Reading is as vital as life itself and hence the complaint that reading has died is baseless, said G. Karthikeyan, Speaker of the Assembly.

He was speaking after inaugurating the 15th Kochi International Book Festival at Ernakulathappan Grounds here on Friday. The first revolution in development process happened when books reached our villages ahead of tarred roads and electricity, he said.

In his keynote address, former Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer said that development happens when we empathise with the worries of another. This sublimation of character could be achieved through reading, he said.

Releasing the festival bulletin, Mayor Tony Chammany said that the corporation had initiated steps to improve the functioning of five libraries under it by linking them with the Ernakulam Public Library and thus ensuring that books were circulated more effectively. Hibi Eden, MLA, received the first copy of the bulletin from the Mayor.

K.R. Viswambharan, Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala Agricultural University, presided over the function.

Mr. Karthikeyan honoured literary critics M. Leelavathi and M. Achuthan.

M.V. Benny, secretary of Samastha Kerala Sahitya Parishat, and C.P. Thara, president of the International Book Festival Committee, spoke.

The book festival will be on till December 11.

More In: Kochi | Kerala | National