Chennai: “We are ready to send our well-equipped Tamil teachers to any part of the world to propagate and teach our mother language. Our recent initiative to start a 15-day Tamil language crash course for 60 Canadians here in Chennai is one among such initiatives,” said Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan.
He said this during the inauguration of the 41st book fair of the Booksellers’ and Publishers’ Association of South India (BAPASI) at the premises of St George’s School here on Wednesday.
Relating the government’s efforts in uplifting Tamil with this book fair, he said, “A language can be safeguarded only through speaking, writing and dramatising. So, books play a vital role in strengthening our hold on our mother tongue. That’s the reason highly intellectual philosophers have greatly depended on libraries and book fairs like this. I appreciate BAPASI’s efforts in the last four decades. This long stint is not an easy task.”
Explaining how books helped create great leaders in his party, the Minister said, “Right from Periyar all the way up to Jayalalithaa, all our great leaders sharpened their skills through books. For example, Periyar and Annadurai heavily depended on our age old Connemara library. In fact, Anna spent more time in the library than anywhere else. When late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa introduced us to her world of books, we were surprised. Then we came to understand how she spoke fluently in six languages.”
Minister Sengottaiyan also listed his contributions in this area. “Since the last seven years, we have fully computerised 199 libraries in the State. The remaining 123 libraries will be computerised soon. Our government recently sanctioned Rs 2 crore for this. No one would have forgotten how the famous Jaffna Public Library was burned down by Sinhala extremists. To mitigate that great loss, our government has handed over 5,000 copies of the recovered abstracts from that library to the Tamil refugees here from Sri Lanka.”
Industrialist and philanthropist Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, one of the guests, said, “Almost 40 years have gone in a flash. I have participated in all versions of this fair without fail. I used to visit almost all stalls and buy as many books as I can. Regarding government’s support for this fair, I extend by appreciation to Minister Sengottaiyan for making his presence felt. He is an active leader and the reason for many transformations in the State’s Education Department.”
Earlier, explaining the features of the fair, BAPASI president S Vairavan said, “The fair will take place between 10 and 22 January. There are a lot of new features this year. The first one is the introduction of a robot. It has been placed at the entrance and welcomes the visitors who can shake hands with it; it interacts and got to know the details of publishers they need and their stall numbers. Secondly, tomorrow, a Thiruvalluvar statue will be unveiled on the premises in the presence of Culture Minister Pandiarajan and V G Santhanam. The statue will be opened to create awareness about Thirukkural among visitors.”
“Every day, there will be new events taking place right from textual renderings to musical performances on stage. The highlight, though, will be the availability of over 10,000 new books from top publishers. For all purchases made at the stalls, visitors will get a Rs 500 MGM coupon free. Ten per cent discount from MRP is assured for all books purchased at the fair. In addition, people will get up to 50 per cent discount on select books. An entry fee of Rs 10 will be charged for the fair but there will be no entry fee for children below 12 years of age. In order to facilitate the participation of schoolchildren, over 6 lakh tickets have been issued to school managements,” he added.
On weekdays, the fair timings will be between 2 and 9 pm and on holidays, it will be between 11 am and 9 pm.
Businessman M A M R Muthiah, MP Vijayakumar and members of BAPASI were present during the event.
NO PARKING PROBLEMS
Listing out other features of the fair, BAPASI president Vairavan said, “We have made arrangements to park over 4,000 two-wheelers and over 3,000 four-wheelers on the fair premises and at Pachaiyappa’s College. In addition, fire tenders and 108 ambulances have been made available to help in case of emergencies. Provisions for drinking water, food stalls, restrooms and a mobile ATM from City Union Bank are also in place.”