India shines as multi-cultural society in Indian languages landscape

-India’s Guest of Honour presentation at Guadalajara International Book Fair was a huge success!

Neera Jain, Director (Officiating), National Book Trust (NBT), India, shares about India’s scintillating presence as Guest of Honour at Guadalajara International Book Fair and the upcoming New Delhi World Book Fair in conversation with Varsha Verma.

Neera Jain, Director (Officiating), National Book Trust (NBT), India

The 33rd edition of the Guadalajara International Book Fair was inaugurated with India as the Guest of Honour Country recently. “The INDIA – Guest of Honour Country Presentation at the Guadalajara International Book Fair 2019 was coordinated by the National Book Trust, India (NBT India) that has been designated as the Nodal Agency by the Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India. The presentation was a huge success as we projected India as a multi-cultural society in Indian languages landscape,” shares Neera Jain, Director (Officiating), National Book Trust (NBT), India.

India Pavilion @ Guadalajara International Book Fair

The India Pavilion at the fair was inaugurated by Sanjay Dhotre, Union Minister of State (MoS) for Human Resource Development (HRD). “The pavilion was beautifully designed by the National Institute for Design in Ahmedabad, based on the concept of presenting Indian culture through the idea of a landscape of languages that embodies India’s multiculturalism through rich and diverse literary and oral practices. The richness of this landscape of languages was depicted through the use of letter-forms from eight widely used Indian scripts and eight that are endangered. Forming the functional and visual elements of the Pavilion, the letter-forms represented the diversity of cultural expressions that through the ebbs and flows of time have made India what it is today,” shares Neera.

With a huge aesthetically built INDIA PAVILION at the book fair in around 1200 sqm, the Pavilion had integrated the representation of Indian scripts; books from India in English, Hindi and Sanskrit as well as those in Spanish; a huge Bookstore; Business Tables for Indian publishers; Rights exchange areas; Author’s Corner for literary events and other activities; Digital exhibitions; Gandhi installation; and much more. The NBT India has also coordinated with other national institutions and with support from Embassy of India had brought together to the book fair representatives from Sahitya Akademi, Capexil, Vigyan Prasar, Lalit Kala Akademi, IGNCA, ICCR, Central Hindi Directorate, CSTT, besides other private publishers.

Authors delegation @ Guadalajara International Book Fair

In addition, more than fifteen authors writing in different Indian languages and in different genres were also part of various literary sessions spread out during the nine-day book fair. These included Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Suvro Banerjee, Ishita Banerjee-Dube, Arun Kumar Bhagat, Benoy K. Behl, Dr. Shrimati Das, Mamang Dai, Kinkini Dasgupta Mishra, Arup Kumar Dutta, Sudarshan Iyenagar, LeeladharJagudi, Advaita Kala, Madhav Kaushik, Koneru Ramakrishna Rao, Krishna Kumari Manavalli, Dr. Madhu Pant, Makarand Paranjape, Anushka Ravishankar, Rishi Singhal, Mini Sukumar, Amish Tripathi, VimalesaKantiVarma and Rachana Yadav.

Indian translations in Spanish

Twelve Indian books were translated into Spanish and were on display at the fair. On this occasion, the Hon’ble Minister released two books of National Book Trust, India in Spanish translation, titled Stories from Bapu’s Life (Anecdotes from Mahatma Gandhi’s Life) and Holidays have Come (by Rabindranath Tagore) while Manpreet Vohra, Ambassador of India to Mexico, launched other books at the fair.

Rights catalogue…

NBT, India also showcased a rights catalogue of more than 200 titles from 40 publishers. “The titles were carefully selected and different genres were covered. There was lot of interest from people in different genres like yoga, self-improvement, Vedic Maths and Indian literature,” adds Neera.

India’s participation: a huge success

“The Guadalajara International Book Fair is huge in terms of the number of visitors each day. Every day, the fair attracted 1 lakh footfalls. The interest shown in Indian pavilion and culture was overwhelming. The way people looked at the Indian books and how they tried to imbibe reading tradition was very impressive,” shares Neera.

On NBT, India…

“NBT, India is publishing books in 50 languages. More recently, we are bringing out hardbound books in a variety of languages. We have also published books in Braille to make reading all inclusive. The Braille catalogue is available in both English and Hindi languages,” shares Neera.

Besides, NBT, India has organised various book fairs like Panchayat Book Fair, Book Fair at Kumbh Mela and Sanskrit Book Fair as well. “More recently, NBT, India, started publishing in Sanskrit also. We have also started coming up with ebooks,” she adds.

On asking about translations, Neera replies, “We translate from source languages Hindi and English as it is difficult to find translators from one Indian language to other. So, we first translate the book into English or Hindi and then get it translated to other languages.”

“Crossing the language barrier, we also publish silent or picture books, where teachers or parents can recite the story to children in their mother tongue. Our main endeavour is to keep literature alive,” adds Neera.

As an advice to promote reading habits in children, Neera says that if parents inculcate reading as a fun activity, then it can inculcate good reading habits in them.

