Pavilion:
i – Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan,
i I – Macaw Books
i II – Vishv Books

English Publishers:
i – Hachette Book
Publishing India Pvt Ltd
i I – Roli Books
i II – Om Books

Hindi and other Indian languages:
i – Radha Soami Satsang Beas
i I – Islamic Books Services Pvt Ltd
i II – Rajkamal Prakashan

“Book fairs are the best way to bring together civilizations”

says Ahmed Rakkad Al Amri, director of Sharjah International Book Fair @ NDWBF ’15.

A four-member delegation from Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) attended NDWBF. The team was headed by Ahmed Rakkad Al Amri, director of SIBF. He is also the chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA). “The purpose of our visit is to meet various government organisations, associations, publishers, writers, right agents and media people as part of the worldwide promotion of SIBF and Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF),” told Ahmed.

“Five years ago, we just had three Indian publishing companies and one Indian author at SIBF. Last year, we had 100 Indian publishers and 14 Indian authors including Chetan Bhagat, Shashi Tharoor, Virender Kumar, Amitav Ghosh and Amish Tripathi. Infact, Chetan Bhagat launched his novel Half Girlfriend for the international market at SIBF ’14. Eight thousand copies of this novel were sold at the fair itself,” told Ahmed.

Talking more about the SIBF ’14, he said, “Last year, there were 1,256 exhibitors. SIBF is the only book fair which bestselling author Dan Brown has attended.” He also mentioned about the translation grant of US$3,00,000, which includes US$ 4,000 for general titles and upto $ 1,500 for children’s books. The grant also include $2,50,000 for Arabic to any language or vice versa and $50,000 from any language to other language (not Arabic). “Last year, we got 222 books translated and this year, we have received 550 application for translations grant,” told Ahmed proudly.

Another important achievement of SIBF is a partnership with American Library Association (ALA), which has 70,000 members across the world. “They organised a conference at SIBF, the first of its kind, which attracted 802 librarians,” he added. Ahmed also told about the Sharjah Book City under SBA, which is a free zone for publishers. “It offers a good environment to meet agents, translators, etc and promote business.”

On a concluding note, he shared, “We feel that book fairs are the best way of bringing together different civilisations and to seek peace among various countries.”
Cultural performances at Lal Chowk

As part of the NDWBF ’15, evenings were alive with cultural performances from different states, organised by Sahitya Kala Parishad and NBT, India. Visitors were mesmerised with the performances.
Seminar on Afro-Asian co-operation in Publishing & Printing

On the sidelines of the NDWBF, Afro-Asian Book Council organised a seminar on Afro-Asian Co-operation in Publishing & Printing. The chief guest to the occasion was Dammu Ravi, joint secretary, Ministry of Commerce, who expressed his happiness to be with diverse audience. Amongst various challenges of publishing, he underlined that internet is a challenge for publishing but innovation in print can face it comfortably, he said. Interestingly, he mentioned that Gandhi and Nehru are household names worldwide.

Vijitha Yappa, chairman, Af r o – Asian Book Council, (a publisher as well as senior official of various associations), mentioned that the council is now in its 25th year. “There is a great scope between Africa and Asian countries to exchange knowledge. There is a need for books of different languages,” he said. He also informed that Incheon City in the South Korea has been named ‘World Book Capital’ for the year 2015 by UNESCO, recently.

The Council also conferred ‘Outstanding Performance Awards’ in various categories. These included: Mukesh Dhruve, Repro India Limited (Book Printing); Vijay Ahuja, Delhi Book Store (Book Distribution); Gaurav Sabharwal, Uread.com (On Online Store), Prakash, ESolutions Pvt Ltd (Online Book Selling); Arvind Jain, Star Educational Books Distributor Pvt Ltd (Book Export); Sandeep Kaushik, Macaw Books (Children Book Publishing); Rajan Jain, Scientific International Pvt Ltd (STM, Book Publishing); Prof Ajay Dubey, professor, Centre for African Studies, School of International Studies, Jawahar Lal Nehru University (Authorship) and Dr Jagdish Arora, (Information and Library Network).

The speakers who made their presentations during the seminar included: Vijitha Yappa, Prof Ajay Dubey, Dr Jagdish Arora, Kailash Balani, Mukesh Dhruve and Arpita Das. Pranav Gupta, director, Afro-Asian Book Council proposed the vote of thanks.
Rights Table @ NDWBF ’15

The Indian languages have a very long tradition of translation. Translation was a major activity in our history from the Bhakti Movement to the Freedom Movement. As part of its effort to promote Indian books abroad and to facilitate business interactions to buy/ sell translation rights between Indian publishers and foreign publishers, the National Book Trust, India organised New Delhi Rights Table on February 16-17, 2015 on the sidelines of NDWBF

NBT, India in association with All About Book Publishing magazine brought out Show Daily at NDWBF ’15, which was much appreciated by all.

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