A spacious, aesthetically-constructed stall by France, the guest of honour country, greets bibliophiles as they step into the pavilion at the ongoing New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan here. Apart from displaying colourful books on diverse subjects, the stall offers French cuisine, besides information on higher studies at French institutes. France is seeking to popularise its literature and French authors are speaking about their work as part of the “Bonjour India” festival.
According to Paris-based Elizabeth, “French books relate to works read and discussed in the host country. Indian readers are inquisitive about French books. They are hungry for knowledge and curious to explore different cultures. As they are genuinely interested in going through books dealing with art, culture and cuisine, our stall caters to their diverse taste.”
Campus France representative Aparna Bhalla says so far three dozen Indian students have enquired about French universities offering courses like political science, international relations and MBA. “We tell Indian students that studying in these institutes not only makes them knowledgeable about world affairs but also exposes them to a different culture. They also get a chance to master French. Moreover, universities allow them to stay in France for six months after completion of their course. During this period they can search for jobs. In the U.K., universities offer foreign students only two months and in the U.S. students are given only three months to search for employment.”
Another attraction is Saudi Arabia’s stall, where a large collection of books predominantly in Arabic are displayed. “The idea is to make available Arabic literature to those aspiring to become research scholars. Books are catering to students pursuing Masters and Ph.D. Copies of Quran in more than four dozen languages, including English, Tamil, Malyalam and Kashmiri, are available. Those interested in them are told to contact our Embassy,” says Hishan.
Australian Greg Taylor is a representative of The Choicemaker from Korea. “We have participated in the Frankfurt Book Fair, Beijing International Book Fair and visited Asia and Europe scouting for genuine publishers. As India’s economy is growing at a fast pace, we decided to participate in this year’s book fair.”
Colourful books from pre to elementary school are on display too, for publishers interested in translating them into regional languages. “Publishing these books costs more than it does in China and India. International illustrators have done interesting visual representations in these books. We may make them available to the public on the last day.”