On upcoming

New Delhi World Book Fair…

New Delhi World Book Fair is all set to be held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from January 4-12, 2020. “The fair will be inaugurated by Ramesh Pokhriyal, Minister of Human Resource Department. More than 1000 publishers have already confirmed their participation at the fair. This year, there will be a theme pavilion on Gandhi as the writer’s writer. For this, we have joined hands with National Gandhi Museum which will showcase manuscripts, books and articles from Gandhiji in the theme pavilion. Children’s Pavilion will be alive with various sessions on topics like Road Safety, Swachch Bharat, Yoga, reading promotions, storytelling and of course the illustrators wall,” tells Neera.

“Besides, there will be two Authors’ Corners – one for Hindi writers and another for English writers. There is also a seminar hall where publishers can carry their other activities,” she adds. “There will a Rights catalogue on Theme Pavilion. 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 is organising the New Delhi Rights Table, where 35 countries are participating.”

The signature event organised on the sidelines of New Delhi World Book Fair will be CeoSpeak Over Chairman’s Breakfast, organised by National Book Trust, India in association with FICCI.

On upcoming Paris Book Fair…

India has been designated as the Guest of Honour at Paris Livre (Paris Book Fair) in 2020 (20-23 March). National Book Trust, India (under Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India) is the nodal agency coordinating the Guest Country Presentation at the Book Fair. “There is a keen interest on Indian literature in Paris. We will also project Gandhiji as a leader at the fair and we hope that it would be appreciated by all,” she adds.

Why book fairs are important?

On asking about why book fairs are important, Neera replies that book fairs are important for cultural exchanges. “India’s image in the mind of people is now changing. People are now recognising India as a country with impressive culture and they are glad to see the tolerance and diversity and yet harmony here,” concludes Neera.

Sahitya Akademi @ Guadalajara International Book Fair

K S Rao, Secretary,
Sahitya Akademi

Participating for the first time, India’s premiere literary institution, Sahitya Akademi has undertaken few Cultural Exchange programmes in the Spanish speaking world in the past, but the 2019 Guadalajara International Book Fair provided literary exchange vis a vis Indian writers’ delegation and also opened avenues for taking Indo-Spanish literature forward through interaction with Mexican authors and publishers. K S Rao, Secretary, Sahitya Akademi shared his first-hand account of the visit in conversation with AABP.

On asking about the best moments of this year’s visit, he added, “All the programmes where Akademi delegation members were involved were very well received and that was highly gratifying. If I have to pick one or two programmes, I will choose Symposium on Indo-Mexican Literature and Translation: United the Cultures, that not only enabled showcasing of Indian literary gems to Mexican audience but also laid broader roadmap for getting each country’s classics into each other’s home.”

On asking about books business, he replied, “Sahitya Akademi is of the view that there is a huge market for literary books published in Indian languages and very little of modern Indian literature are available in Spanish in Mexico. We have not commenced exporting our books to Mexico yet. As outlined in three programmes during 2019 Guadalajara International Book Fair, Symposium on Indo-Mexican literature, Translation: United Cultures and Institutionalizing India Mexico Publishing ties, Indian publishers should target taking modern Indian literature across all the genres to Mexican public while Mexican publishers can target bringing out ancient and medieval Mexican mystical literature in targeted Indian languages (given at least 24 Indian languages are there for books to be translated into) and then modern Mexican literature (stories and novels) in phases.”

Commenting on Indian Indian diaspora, he added, “Indian diaspora is increasing by the day and soon there will be a large population spanning different strata of society if the India-Mexican relationships continue in the current pace. This augurs well for the publishing industry of both these great countries.”

Recently, India is the guest of honour at three leading fairs, commenting on same, he proudly explained, “It is very significant that the world has started recognizing importance and relevance of Indian culture and literature. Many Indian classics (ancient and medieval) literature were translated and promoted in many languages of the world including Spanish, showcases India’s contribution to world thought.”

“We look forward to take Literary Exchange programmes between India and Mexico and with other Spanish speaking countries across the globe one notch high by not only sending writers’ delegations to these countries but also receiving writers’ delegations from these countries. Also, another idea is to identify and promote groups of translators in Indian languages and Spanish targeting specifically literature of India and Mexico,” he concluded.

Indian exhibitor @ Guadalajara International Book Fair

Sandeep Kaushik, CEO & Publisher, Macaw Books & Bookmatrix

Guadalajara International Book Fair is one of the most important and biggest fair for the Spanish-speaking market specially for the Latin world. For our company, this is really important as we are working with some of the big publishers in the Latin world.I have been participating here for the last 10 years and the results have always been good.

Business agenda…

We don’t buy any rights and also prefer to sell co-edition as it’s a big market and most publishers want complete Latin America rights.

Indian diaspora…

We have a lot of Indians in Mexico, especially working with the tech companies like TCS and also other companies. They are keen to buy books in English and Hindi as well.

Mexico-India links…

The Mexican publishers can promote books on Mexican culture, food, dance forms and Spanish Learning books. Indian was guest of honour this year and NBT and all authorities made us proud. The NID designed an amazing pavilion. The Mexican people are very fond of Indian culture, food, music and dance forms. We all were welcomed in a very warm way so much so that this time Mexican Publishers, small or big, met us without even prefixed appointments. We surely are looking for better relationship with our Mexican counterparts.

Last but no way the least, I would like to mention our young and dynamic Indian Ambassador to Mexico who had given so much time and energy to this event with his entire team. It was indeed a treat to watch the passion with which they helped us spread our culture during the fair. I am sure this is just the beginning of a very strong relationship with Mexico.

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