Taking Books to Readers through Unique Initiatives
“I believe that one book can change your life” says Yuvraj Malik, Director, NBT-India in
conversation with All About Book Publishing. The upcoming New Delhi World Book Fair 2023
is celebrating its 50 years’ journey as well. Here’s more…
As part of its various activities to promote books and reading, National Book Trust India has launched the 81 days’ long Ganga Pustak Parikrama, in association with National Mission on Clean Ganga, covering a journey of 2500 kilometres, passing through 20 major cities, towns and settlements along river Ganga.
Yuvraj Malik, Director, NBT-India, gives an update on the various initiatives taken up by NBT, India to promote reading culture, local publishing houses and booksellers, and encourage a love for books. He also briefs us about the upcoming New Delhi World Book Fair. Excerpts.
AABP: Please share details about the 2500km Ganga Pustak Parikrama?
Yuvraj: As part of its various activities to promote books and reading, National Book Trust India has launched the 81 days’ long Ganga Pustak Parikrama, in association with National Mission on Clean Ganga, covering a journey of 2500 kilometres, passing through 20 major cities, towns and settlements along river Ganga. Flagged off at Gangotri on October 3, the Parikrama will culminate its journey in Haldia on December 22, 2022. The sacred waters of Ganga have inspired sages, philosophers, writers and artists who have immortalized its divine image in the collective mentality of crores of people. This mobile book exhibition is revisiting famous literary writings on Ganga through recitation and discussion of classics. It is also connecting the literary heritage of writers who lived around the river Ganga. While honouring the legacy of the Ganga, the journey also acknowledges the great literature that has bloomed along the banks of the river, starting from the Upanishads, to Tulsidas, to great contemporary authors like Premchand, Rabindranath Tagore, and Mahasweta Devi.
The Ganga Pustak Parikrama is among our many ongoing and upcoming river exhibitions, however, this is our largest river-based mobile exhibition. Over a period of three months, we have reached out to more than a thousand schools and connected with about 1.5 lakh children and young adults among others, and about 3 lakh people in general, making them aware about the cultural and environmental aspects of Ganga on our lives through creative writing, readings, paintings, workshops, discussions and other such books-and-reading-related activities, etc.
AABP: Brief us about more such initiatives by NBT?
Yuvraj: We had the Kaveri Pustak Parikrama, which went on from the September 19-October 26, 2022. This 5-week-long Mobile Book Exhibition made its way to 14 cities and was flagged off in Tumkur on September 19, 2022 by novelist and noted writer, Baraguru Ramchandrappa. Phase II of the Kaveri Pustak Parikrama was flagged-off by Stalin Gunashekharan, Chairman of Makkal Sinthanai Peravai (People Thought Trust) at Erode, Tamil Nadu on October 8, 2022.
After the incredible success of the Ganga Pustak Parikrama and the Kaveri Pustak Parikrama, and the interest shown by the readers and the general public, we have started a Mobile Exhibition along the Brahmaputra river as well and are getting a good response from not just general readers but also school and college students. The Brahmaputra Pustak Parikrama was flagged off in Guwahati on November 7, and has made its way to Tezpur, Itanagar, North Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Pasighat, Roing, Tinsukia, and will now go on to Digboi, Dibrugarh, Shivsagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagaon, Goalpara, Dhubri and Siliguri where it will end its journey on December 24.
We will soon announce the Krishna Pustak Parikrama, an exhibition that will flow across17 cities across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
AABP: How many books are on offer and which genres?
Yuvraj: All books published by NBT-India, across all genres are on 10% discount. Our Book Van is stocked with books on the Ganga, rivers, environmental conservation, city-specific books, NEP-compliant bilingual books for children, the newly-launched India@75 series, and many more in Hindi, Sanskrit and other regional languages like Garhwali, Kumauni. Maithili, Urdu, Bhojpuri,Magahi, Khortha, Santali, Surjapuri, Tharu, and Bengali.We also have our Bilingual titles in Hindi-English which have been specially developed under the framework of NEP 2020 to emphasise the multilingual fabric of our nation.
AABP: What is the main objective of this initiative?
Yuvraj: NBT-India has always maintained the production of good literature, making such literature available at moderate prices, and encouraging reading habits across the country as its key mandates. We find that mobile exhibitions are the best way to do that. And connecting our Mobile exhibitions with our countries’ rivers, which are the lifelines of our country, ensures that we reach every part of the country. As the Knowledge Partner of the country, we will fulfil our role in creating a fun environment of learning and awareness as we flow along on our journey by the river.
AABP: Share the details for the upcoming New Delhi World Book Fair 2023?
