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Book fairs and goons

25 September 2012 06:30 pm - 5     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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As usual I went to the Colombo Book Fair this time. Characteristically the place was packed with book lovers and all sorts of lovers. The organizers had done a great job and I was able to find a number of books that I was looking for, for some time.

But the thing that struck me was the sheer number of people who came to the BMICH premises to buy books. Though I have no official data, I figure more than 20,000 people visited the book fair per  day.

Sri Lanka has the highest literacy rate in Asia and probably is amongst the top 10 of the world in terms of people’s ability to read and write. So, one would say there is nothing surprising to see such large crowds at the Colombo Book Fair.

The main objective of reading a book is to widen one’s horizons of intelligence and of course for entertainment, except the school text books I guess. Books broaden our points of view and we become more civilized to be worthy of the term ‘human’.

But unfortunately the Colombo Book Fair has not been able to achieve such profound ideals. Evidently, the fault is not with the organizers of the Book Fair but with the socio-political culture we unfortunately live in.

We live in a society where public opinion is not worth a hill of beans to the rich and the mighty that run the country, and lawlessness is the accepted norm.

Adding fuel to the fire, a notorious goon of a son of a minister who recently allegedly attacked an Army Major now aspires to be the education minister of this country!
The people of Sri Lanka, both the oppressors and the oppressed have a peculiar type of Alzheimer's which strangely enough is curable. The high and mighty in Sri Lanka suddenly forget all the tamashas they took part in while the people also forget those issues when the Sri Lankan cricket team wins a T20 match.

My honest question is, is this behaviour worthy of a book reading nation that goes and spends thousands of rupees to buy books and of course to taste a cup of hot instant noodles? Or is it something to do with the books we buy and keep on our shelves untouched since the day we bought them?

The answer is as popular singer Sunil Perera said in one of his songs, ‘I don’t know why?’…
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  Comments - 5

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  • Sarath Ekanayake Wednesday, 26 September 2012 11:10 AM

    The problem is that our nation is full of readers targeting competitive exams. This is not going to make a mature reading society. This is reading for rat race. Results are visible everywhere !!!

    Sarath Ekanayake Wednesday, 26 September 2012 11:57 AM

    People are reading for competitive exams. Reading for rat race. Results are visible everywhere.

    Shokku Masta Thursday, 27 September 2012 10:48 AM

    The writer ably demonstrates that books are mostly useless - unless people read them.. Sri Lanka is not the most literate nation in Asia! It is not among the top ten literate nations in the world! We should aspire to it, read books!

    Lokka Wednesday, 26 September 2012 10:00 AM

    It is the very downward spiral of lawlessness that has turned the ordinary man into a coward of no cover and alliance. What better way is there than to put the masses on a pseudo survival mode to retain the reins of their control in your hand? The ordinary man has to be able to rely on the rule of law to be upheld and the basic norms of human dignity to stand up and protest injustice. Because, at the end of his protest, he has to board the commuter bus at an ordinary bus station, and his children do need to go to school the next morning. Who could blame the major?

    Mervyn Wednesday, 26 September 2012 04:45 AM

    Very well said !!!


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