New Delhi: Human Resource Minister Smriti Irani on Saturday inaugurated the 43rd edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair which commenced here with China as the guest of honour country and a theme presentation of the cultural heritage of India.
The nine-day fair, touted as the largest in Asia, is hosting about 30 countries in which a series of programmes including panel discussions, dramas, classical and folk dances, workshops, discussions, authors' meets, conferences, seminars and cultural programmes will be held.
Talking about the Chinese participation, Irani said, "I believe that 50 publishing houses and 9 eminent authors bring with them to this World Book Fair around 5,000 titles so that through this exchange our people across both nations can be enriched."
China was invited to be the guest country after the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping here last year where he signed a memorandum of understanding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"During the visit of President Xi Jinpeng an MoU was signed with China's role in WBF and I am happy to note that promise that we made through paper has fructified in person," the minister said.
Referring to the growth of publishing business in both the countries the minister said, "Today we celebrate the exponential growth of the publishing business both in India and China."
Emphasising on the importance of publishing exchanges between China and India, Sun Shoushan, Vice Minister SAPPRFT said, "As one of the key international book fairs the NDWBF has set up an important platform for cultural exchanges of Indian classic and contemporary works which is now going on smoothly."
"The important publishing exchanges between China and India have played an important role in cementing the friendship between people and promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries," he said.
This year the fair has introduced a special 'Navlekhan' programme which seeks to promote and publish young authors under the age of 40 writing in Indian languages.
Referring to the same Irani said, while this year they are being published in 6 regional languages by next year she assured that books in 22 languages recognised by the Constitution of India will be published.
Tickets to the fair, which is being held at the sprawling Pragati Maidan, will be priced at Rs 20 and sold from 9 AM till 5 PM at 47 stations of the Delhi Metro network from January 9-17. Schoolchildren and disabled are permitted free entry.
"I am happy to know that this WBF gives free invite and entry to children in school uniform, senior citizens and physically challenged," Irani said.
The minister also spoke about the upcoming event 'Shodh Yatra' where within the span of a year school children from India will visit Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmara and Cambodia in the company of eminent litterateurs and photographers from Assam, Manipur, Odisha, Punjab, and Kerala.
"These children have been selected from Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala. They will represent this entire journey called 'Shodh Yatra' through the medium of photographs and books and will contribute it to the nation," she said.
Meanwhile, over 1,000 books in different Indian languages, ranging from philosophy, language to literature will be showcased in the theme pavilion whose theme programme is titled 'Vividh Bharat'.
Efforts have been made to show the journey of books from the palm leaves stage to the electronic era, besides featuring some of the most new and exciting writings that have appeared across the world.
Over 100 CEOs of various publishing houses and organisations in the book trade will come together to share and exchange ideas about Indian and international book trade.
A special children's Pavilion offers various activities like drawing competitions, storytelling sessions, skits, meet your favourite authors, discussions, etc.
The pavilion also showcases some of the best of recent publications for children from across the country.
Other attractions include a selfie corner for photobuffs to click pictures and upload on social networks. Books comprise the main part of the China pavilion, which is spread over 1200 square kilometeres at the Hall no 7 of Pragati Maidan.
The highlights of the China pavilion include display of traditional Chinese garden style, showcase of paper making, publishing and printing in ancient China, a daily live show of wood block printing and a china tea cultural show.
Twenty-four illustration works by prize winning young Chinese artists will be on display.
Cultural exchanges between the two countries will be showcased in an India-China cultural contacts photo exhibition of over 150 photos.
The pavilion also hosts over 300 Chinese original illustrations for children exhibition.