Yuvraj: The New Delhi World Book Fair is back in its in-person format from February 25- March 05, 2023 at ITPO’s new International Exhibition Centre at Pragati Maidan. Celebrating its 50 years’ journey, this edition will showcase special pavilions on Theme (Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsava), G20, Award-winning books, Yuva authors, India@75, Sri Aurobindo, various photo exhibitions, Army band and Open-mic events at the Amphitheatre, and much more. With France as the Guest of Honour Country, the specially designed Guest Pavilion will have a delegation of about 60 authors, publishers, illustrators, dignitaries, etc. In addition, there will be B2B conferences – the New Delhi Rights Table (in a new format), re-launch of translation grant assistance scheme, CEOSpeak, and the regular Author’s Corners, Children’s Pavilion, cultural performances – all in all a treat for booklovers!
AABP: Brief us about the Theme Pavilion?
Yuvraj: NDWBF 2023 will have a centrally-placed, specially designed Theme Pavilion on Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, commemorating 75 years of Indian Independence and the glorious history of its people, culture, and achievements put-up across 1000 sq.m. with special exhibits, exhibition of more than 750 titles on Freedom Fighters, National Movement of India, etc. in all major Indian languages and in English, and works of 100+ publishers on Digital Exhibition of India’s achievements during the last 75 years, an Events Corner for hosting panel discussions, books and photo exhibitions, book releases, cultural events, workshops etc. The aesthetically-built Theme Pavilion is being designed by National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad – the Design Partner of NDWBF.
AABP: Brief us about the Guest of Honour country?
Yuvraj: France is the Guest of Honour Country at NDWBF 2023 (as a follow-up of the PM-President Joint Statement signed in March 2018) and book lovers will get a unique opportunity to enjoy French literature and culture at the Foreign Pavilion along with a variety of literary activities at the International Events Corner. France is putting up a special Guest of Honour Pavilion, and is bringing about 60 delegates from France. Visitors to the fair will be able to meet many French publishers, illustrators and authors, and will be able to browse through a number of French books and translated works as well.
AABP: How has NBT succeeded in converting book fairs to book festivals?
Yuvraj: Book fairs are platforms for publishers to exhibit and sell books on a large scale and afford the buyers from all over the country to buy books that they otherwise cannot find easily. NBT-India has taken the platform of fairs and elevated them to festivals by bringing together not just publishers and readers but also authors, illustrators, educationists, in a meaningful dialogue through various book promotional activities and programmes.
Basically a festival and joy of books brought together by joining elements of a book fair, a literary festival, children’s festival, digital & physical exhibition, and cultural performances – all under one event.
AABP: Brief us about the recently held Gomti Book Festival.
Yuvraj: The Gomti Book Festival in Lucknow was held at the scenic Gomti Riverfront Park from October 29- November 06, 2022. The festival saw a number of talks by prominent writers and personalities like Muzzafar Ali, Vikram Sampath, Malini Awasthi, Ashok Ganguly, Sathya Saran, Dr Ravi Bhatt, Pankaj Bhadouria, Kulpreet Yadav, and Piyush Mishra among many others. Daily 800-900 school children participated in various activities held at the Children’s Corner over the period of 9 days. The Festival also held a number of performances, open mics, and talks for and by the youth of Lucknow at the YuvaCon(ner). Book Street, a kilometre long stretch of book stalls from more than 75 publishers and booksellers, was always packed with book lovers exploring various genres and new authors.
AABP: NBT recently granted fellowship to 75 young writers through its PM Yuva Mentorship scheme. Please tell us more about it, and also about YUVA 2.0.
Yuvraj: The PM-YUVA Mentorship Scheme was launched by the Ministry of Education, with National Book Trust, India as the implementation agency to support and encourage young and aspiring authors. 75 Authors were selected from an All-India Contest by an independent jury, from the 16000 entries in 22 official languages and English received from all across the country including some from Indian Diaspora Community. The selected authors underwent six-months of Mentorship in which they were provided research and editorial support under the guidance of eminent mentors and the Editorial Team of National Book Trust, India to develop their book proposals as full-fledged books to be published by the Trust as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav initiatives. Their published books will be later translated into other Indian languages as well. During mentorship, the selected authors received scholarship as well. We are also organizing a National Camp for them during NDWBF 2023.
The next edition of PM-YUVA Scheme – the YUVA 2.0 has been launched and the last date of submission is January 15,2023, with Democracy as the theme. All details can be found on MyGov website.
AABP: How important are such book fairs for the Indian publishing industry?
Yuvraj: With all the talk of physical books becoming obsolete, we think Book Fairs like these are essential in bringing awareness to the fact that this is not the case at all. The purpose of a book fair is to encourage reading culture, promote local publishing houses and booksellers, and encourage a love for books. According to me, learning is a never-ending process, and books are the best medium to increase our knowledge and awareness, and be a well-educated and well-aware society. Despite the so-called technological and digital impact, the printed word is still popular among the readers. The rising footfall in NDWBF every year proves this. I always say and do believe that one book can change your life.