“This year the theme of the New Delhi World Book Fair is Books for Readers with Special Needs,” announced Prof. Baldeo Bhai Sharma, Chairman, NBT while addressing the media at a Press Conference held at Constitution Club, New Delhi on 3 January 2019. In the Fair nearly 700 publishers are participating and more than 1300 stalls will be put up.  

Shri Prakash Javadekar, Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development, Government of India will inaugurate the Fair at Hamsadhwani Theatre, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi on 5th January 2019 at 11.00 am. H.E. Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, Sharjah is the Chief Guest. Mr Ahmad bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman, Sharjah Book Authority is the Guest of Honour.  Shri J L Kaul, Padma Shri awardee and Secretary General, All India Confederation  of the Blind; and Mr Habib Youseff Abdallah Al Sayegh, Authors’ representative from Sharjah will be special guests on the occasion.  Prof.  Baldeo Bhai Sharma, Chairman, NBT; Shri L C Goyal, IAS, Chairman & Managing Director, ITPO and Dr Rita Chowdhury, Director, NBT will also speak on the occasion.

The Theme presentation of New Delhi World Book Fair 2019 brings to light the life and struggles, the trials and triumphs, joy and despair of a very significant part of human society who are called differently-abled or the Divyangjan. The Theme focuses on the reading needs of the Readers with Special Needs. The idea is to project the aspirations as well as the achievements of this special community in order to develop a better understanding about them among the people at large.

Talking about the special features of the theme pavilion, Chairman said that the pavilion is disabled friendly and there will be steel railings, wheel chairs as well as sign interpreters at the Pavilion. Besides, there will be a special exhibition of books including 250 Braille books published  by NBT, an exhibition of digital accessibility tools for persons with special needs, an experience booth by Microsoft; and UNESCO and United Nations India – supported International We Care Film Festival on Disability showcasing 45 films from 27 countries everyday from 2-4 pm. On the occasion a calendar on the theme ‘Towards Inclusive Learning’ which includes still images from the documentaries based on the disability, has been brought out. Besides, a special painting of ancient Indian saint ‘Ashtavakra’ will be displayed.

He further informed that Sharjah is the Guest of Honour. It may be recalled that Sharjah was designated as Guest of Honour under an India-UAE Joint Statement released during the visit of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India last year.  The Chairman informed that a 100 + strong Sharjah delegation consisting of officials, authors, publishers, artists is visiting India for the Fair. The delegation is led by H.E. Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi and comprises of senior dignitaries such as Mr. Ahmad bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman, Sharjah Book Authority.  

Later addressing the media persons, Ms Khoula Al Mujaini, a delegate from the Sharjah team, informed that Sharjah International Book Fair is the third largest book fair in the world which promotes culture and knowledge. She said that the Sharjah delegation consists of more than 150 members including about ten Emirati authors who will share their writings with the booklovers. Programmes such as poetry sessions, panel discussions, children activities, etc. will be organised during the Fair. A special attraction has been added to the Fair –Shows of Emirate Folk Bands—to give a glimpse of the rich culture of Sharjah. These band performances will be organised at various sites in Delhi viz. Qutub Minar, India Gate, Connaught Place; Taj Mahal, Agra; and also at the premises of the Fair.

Earlier, the Chairman, NBT also informed that several literary and cultural programmes will be organized at the Pavilion where renowned authors like Mridula SInha, Prem Janmejay, noted artists Sonal Mansingh, Malini Awasthi, Bant Singh Jhabbar, paralympians  like Rajinder Singh (Arjun awardee), Manpreet Kaur, Parvinder Singh, Swarna Raj, among others will participate. He hoped like previous years, this year also large number of visitors will turn up.

Prof. Sharma also appreciated the fact that though there is limited space at ITPO due to ongoing construction work, publishers have supported NBT to organize the Fair. He also informed that Sharjah is the Guest of Honour at the Fair.

Shri Deepak Kumar, Executive Director, ITPO also spoke on the occasion. He announced that the price of tickets have been reduced. This year, the tickets will be for Rs.10/- and Rs.20/-. There will be free entry for children below 14 years, senior citizens and the differently-abled. Dr Rita Chowdhury, Director, NBT and Shri Manoj Kejriwal, Joint Secretary, MHRD were also present on the occasion.