LAST Friday I visited the Ekushey Book Fair at the Bangla Academy. I found people were going inside the fair after standing for a long time in queue.
The law enforcers ensured proper discipline. The atmosphere was highly inspiring and one of enthusiasm -- the same sort of enthusiasm with which people go to the fair every year.
The Amar Ekushey Granthomela (Immortal Ekushey Book Fair) is indeed a bright spot in our cultural landscape. Not only books are sold and published, we also enjoy month long cultural events during the fair.
Inaugurating the fair Prime Minister Khaleda Zia urged countrymen to develop the habit of reading books and to give books as gifts on different occasions.
The PM's suggestion essentially aims at making fellow Bangladeshis a book-reading people and at having a book-reading culture in the country firmly established. The rewards of such a culture should be obvious. A book-reading people can be expected to be sound, based in their thoughts and actions, and hold noble values.
The inculcation of a book-reading habit by the people, specially the children or teenagers is greatly needed because under the impact of the TV and the Internet so many of them are giving up reading books.
But reading is highly important to create a knowledge-based society. While there is nothing wrong with limited exposure to the audio-visual media, there is never any substitutes to books when it comes to the question of full enlightenment and development of clear conceptions on different subjects and issues, which is essential for broadening of the mental horizon. A friend of mine recently came from the USA. He says the schools there are taking up elaborate programmes involving both students and parents to raise the habit of reading books and magazines. can't we also think in the same way?