Crossing of boundaries as a form of life!

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India is a multilingual and diverse literary landscape. According to NBT, India, “From 1652 languages recorded in the 1961 linguistic survey, to 780 in the most current, we are rapidly losing these languages to the forces of modernisation and urbanisation. Preserving the living heritage of language is an imperative in contemporary times which the India Pavilion recognizes and highlights,” at the recently held Guadalajara International Book Fair 2019, where India was the Guest of Honour country. As Neera Jain of NBT, India, puts it, “The way people looked at the Indian books and how they tried to imbibe reading tradition was very impressive.”

India has a rich repertoire of literature in Indian languages and here translations play a major role in the spread of this rich heritage. Translations are getting recognised and many major publishers have forayed into translation series as well. Translations take cultures beyond borders, so be it translations from one Indian language to another or from foreign language to Indian languages, translations give an insight into rich cultural heritage and are welcome by publishers and readers alike. As Naveen Kishore of Seagull puts it,“It is aglobalized world and publishers nolonger need to be ‘region based’.”

The role of libraries cannot be undermined. It is estimated that there is one rural library for every 11,500 people, while one urban library for over 80,000 people in India. According to a recent article, a country wide structure for administration on public libraries is needed.

State governments run public libraries using taxes from local administrative bodies like city corporations or village councils. But of the 29 states in India, only 19 states have a state library legislation, of which only five have the provision of a library cess or tax levy. It was further noted that states with lower literacy rates got their library legislation – only until recent years. Bihar and Chhattisgarh in (2008) and Arunachal Pradesh in 2009 yet both are still without a library cess. We need more library culture to nurture the habit for reading but for this, we need to create libraries that are free and open to all.

So, in this New Year – with all our Book Fairs and Festivals – let’s celebrate books by nurturing reading habits in our children and as Olga Tokarczuk,(2018 Nobel Prize for literature), says in her press release“for a narrative imagination that with encyclopaedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life.”

Wishing you all a Fantastic and Fabulous 2020!

Shweta
shweta@allaboutbookpublishing.com

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