Declining Presence of Indian Language Publications at World Book Fair

Day 3 of the World Book Fair

Day 3 of the New Delhi World Book Fair 2016

New Delhi: A comparative study on the the participation of Indian language publishers at the World Book Fair over last four years shows that not much effort is being made to include Indian publishers in the event.

The Media Studies Group (MSG), which has conducted the study titled ‘Onslaught increasing on publications and Indian languages in World Book Fair: A Study’, said that “the growing vulnerability of Hindi and Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule of constitution demands a serious and detailed language discourse. Besides, failure of publications in catering the tastes of readers has virtually pushed the industry on a sticky wicket.”

The World Book Fair is organised by the National Book Trust in an attempt to encourage the reading of indigenous Indian languages. MSG’s study sought to accurately assess the presence of Indian indigenous languages at the World Book Fair. The study will be in the new issue of Jan Media, a monthly media research journal.

According to MSG, at the 2013 book fair, the number of Hindi publishers as compared to English publishers was almost half. In 2013, there were 1098 publishers who participated, of which three were Assamese, five Bangla, 643 English, two Gujarati, 323 Hindi, one Kashmiri, one Maithili, 12 Malayalam, two Marathi, one Oriya, six Punjabi, 18 Sanskrit, five Tamil, two Telugu, 44 Urdu and 30 foreign participants.

In 2014, the number of publishers went down to 1027, with a decrease in the number of Indian languages included as well. This also occurred in the subsequent years. In 2016, the number of publishers dropped to 850 with no Kashmiri, Telegu and Maithili publications included.

Efforts were made to change the decline in the number of Indian language publications but this was not reflected at the 2017 book fair – instead there was an even further decline with Assamese also disappearing from the shelves, and no improvement in the status of Kashmiri and Maithili publications. However, there was a slight improvement in the number of Sindhi and Sanskrit publications – three publications each at the 2017 event. MSG’s study also shows that Urdu’s presence is rapidly declining, reduced by 70% since 2013.

MSG adds that the declining participation over the last few book fairs shows the “poor condition of publishers in Indian languages”.

“There is a dearth of publications that can trigger intellectual discourse through their original works and sadly this situation is expanding further,” MSG says. 

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