On Friday evening, I came across an attractive poster on social media that read ‘’Say No to April Fool, Gift a Book’’ and which was being widely shared and appreciated by people for the beautiful and novel idea it carried. That is, of gifting a book instead of making a fool of someone on April 1, celebrated as All Fool’s Day. This is actually a week long campaign run by Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, a students’ organisation of J&K, from April 1 to April 7 to repel the West-borne “April Fool” day by a campaign promoting knowledge, literacy and decency.
This campaign, rare of its kind, signifies the awakening and awareness in our youth vis-à-vis the urgent need to encourage reading culture that we lack in our society, at large. These self aware and awakened youth , who cherish knowledge through this Book-Gifting campaign, aim and aspire to spark curiosity, boost imagination and creativity levels of the new generation and enable them improve their understanding of the world , at large, and issues thereof. A nation fighting a battle for its existence cannot allow the death of reading habits, as they realize what Ray Bradbury, American author says “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them”.
Where it is globally recognized that ‘‘Kashmiri students are sharp and inquisitive’ (Dr.Shahid Jameel, CEO – The Welcome Trust/DBT India and former Assistant Professor at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center), we are witnessing an unfortunate trend wherein reading culture is rapidly dissipating in our society (this is a very unhealthy sign for any society). Reading is being taken over by instant and short content on social networking sites, and, in the process, we miss out on the imaginative world of books that enable us to enrich ourselves with their creativity.
Against this backdrop, while our institutions have failed to build a vibrant reading culture and spread enthusiasm for books in our youth, this campaign, if successfully run, could be very helpful in this direction and set a precedent for others to run campaigns along similar lines. The novelty of the idea behind the noble campaign lies in its timing to coincide with the day commemorated by playing tricks, jokes, cheating and spreading lies and hoaxes, and thus replace these aberrant traditions with commemorating it by gifting books that mark respect, decency, quest for truth and spreading knowledge. IJT deserves all the acclaim, appreciation and support for such noble endeavours that help us grow as a society. I wish the organization all the best for all such endeavours, in general , and this campaign in particular.
—The author is a Master’s student of Economics at Jamia Millia, Islamia and can be reached at: [email protected]