By: Mannan Samad
That “books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything” is unquestionably true. But it is said that reading culture is gradually declining in the digital era. With the rapid rise of technological innovations and gadgets, interest in buying books has dropped to an alarmingly low level.
But the misconception that the book reading culture is diminishing in the era of social media was debunked at the just-finished three-day book fairs at the Atta Shad Literary Festival, which Balochistan Academy Turbat hosted from February 13 to 15. Students, poets, writers, artists, politicians, and members of civil society from all walks of life attended the Atta Shad Literary Festival in large numbers.
The participants also showed great interest in the three-day fairs that were a component of the festival so that they could purchase their favourite books. Twenty-seven bookstalls were set up by numerous local and national publishers. In the stalls, there were plenty of books about politics, philosophy, literature, history, religion, and other topics. According to the bookstallers, 35 lakh books have been sold during these three days as a whole.
The founder of National Book House, Abdul Gaffar, said that Balochistan’s most literate district, Kech, continued to maintain a vibrant reading culture. “Reading is becoming more popular in Kech. The natives of Kech have responded overwhelmingly well, buying thousands of volumes on politics, philosophy, literature, history, religion, and other topics,” he remarked.
Irshad Perwaz, a renowned poet, commented that Kech is a centre for learning and literature. “The inhabitants of Kech are literary and scholarly people. They become thirsty without the fragrance of books,” he remarked. He argued that the natives of Kech are always craving knowledge and literature. “If we have a glance, one can witness that no bookstall is empty, and it is a testament to this fact,” he added.
According to renowned educationist Barkat Ismail Baloch, great thoughts, creativity, and imagination come from reading great books. “The indigenous people of Kech are veracious readers; thus, books are extensively sold and read here,” he commented. He made the case that reading broadens our minds and enriches our ideas. “Reading five thousand books generates five thousand minds,” he argued.
Deputy Commissioner Kech Bashir Ahmed Barech stated that the district’s literary, educational, and intellectual advancement has been profoundly influenced by the reading culture there. “The dwellers of Kech are voracious readers, and their deep love for books can’t be measured,” he remarked. Barech emphasised the value of reading, contending that no nation could ever advance if it failed to develop a love of reading in its people.
Published in The Balochistan Point on February 22, 2023