New Delhi, Feb 4 : The World Book Fair here became an annual event Monday after 41 years of inception as a bi-annual book carnival, with its inauguration by Minister Shashi Tharoor.

Karan Singh, president of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, and French ambassador Francois Richier graced the event at the Pragati Maidan as guests of honour.

The fair, which began at Windsor Place here with 200 participants in 1972, was held every alternate year. Henceforth it will be an annual spring gala on the capital's calendar.

The theme this year is Indigenous and Folk Literature. France is the guest country.

The Feb 4-10 event has drawn nearly 1,100 exhibitors from 28 countries exhibiting books in about 2,100 stands.

The National Book Trust has organised it in partnership with India Trade Promotion Organisation.

The transition from bi-annual to an annual feature is marked by three special features: a separate rights table to facilitate publishing and retail trade, an authors' corner and a CEO Speak where CEOs and senior executives will speak on the publishing industry.

Addressing the fair, Minister of State for HRD Tharoor said books have become increasingly important in an age of “competitive intolerance”.

He said the importance of the World Book Fair was in upholding the ethos of a “secular society and freedom expression”.

“We don't depend on groups to stand up and tell us what we should

read,” he said.

Emphasising the relevance of printed books, Tharoor said: “We have to

think of the digital revolution."

But he added that conventional books must be celebrated because books “enhanced the quality of our moments”.

Karan Singh said the world was precariously poised between the changing past and an indeterminate future.

The mind of the nation depended on “how does it find expression in a predominant civilization mode of one living in a time of transition”, the MP noted.

The challenges to publishing and preservation of knowledge bases were “the challenge of terrorism and fundamentalism and the challenge of the Bamiyan”, he said.


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