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Madurai Book Fair kicks off

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The book fairs were a unique and essential avenue at that time because it was the only place where one could buy or read books in large numbers. It was also the time when the internet did not exist, although now we have digital formats that still lack the charm of a physical book, Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan said on Friday.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the Madurai Book Fair, jointly organized by the district administration and the Association of Booksellers and Publishers of South India (BAPASI) at the Tamukkam Grounds in Madurai.

The Minister recalled how Chief Minister MK Stalin took the initiative to give books instead of shawls during functions as an example of the importance of books.

Sitting in Madurai, we can travel the world through the pages of a book. Besides, book fairs are a blessing for publishers, authors, teachers, and especially the public, he said and urged them to make the best use of them.

Madurai MP Su. Venkatesan recalled how senior IAS officer T. Udayachandran was instrumental in taking the initiative in the early days to organize a book fair in Madurai. He also praised the district administration for pulling off a great show in a short time. He also said it was a proud moment as the book fair is the first event to be held at the recently inaugurated Tamukkam Convention Centre.

“It is a common notion that the younger generation is distracted and the habit of reading is on the decline, but the book fair attendees, dominated by children, paint a different picture,” said S. Aneesh Sekhar , collector.

Quoting that “a good book is a good friend,” he said he personally refers to a few books for answers when he finds himself at a crossroads in life. Reminiscing about his childhood, the collector said he would be sure to visit even a single book fair. “Children should be given the opportunity to explore their artistic talents outside of screens, for which reading books is a great way to enhance their creativity to stimulate their talents,” he added.

Dozens of parents accompanied by children in uniform were seen eagerly leafing through the rows of books. V. Somasundaram, 78, a retired Tamil teacher, was happy to buy his annual quota of books at the fair after two years.

R. Siva, one of the organizers of “Siruvar Arangu”, a designated place where book readings, storytelling and film screenings will take place every day as well as workshops for children said that it is the first time that such a space is part of the fair. “It’s a vibrant place where children can explore the world of books,” he added.

Interested bookworms can visit booth numbers 29, 118 and 119 to purchase books from The Hindu Band. The fair, housing more than 200 stalls, will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. until October 3.

Minister of Business Tax and Registration P. Moorthy, Madurai South MLA M. Boominathan, Mayor Indrani Ponvansanth, Company Commissioner Simranjeet Singh Kahlon, Additional Collector (Development) S. Saravanan, District Revenue Officer R. Sakthivel, President of BAPASI S. Vairavan and others were present.