New Delhi: With only a couple of days left for the 40th international book fair, publishers from Pakistan are yet to get visas to participate in the week-long event here, even as organisers said they have provided all necessary clearance.
Beginning on February 4, the World Book Fair 2013, being held for the past 40 years and now a major calender event in the publishing world, is set to showcase 1,100 Indian and foreign publishers from countries like Pakistan, Iran, Nepal, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK, South Korea, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
"A team of around 15 people from six publishing houses in Pakistan had been finalised to participate in the Fair and had booked a total of six stalls out of the total 201 stalls at the Fair," National Book Trust, Director, M A Sikandar said.
"We are now looking at the Indian High Commission in Pakistan for issue of visas," he said.
The development comes in the wake of recent chill between the two neighbours following tension along the Line of Control.
"I would request both the countries that initiatives like this should be taken seriously and every time there are participants from Pakistan...And it is fruitful for both the countries," Sikandar said.
Co-organised by India Trade Promotion Organisation, the Fair had last year attracted about 1,300 Indian exhibitors and 30 foreign exhibitors.
"They (publishers from Pakistan) take a lot of Indian books along with them. This literature link between the two countries should be encouraged. When other countries are participating, Pakistan is our neighbour and they should also participate. This platform is not a commercial platform," Sikandar said.
However, another NBT official sought to play down the issue saying that the visa clearance to Pakistan publishers participating in the Fair, may be issued late
This year the theme of the New Delhi World Book Fair, is "Indigenous Voices Mapping India`s Folk and Tribal Literature" is offering new initiatives to not only promote reading but also offer a business platform to authors and publishers.
The Fair is also providing other host of opportunities to look out for.
"Starting this year we have decided to make the Fair an annual event to promote reading and interaction with authors and also provide a business platform to publishers and authors," NBT Chairman A Sethumadhavan.
The guest of honour country at the Fair, France is sending a strong delegation of authors, writers, publishers and scholars.
The delegation will engage in discussions, conversations and business sessions at the Fair, which is also set to exhibit cultural heritage of France through various cultural programmes, including screening of a French film.
"This is part of France`s program in India called Bonjour India, which is going to be interactive and entertaining," Sikandar said.
Besides, a special pavilion will also be put up at the Fair to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. The pavilion will showcase original photographs and life of Vivekananda besides books on the philosopher.
Organisers have planned an `Author`s Corner` where celebrity authors and literary personalities will interact with the audience. Some 50 to 60 book releases, book discussions and other literary activities are planned during the seven-day event.
Initiatives to attract children and youth are also being organised at the Book Fair. NBT has tied up with the Delhi College of Art for a collective exhibition of Book Art installations.
"We have also decided to have business hours from the morning for first two days till 1 PM. These hours the Fair will only be open to those for business purpose and to college and school students," the NBT Director said.
The book fair will also see the New Delhi Rights Table for the first time on February 2-3.
The event will see sessions in which publishers, writers, agents, translators and editors from India and abroad will tentatively finalise their interests and agreements for transfer of translations and other subsidiary rights of books available in English, Hindi and other regional languages.