The National Book Trust (NBT), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, is planning to host book fairs at the panchayat level to encourage the reading habit in
The NBT is set to launch an ambitious scheme called the Panchayat Pustak Mela (Panchayat Book Fair), whose aim would be to organise regular book fairs in rural areas across the country. A senior official told The Hindu that, for starters, the NBT may test the waters with a book fair across the panchayat bodies in Maoistaffected Chhattisgarh.
The NBT recently brought out eight books in dialects used in the Bastar region of the State, in Devnagri script. In other words, it already has a body of literature that is likely to connect with the rural audience of the region.
‘At a time when the State faces a serious militancy threat, books—especially ones that are close to the people of the region, and inspirational works on national themes—can help align the adivasis there with the mainstream,’ the official said, when asked about plans to kick-start the process from Chhattisgarh.
‘We will showcase books published by the NBT in regional languages, in Hindi, and English, at these book fairs,’ the official said. The NBT will look to collaborate with state governments for this scheme, and also invite Panchayat representatives to these book fairs. The books on display would showcase the lives of freedom fighters and ‘heroes’, as the aim is to instil a sense of pride among rural youth, the official said. Children’s books would also be on display. The NBT will also request the State governments to provide libraries at the panchayat level.
The Trust has in recent times been looking to publish in ‘small languages’ and dialects. Last year, it organised a workshop on the Kokborok language of Tripura. It has also brought out books on Mahatma Gandhi and on children’s themes in Maithili, Magahi and Bhojpuri—all spoken in Bihar—in Devnagri script.

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