Projecting Gandhiji’s Life and Philosophy at New Delhi World Book Fair 2020

The theme of the New Delhi World Book Fair 2020 is ‘Gandhi: The Writers’ Writer’ to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was a prolific writer, editor, publisher, Printer and Institution Builder. The theme is an attempt to give booklovers a glimpse of how Mahatma Gandhi, a great strategic communicator, inspired and influenced generations of writers and how the writers understood and emulated Gandhiji in words. In the specially designed pavilion (inspired by Sabarmati Ashram), with hand-spun materials as wall cladding; there is an exclusive exhibition of 500 books of 100 publishers on and by Gandhi in different Indian languages, as well as 30 panel discussions, book launches and performances related to the theme. The archival materials on display at the Theme pavilion are from Navjivan Trust, Ahmedabad and National Gandhi Museum, New Delhi. The Pavilion has been designed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.

Focusing on the fascinating aspect of Gandhi as a communicator par excellence, the Theme Programme, Gandhi: The Writers’ Writer, at the Theme Pavilion, gave the visitors a glimpse into craft of Gandhi’s writings and clarity with which he said what he had to say. As Gandhi himself would say, “I propagate my ideas.” Gandhiji was a prolific writer. His writings are collected in 100 volumes. These include the articles he wrote for Harijan, Young India, Indian Opinion among others. Besides Indian Home Rule, Satyagraha in South Africa, his booklet on Hind Swaraj, His autobiography and the numerous letters he wrote to and exchanged with personalities of his times like Leo Tolstoy, Nehru, Patel, Tilak, Ambedkar, Sarojini Naidu, Hitler and Tagore, shows the diversity of his thoughts.

As an Editor and Publisher, Gandhi was meticulous both in the choice of language and words. Facsimiles at the Pavilion, display an edited page of Hind Swaraj and his awareness on the issues of copyright, examples of his letter to Leo Tolstoy and Annie Besant. Some of the panels display Gandhi as a thinker and a reformer as well. The Theme Pavilion also displays a special exhibit of books on and by Gandhi as well as a replica of the Charkha.  

Programmes at Theme Pavilion

A panel discussion on ‘Building Peace and Harmony in a Diverse Culture’ was organized. Moderated by Prof. N Radhakrishanan, the other speakers on the occasion included Dr T Ravichandran, Dr M William Bhaskaran and Dr M Valliammal. The speakers shared their views on Mahatma Gandhi’s efforts in creating peace and harmony. Talking about the various methods used by Gandhi, Dr T Ravichandan said that Gandhi through his pad-yatras and fasting, united people and tried to create harmony between them. Prof.  Radhakrishanan talked about Gandhiji’s philosophy of respecting all religions for the survival of humanity.

As part of 550 Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary celebrations, a discussion on the writings and teachings of Guru Nanak was organized at the Theme Pavilion. The speakers shared their views on how humanism, dialogue among people, etc were an integral part of Guru Nanak Dev’s writings and teachings. The speakers included Dr Lakhwinder Johal, Jaswant Zafar and Deepak Sharma. Later, two books titled Antonio Gramsci: Jeevan Te Rachna and Sukhwinder Amrit Kavya Jagat were released. The programme was organized by National Book Trust, India and Punjabi Sahitya Akademi.

Seminar Hall

A panel discussion on ‘Gandhi’s Message on Cleanliness’ was organised by Delhi Public Library at the Seminar Hall. The speakers talked about the role of Mahatma Gandhi in creating awareness among people about cleanliness. On this occasion, Shri Vishwanath Pandey said that Mahatma Gandhi is known for his non-violent protests and marches against the British, but rarely remembered for the cleanliness in our country. Talking about Gandhi’s thoughts about cleanliness, Dr Neeraj Bharadwaj said that Mahatma Gandhi not only advocated cleanliness of the surroundings, but also talked about the purity of soul. The other panelists on this occasion included Dr. Ramsharan Gaur, Chairman, Delhi Public Library; Dr Babita Gaur, Senior Library Information Officer; and Shri Sita Ram Gupta.

A workshop on ‘Be Happy and Empowered’ was organised by Sawan Kripal Ruhani Mission at the Seminar Hall. The workshop conducted by Sheena and Nitin Demla. In this interactive session, the speakers were of the view that the problems in our lives can be solved through the medium of meditation only.

