Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal visits Asom Granthamela

The event, jointly organised by Asom Prakashan Parishad and All Assam Publishers & Book Sellers Association has attracted nearly 150 book-publishing groups comprising 10 from Bangladesh, 10 from New Delhi and 5 from Kolkata along with local publication houses.

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Nava J Thakuria

Guwahati: Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal visited Asom Granthamela, presently going on at Assam Engineering Institute playground at Chandmari locality in the city on Thursday and took a look around various book stalls at the book-fair. Sonowal, who is immediate past chief minister of Assam, bought several books and interacted with book lovers and students as well.

Jointly organised by Asom Prakashan Parishad (the State government run Publication Board Assam) and All Assam Publishers & Book Sellers Association, the event (29 December 2021 to 9 January 2022) has attracted nearly 150 book-publishing groups comprising 10 from Bangladesh, 10 from New Delhi and 5 from Kolkata along with local publication houses.

Expressing his satisfaction over the event, Sonowal commented that books are the symbol of identity of a community and society. The young generation must inculcate the habit of reading books regularly, said Sonowal adding that everyone on the eve of New Year should make the resolution to bring a book revolution collectively. Prakashan Parishad secretary Pramod Kalita and Assam Children’s Literature Trust secretary Hrishikesh Goswami accompanied him on the occasion.

The 12-day Granthamela was officially inaugurated by State education minister Dr Ranoj Pegu. Also the chairman of Prakashan Parishad, Dr Pegu also expressed happiness that more people are now reading books. The minister however emphasized on developing a culture of book reading and insisted on translating various literary works in Assamese to different larger languages and also translating ethnic linguistic creations into Assamese.

Dr Pegu also honoured Dr Nandita Devi with Prakashan Parishad literary award for her novel ‘Bongol Bohu Door’ along with its publisher Nagen Sarma of Jyoti Prakashan. Asom Sahitya Sabha president Dr Kuladhar Saikia, in his speech, stressed on popularising the books among the young people with new contents. He argued that new technology should be used for making books available to them. Dr Noni Gopal Mahanta, adviser to the education department, claimed that even after the invasion of internet and social media, the books remain popular around the world.

Asom Granthamela 1

It may be mentioned that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the publishers & book-sellers could not organise Northeast Book Fair last year and it even failed to accommodate the annual event because of anti-CAA (citizenship amendment act) movements in 2019 too. However, Prakashan Parishad successfully held Guwahati Granthamela in 2020 with significant public support.

This time, organisers of both the events have joined hands to pave the way for Asom Granthamela, where State chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had taken a positive initiative for the combined effort. Next year, both the events may take place separately if the corona-situation improves significantly, informed Sarma, who served as the education minister in Sonowal’s cabinet.

The inaugural function was attended by State’s education official Pritam Saikia, Prakashan Parishad vice-president Sumanta Chaliha, office-bearers of publishers & book-sellers association Dhiraj Goswami, Imran Ahmed, Baharul Islam Choudhury, etc. The first evening’s cultural programs were inaugurated by Pabitra Margherita, member-secretary of the State level advisory committee for student and youth welfare. The fair is open from 11 am to 8 pm every day where the children are enjoying free entry.

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