Today, 23rd April, is being celebrated as the World Book Day, as per the call of the UNESCO. The decision was taken by the United Nations body in 1995, in homage to many stalwarts in the field of literature. The first and foremost is that April 23 is both the birth and death anniversary of the great poet William Shakespeare. Along with it is the birth / death anniversary of
Miguel de Cervantes, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Josep Pla, Maurice Druon, Manuel Mejía Vallejo and Halldór Laxness.
Book reading is an important part of the growth of any individual. Almost all the great leaders of the world were/are great book leaders also. By the books read by a person, he can be understood. There are crores and crores of books written and published, but only few remain evergreen and are read through centuries. Those books have influenced the lives of many.
I remember now about one library I have visited while I was at Hyderabad. It is the Com. P.Sundarayya Memorial Library at the CPI(M) Party Office. The library is small compared to many other libraries. But the speciality is something else. Out of the total books, I was told that about 50,000 books are from the personal collection of Com. P.Sundarayya himself and another about 35,000 from the collection of Com. Basavapunnaiah, another senior leader of CPI(M). Both were PB Members of the CPI(M) and the former was also the General Secretary of the CPI(M). In most of these books you can see some notes made by these leaders. I was surprised at the large number of books read by these stalwarts.
The late Com.P.Govinda Pillai, senior leader of CPI(M) in Kerala was a writer, who was a wide range reader. Whenever on tour, or in fact at any time, you can find two or three big books with him carried in a bag, which is to be read, whenever opportunity comes.
You cannot compare Com. EMS Namboodiripad with anybody else. As another leader said, Com.EMS was a human computer. His reading was vast and covered almost everything in the realms of books and remembered them and utilised them for the benefit of the people and the party.
There are many more and will be many more. Libraries are opened and maintained for the benefit of book reading for all. Many poor students, who could not purchase costly books have been the beneficiaries of the libraries. The left movement in Kerala has been one of the reasons for the large number of libraries in Kerala.
Reading is learning and is power. In the new technology era, the importance of printed books may go down a little. Still the books will continue to influence the people for a very long time.
Lakhs of priceless and very important books on history, literature etc. have been taken away from India during the British rule and are kept at London Library. It is time that the Government of India demanded that these books be returned to India.
One recent news. The Oxford Dictionary is not going to be printed after the present one in printing is published. This new Dictionary is in 40 Volumes. The Publishers state that it will not be possible in future to print the same since it may go to many more volumes. Instead it will be e-dictionary.It is just like the disappearance of the Telephone Directory in the country.