By AKHTER SOFI
World Book Day – also known as ‘World Book and Copyright Day’ — is celebrated on the 23rd of April. This annual event is meant to promote reading, publishing and copyright awareness among the masses. Specifically, the event acts as a tool to encourage younger generations to read and discover pleasure and knowledge among books as well as creating new ideas for their contribution towards social and cultural development.
The history of this important annual event goes back to 1995 – the Paris Conference of UNESCO. With almost a hundred associate nations including volunteer organisations, universities and professional groups, the World Book Day celebrations attracted people from all corners. Since then, the Day has acted as a diffusing agent of heritage and culture. Celebrated under different themes – ‘Reading is Cool (1998)’, ‘Give a Book (1999)’, ‘Friends for Life (2003)’, ‘Reading : a non-stop Journey (2004)’, ‘Reading is Forever (2005)’, ‘Reading is the Key (2007)’, ‘Be Smart- Read Books (2014)’, ‘Read the World (2015)’, UNESCO, under the World Book Day, has tried to reach every nook and corner, young or old individuals, to enhance book reading.
Celebrating a day to promote book reading becomes a prerequisite and a cognitive act in contemporary times. Since the use of electronic gadgets is increasing, the time spent on book reading is decreasing. The pros of electronic gadgets can’t be denied but the cons can’t be sidelined either. Although these gadgets are a boon, they prove a bane as well. The addictive nature of many mobile apps like games and social apps is precarious for the culture of book reading. The biggest question surrounding these social apps seems to be: are social websites really social?
The argument can go both ways. The ‘heads-down’ nature of people walking around staring at their cell phones seems to be unrealistic and
unsocial. But the output in any case is that the time spent on book reading is reduced drastically. Reading, in our part of the world, is treated as a necessity, but it is to be cultured as a habit. As Jiddu Krishnamurti says, “There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” And everyone is on the same page that the prime source of learning is book reading. Books embody the diversity of human ingenuity, giving shape to the wealth of human experience, expressing the search for meaning and expression that men and women share, that drive all societies forward. Books help weave humanity together as a single family, holding a past in common, a history and a heritage, to craft a destiny that is shared, where all voices are heard by the great chorus of human aspiration.
Books act as a driving force for creating and sharing wisdom and knowledge to generations. In turbulent times, books embody the human capacity to conjure up worlds of reality and imagination and express them in voices of understanding, dialogue and tolerance. They are symbols of hope and dialogue that we must cherish and defend. As they say,» You don›t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get
people to stop reading.» And yes, we seem to heading in that direction!
—The writer is an M.Phil candidate in mathematic