Book fairs were a unique and unsubstitutable avenue in those days as it was the only place where we could buy or read books in large numbers. It was also the time when the Internet was not there, though now we have digital formats which still do not match the charm of a physical book, said Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, Minister for Finance, on Friday.
He was speaking at the inauguration of Madurai Book Fair, jointly organised by the district administration and the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) at Tamukkam Grounds in Madurai.
The Minister recalled how Chief Minister M.K. Stalin took the initiative to give books rather than shawls during functions as an example of how important books are.
Sitting in Madurai we can travel around the world through the pages of a book. Further, book fairs are a blessing to publishers, authors, teachers, most importantly the public, he said and urged them to make best use of it.
Madurai MP Su. Venkatesan recalled how the senior IAS officer T. Udayachandran was instrumental in taking the initiative in the early days to organise a book fair in Madurai. He also commended the district administration to have pulled off a great show within a short period of time. He also said that it is a proud moment as the book fair is the first event to be held in the newly inaugurated Tamukkam Conventional Centre.
“It is a common notion that the young generation is distracted and the reading habit is on the wane, but the book fair’s participants, dominated by kids, paint a different picture,” said S. Aneesh Sekhar, Collector.
Quoting that “a good book is a good friend,” he said that he personally refers to a few books for answers when he is at crossroads in life. Reminiscing about his childhood, the Collector said that he would not skip visiting even a single book fair. “Children must be given opportunities to explore their artistic talents outside of screens, for which reading books is an excellent way to improve their creativity to spark their talents,” he added.
Scores of parents along with children in their uniforms were seen eagerly browsing through the rows of books. V. Somasundaram, 78, a retired Tamil teacher, was happy to buy his yearly quota of books at the fair after two years.
R. Siva, one of the organisers of ‘Siruvar Arangu,’ a designated place where book-reading, storytelling and movie screening sessions will be held on all days along with workshops for children said that it's the first time such a space is a part of the fair. “It's a vibrant place for kids to explore the world of books,” he added.
Interested bookworms can visit stall number 29, 118 and 119 to buy books from The Hindu Group. The fair, housing over 200 stalls, will be open between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. until October 3.
Minister for Commercial taxes and Registration P. Moorthy, Madurai South MLA M. Boominathan, Mayor Indrani Ponvansanth, Corporation Commissioner Simranjeet Singh Kahlon, Additional Collector (Development) S. Saravanan, District Revenue Officer R. Sakthivel, BAPASI president S. Vairavan and others were present.