Over a lakh bibliophiles turned up on the last day of the weeklong “New Delhi World Book Fair” at Pragati Maidan here on Sunday.

According to National Book Trust director M. A. Sikandar, the book fair was a resounding success as a large number of young people turned up for the biennial-turned-annual book fair.

“NBT’s mandate is to popularise book reading habit among Indians. We are not bothered about the commercial success of the fair. Of course, if publishers from India and abroad do good business then it is a cause to celebrate for them. In Kolkata, quite a few book fairs are held. If Delhiites continue to come in such large number at every edition then the day is not far when Delhi will become the literary capital of the country.”

Pointing out that Poland will be the guest of honour country in the next year’s edition of the World Book Fair, Mr. Sikandar said this European country will bring three Nobel laureates for the 2014 event. “They would share their experience in their field of specialisation and become a role model for the young generation.”

This year the concept of guest of honour country was introduced. France was accorded the status of the first guest of honour country. Booklovers purchased quite a few book from the French pavilion at Hall No. 7 which had a mind boggling number of 2,000 French titles.

Students from Delhi University and other universities of the country enquired about courses being offered by French universities in subjects like International Relations and Sociology.

Acclaimed French authors Tahar Ben Jelloun, Kènizè Mourad and Dominique Siguad interacted with book lovers at the author’s corner. Popular French films were also screened at Shakuntalam Theatre.

The theme pavilion focusing on folk and tribal literature also attracted book lovers. Noted literary personalities attended seminars, discussions and workshops.

As part of theme presentation, Desaj – Festival of Folk and Tribal Performing Arts of India – was organised at Lal Chowk by Sangeet Natak Akademi.

A range of activities were organized at the children’s pavilion during the fair. Workshops were conducted on storytelling, creative writing and skits. On Sunday, a puppet show by Vikalp, a non-government organisation was staged at the children’s pavilion.

Young readers of Mussorie-based author Ruskin Bond, who was supposed to turn up during the first few days of the fair, finally succeeded in meeting him in flesh and blood. But as there was a big crowd of admirers only few managed to shake hands with him and get his autographs on books penned by him.

For Shefali of Montford School, the event was more like a cultural extravaganza rather than a book fair. “Every day there was a cultural programme by some group from the interiors of the country at Lal Chowk.”

Other features of the book fair were rights table, book art exhibition and souvenir shops.

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