Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor on Monday said there is a growing spirit of “competitive intolerance” in the country.
Inaugurating the New Delhi World Book Fair, Tharoor said, “To my mind, one of the most worrying developments of our culture in the last two years has been the growth of the spirit of competitive intolerance.”
He said more and more groups now “claim the right to be offended” by something in a book, in a film or in a work of art.
Without referring to any particular incident of public intolerance Tharoor said, “We need to tell them that that if they are offended, if they disagree, they have the right to object, protest, argue and engage, instead of seeking the right to forbid, to ban and to deny others the opportunity to conclude for themselves.”
Tharoor also pointed out that the importance of the book fairs in a democracy is that they manifest a liberal democratic and secular society that we are proud of in which competing ideologies, competing freedoms and expressions have an opportunity to present themselves for the discerning members of the public.
He said each of us must be able to always have the consciousness “that we bring to each book our own sensibility, spirit and sense of judgement.
The New Delhi World Book Fair -2013 opened with the participation with 25 countries, four international organisations and a number of new attractions for the visitors at Pragati Maidan in the capital.
The book fair was declared open by Shashi Tharoor in the presence of Chairman, Indian Council for Cultural relations Karan Singh and Chairperson NBT A Sethumadhavan. Francois Richier, Ambassador of France to India was the guest of honour at the function.
Starting this year, the World Book Fair — which was held once in two years — will be an annual affair.
This was announced by Chairperson & CMD, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Rita Menon. “HRD and the National Book Trust are partnering with ITPO to make this an annual fair,” Menon said.
The fair will have a “Rights Table” this year to enable exchange of translation rights in different languages and countries. Menon also said the fair will include an “Author’s Corner” in each hall where participating publishers will invite authors to interact with readers and help them connect.
A special e-books pavilion has also been included this year.
Menon said the fair has also been opened for business-to-business visitors to the help the publishers. Another new feature of the fair is the children and youth pavilion where beside books, children will be able to don costumes of their favourite characters from books.
WBF 2013 will also include a book art exhibition.
Besides this, guest country, France, is holding “Bonjour India”, a festival of France for Indian book lovers.
French Ambassador to India Francois Richier said manuscripts, which were recently saved from Timbuktu are also available at the French pavilion.
France will also be organising a performance from French theatre at the Shakuntalam Theatre at Pragati Maidan.
The Sangeet Natak Academy will present performances of Indian folk traditions at the Lal Chowk Theatre every day as part of the Fair’s theme, ‘Indigenous Voices: Mapping India’s Folk & Tribal Literature.’
President of the Federation of Indian Publishers Sudhir Malhotra said that though the position of Indian publishing houses has moved to among the top five in the world the progress is still uneven as “publishing in Urdu, Oriya, Kashmiri and languages from the North-East have not kept pace.”
He said that these languages require an enabling environment and a responsive frame work.
Pakistani publishers who's arrival in the country was clouded by visa issues are expected to occupy their stalls by Tuesday.