38th Agartala Book Fair at Hapania International Fair Ground. (Express Photo by Debraj Deb)
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb Wednesday inaugurated the 38th Agartala Book Fair at Hapania International Fair Ground, 5 Km from Agartala, and said that shifting the book fair from its traditional venues at Umakanta Academy or Children's Park, is an example of changed mindset of a model state. The book fair started with observing a minute of silence in honour of slain martyrs at the Pulwama attack.
"This book fair is an example of model state. The fair was organized for the first time out of Agartala city, bringing it close to people from the suburbs," said Biplab Kumar Deb.
The state-level book fair this year has come down to 129 stalls from 150 stalls last year. One of the main reasons of decline in publishers participating in the book fair this year is a decision of Tripura Publisher's Guild to refrain fr.joining the fair. The decision was taken after the government declined to heed their plea for not changing the book fair venue.
In an oblique reference to the publisher's guild's protest, the CM said some people tried to dishearten others about book fair but claimed people of Tripura were not disheartened. He said he believed one should stick to any decision, once resolved.
"We had repeatedly requested the state government to allow the book fair to continue at its usual place. Reader's count had dwindled in previous years already. We believe the new venue might affect it further. Many in the government assured us the issue would be considered but eventually, they asked us to join the fair at its usual place. So, we have decided to stay away from it this year", Deb said.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Tripura Publisher's Guild founding member Shubhabrata Deb said 23 out of 33 publishers who are members of the guild have chosen to 'abstain' from joining the fair.
The book fair organizing committee has organized 12 awards for the book fair this year in literary, cultural and social service sectors. These include the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Lifetime Award for contribution in arts, culture, and literature, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Jatiyo Sanghati Purashkar for contribution in social service, Salil Krishna Smriti Purashkar, Sachin Dev Barman Smriti Purashkar, Kali Kinkar Debbarman Smriti Purashkar, Kabi Sukanta Purashkar, Vishmadev Bhattacharjee Smriti Purashkar, Lalan Purashkar, Tripuresh Majumder Smriti Award, Best Publication Award in Bengali and Kokborok languages apart from the Best Publishers Award. Kokborok is a lingua franca of most of Tripura's 19 tribal communities.