PROFESSOR Bipan Chandra, a renowned historian and a Padma Bhushan awardee, is the Chairman of the National Book Trust, India (NBT). In this interview, he talks about the NBTs importance and his plans to a promote book-reading culture.
The NBT has been organising the countrys biggest book fair for many years now. Could you tell us about the books you showcased?
The New Delhi World Book Fair is the largest fair in the Afro-Asian region. This time more than 1,200 publishers, from 15 countries, participated. Our special pavilion this year displayed books on sports in Indian and foreign languages, which was aimed at bringing into focus the Commonwealth Games to be organised in New Delhi in October 2010. The other attractions were the childrens and youth pavilions and an exhibit of books on and by Jawaharlal Nehru. Workshops, seminars and book releases were also organised. The fair helps publishers to sell books on a large scale. Bibliophiles get to buy books in several languages on varied subjects.
What other events does the NBT organise to promote a culture of reading books?
The NBT also organises mobile exhibitions, seminars, workshops and festivals at the regional and national levels. It participates in international fairs to promote Indian literature. In 2008-09, the NBT participated in seven international book fairs. India was the guest of honour at the 22nd Moscow International Book Fair. Thirteen litterateurs representing many Indian languages participated in the fair.
At the London Book Fair, organised in April 2009, the NBT was a partner. The aim was to promote its golden jubilee post-Independence project of publishing anthologies of poetry, short stories and plays in major Indian languages. We have approached international publishers who are interested in translating our books and to promote our International Rights Catalogue of the Works.
What has the NBT done to promote books in regional languages and document oral traditions?
The NBT has undertaken projects such as Documenting Oral Storytelling Tradition (DOST) and National Action Plan for the Readership Development among the Youth (NAPRDY). DOST chronicles the oral tradition of storytelling of all communities. The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), which is collaborating with the NBT, will then disseminate it across borders. And NAPRDY focusses on the needs of young readers.
The NBT has published books of 31 young authors. It provides subsidies to private publishers to publish technical books for higher education and also conducts training courses in publishing.