Fair is full, full is fair

Muham­mad Yusuf re­ports on some play­ers and ac­tiv­i­ties at this year’s Shar­jah In­ter­na­tional Book Fair

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One of the big guns which are show­cas­ing its works at the cur­rent Shar­jah In­ter­na­tional Book Fair (SIBF, Oct. 31 – Nov. 10) is Na­tional Book Trust (NBT), In­dia. NBT is an apex body es­tab­lished by the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia in 1957. Its re­mit is “to pro­duce and en­cour­age the pro­duc­tion of good lit­er­a­ture in English, Hindi and other In­dian lan­guages and to make such lit­er­a­ture avail­able at moder­ate prices to the pub­lic and to bring out book cat­a­logues, ar­range book fairs/ex­hi­bi­tions and sem­i­nars and take all nec­es­sary steps to make the peo­ple book minded”.

A reg­u­lar vis­i­tor at SIBF, this time the NB T lag is held by Ku­mar Vikram, Ed­i­tor (English), Project In­charge, Re­search & In­no­va­tion and Mo­hammed Im­ranul Haque, Dy. Di­rec­tor (Ex­hi­bi­tion).

“We work at many lev­els”, said Vikram, in­d­ing time from at­tend­ing to pushy cus­tomers, cu­ri­ous school kids, lazy wan­der­ers and oth­ers, to speak to Time Out. “We have or­gan­ised a col­lec­tive ex­hibit of In­dian books”.

NBT has brought 300 ti­tles and 30 pub­lish­ers. “The fo­cus”, said Vikram, “is on Ma­hatma Gandhi. This year we are cel­e­brat­ing his 150th birth an­niver­sary”.

He pointed out that 25 pub­lish­ers have ar­rived at SIBF through the good ofices of NBT, as a re­sult of its mov­ing its lever­age with and links to Shar­jah Book Au­thor­ity, the or­gan­is­ing body of the fair.

“The year 2019”, he said, “is very im­por­tant in the book world, es­pe­cially re­lat­ing to Indo-UAE pub­lish­ing ties. When In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi was in the UAE in Fe­bru­ary, a joint state­ment was an­nounced where Shar­jah was cho­sen as the Guest of Hon­our at the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF, Jan. 5 – 13) in In­dia.

“And to add cream to the cake, In­dia will be the Guest of Hon­our in April 2019 dur­ing the Abu Dhabi Book Fair”. Vikram also noted that Shar­jah has been for long a par­tic­i­pant at NDWBF.

Ac­cord­ing to him – are there many who can ques­tion this? – there is lit­tle or no per­cep­tion of Shar­jah and the UAE in In­dia vis-à-vis the lit­er­ary scene and knowl­edge of ma­jor au­thors. “This can be a point of en­gage­ment and dis­cus­sion”, he said.

Given this con­di­tion, he in­sisted that Emi­rati names have to be made well known in In­dian lit­er­ary and other cir­cles. “Young writ­ers and women writ­ers, es­pe­cially, have to be pro­moted”, he said.

He said that Shar­jah would be com­ing with a large del­e­ga­tion to the book fair in New Delhi next year. Emi­rates Pub­lish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion will be host­ing 25 – 30 pub­lish­ers.

Shar­jah will de­liver the key­note ad­dress and there will be other pre­sen­ta­tions. It will also take part in the ‘CEO Speak’ fo­rum, where head hon­chos of the In­dian pub­lish­ing in­dus­try will par­tic­i­pate. The emi­rate will also take the op­por­tu­nity to show­case its cul­ture and tourism.

“We have just had a meet­ing with In­dian pub­lish­ers where we took in­puts and sug­ges­tions for the Abu Dhabi Book Fair”, Vikram said. “We will be as­so­ci­at­ing the In­dian com­mu­nity, pub­lish­ers, cul­ture work­ers and pro­fes­sion­als on one plat­form”.

Among other things NBT dis­cussed at SIBF: copy­right sales and trans­la­tion of books on Gandhi into Ara­bic in the UAE.

In 2017, NBT ob­served the 60th year of its foun­da­tion. The oc­ca­sion was marked by a spe­cial ex­hibit show­cas­ing its ef­forts pro­mot­ing the Cul­ture of Read­ing at the NDWBF.

As the nodal agency for the pro­mo­tion of books overseas, NBT has par­tic­i­pated in many in­ter­na­tional book fairs. Since 1970, it has taken part in fairs in Frank­furt, Bologna, Shar­jah, Abu Dhabi, Bei­jing, Colombo, Tokyo, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Sin­ga­pore, Nige­ria, War­saw, Kath­mandu, Lon­don, Dhaka and Jakarta, among other places.

Held an­nu­ally, NDWBF at­tracts over 1,000 ex­hibitors not only from across In­dia but also ma­jor in­ter­na­tional pub­lish­ing houses of the world. It is the largest book fair in the AfroAsian re­gion, host­ing many lit­er­ary and pub­lish­ing con­fer­ences and emerg­ing new voices in In­dian writ­ing. It also con­ducts spe­cial pro­grammes for chil­dren and youth.

Su­nil Ku­mar, Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Capexil (spon­sored by the Min­istry of Com­merce & In­dus­try, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia), said that the body “acts strongly for the pro­mo­tion of the In­dian pub­lish­ing and print­ing in­dus­try in the world mar­ket. We try to set stan­dards and best prac­tices”.

Capexil is a non-profit mak­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion, set up in 1958 to pro­mote the ex­port of chem­i­cal and al­lied prod­ucts from In­dia. Since then, it has been the voice of the In­dian busi­ness com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially ex­porters.

Head­quar­tered in Kolkata and with re­gional of­fices at New Delhi, Mum­bai, Kolkata and Chen­nai, it has over 5,000 mem­bers across the coun­try. Its pri­mary fo­cus is to pro­vide ex­port as­sis­tance to its mem­ber ex­porters. It show­cases In­dian ex­ports all over the world through ex­hi­bi­tions and fairs.

It is plan­ning to or­gan­ise a buy­erseller meet at SIBF 2019 to beneit the In­dian pub­lish­ing in­dus­try. In 2018, US$12.85 mil­lion worth of books, publi­ca­tions and other printed ma­te­rial has been ex­ported from In­dia to the UAE. Capexil has also sug­gested that a “busi­ness bay” be es­tab­lished to serve as a per­ma­nent base for the Indo-UAE pub­lish­ing in­dus­try.

Capexil Book Di­vi­sion has brought 20 pub­lish­ers for the SIBF as par­tic­i­pants. “We strive al­ways to cre­ate more ex­ports for In­dia”, Ku­mar said.

Con­tented cus­tomers at SIBF 2018.

Ku­mar Vikram (left), Mo­hammed Im­ranul Haque and Su­nil Ku­mar at the NBT stall.

A scene from New Delhi World Book Fair.

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