Children’s Pavilion

An activity-based session was organized by Jaago Teens at the Children’s Pavilion. During the session, several images like an image of a girl, a tree and thunderstorm were displayed on the projector and then children were asked to write stories on these images. A large number of children from Butterfly, an NGO and Suraj Bhan DAV Public School participated in the programme.

In another session, children from Jai Shankar Memorial Center performed three plays based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Later, a storytelling session was organized by National Book Trust, India where well-known storytellers Sushma Yadhuvanshi, Asha Sharma and Shiv Mohan Yadav narrated stories to children.

A panel discussion on ‘Children’s Literature Goes Digital,’ was organised by Worldreader. The session began with storytelling by Vinita Pandey. The speakers discussed about how the books are being developed digitally and ebooks being available on various apps. With books being available digitally, it is now much easier to access them anywhere and anytime the child wants, or in case a parent wants to read to them. The speakers on the occasion included Shri Himanshu Giri, Pratham Books; Bhanu Potta, Worldreader; Ganesh Subramanian, Chrysalis; Nikhil Saraf, Stones2Milestones and Vinita Pandey, Book Talk.

 Author’s Corner

A discussion on Pedagogy of Synthetic Phonics was organised by SAAR Education Pvt. Ltd. at Author’s Corner, Hall No. 8. Abhishek Goel, motivational speaker interacted with the audience on English language. He explained that English language has certain rules for writing and pronunciation. According to him, in India, children follow the wrong pronunciation that their teachers use, as children, being young, grasp everything from their elders. Later, he talked about the ways through which the language can be learnt easily.

A discussion on publishing in India was organized by Best Book Buddies at the Author’s Corner, Hall no. 8. The discussion focused on the future of publishing in India for new authors. While interacting with the visitors, Sudhir Gandotra, CEO of BestBookBuddies, said that established authors do not face the problems that new and young authors face in publishing. The speakers also discussed the need to provide platform to young authors, communicate with them, publish their books and help them connect with readers. Ms Anjana Ranjan and Rahul Shivay also spoke on the occasion.

Later, a reading session on the book NH 24, was organised by Yellow Coin Communications Pvt. Ltd. The author of the book, Nitin Yadav said that his book is based on real life stories and highlights sensitive issues concerning our society like child molestation, violence on women, etc. He was of the view that if these problems will not be discussed, there is no scope of eliminating them as well. Nitin Yadav also read out some excerpts from his book to the audience.

Lekhak Manch

A discussion on the book Amit Shah and The March of BJP was organized by Bloomsbury. The book has also been published in Hindi entitled Amit Shah Aur Bhajpa Ki Yatra. During the session, Anurag Punetha, well-known journalist interacted with the author of the book, Anirban Ganguly and Shivanand Dwivedi.

Shivanand Dwivedi said that Amit Shah’s association with the BJP is not only from the days of its achievements but from the days of the party’s struggle. Anirban Ganguly called Amit Shah a disciplinarian among the party, workers, leaders etc. and a communicator within and outside the party.

As part of World Hindi Day celebrations, a poets’ meet was organized by Nagri Hindi Parishad and Hindi Ki Gunj at the Lekhak Manch. The poets enthralled the booklovers when they recited poems on patriotism, women, freedom fighters, culture, city and village life, etc. The guests present on the occasion included Onkar Singh, Dr Vinod Chauhan, Dr naresh, Dr Sandeep, Kavi Prateek, Kavi Hemant, Khemdra Singh among others.

An interactive talk with Ms Chitra Mudgal, noted author was organized by Samayik Prakashana at the Lekhak Manch. Ms Mudgal talked about different aspects of her journey as an author. She said that she had been inspired a lot by Premchand and Gorky. At a function organized by Diamond Pocket Books, a number of books including Urdu Ke Nau Maharathi, by Rinkle Sharma and Nishan Chunte Chunte by Vivek Mishra were released. The guests on the occasion included Javed Akhtar, Gulzar Munnavar Rana, Amarnath Verma, Dr Khursheed Alam, Ashok Wankhade, among others. In another function organized by Prabhat Prakashan, the book Deendayal Upadhayay Ki Prerak kahaniyan and its English translation were released. The guests on the occasion were Ms Renu Saini, Hitesh Shankar, Prabhat Kumar among others.