GUWAHATI, March 2 � Voluntary organisation Anwesha, which has now emerged as a pioneer organisation in the State's reading movement with some remarkable publications and the efforts to promote reading habit among the young people, has embarked upon an ambitious Rs 5 crore project for preparation and publication of �knowledge books� for the Assamese medium students.
It has already formed the planning and advisory board of the mission with Prof Mohammed Taher as the chairman and moved the State Chief Minister and some public sector units (PSUs) seeking support.
Anwesha president Paresh Malakar told this correspondent that the mission has been envisioned in view of the fact that there is a dearth of knowledge and information books in Assamese. By knowledge and information books, he said, they are meaning the books relating to humanities, sciences and social sciences, among others.
Such books are primarily required for the younger generation. They are not textbooks but can always be used as reference books. These books may be read by specialists as well as by the common readers with some amount of intelligence, Malakar said.
Nowadays, it is generally believed that the children do not read books and are more inclined to viewing televisions. However, the response to the Anwesha Book Fairs held in the schools of various parts of the State since 2007, indicates that there is a passion for reading books among the young people.
In 2007-08, the response in the 34 Assamese medium schools was 64 per cent to the Anwesha Book Fair, while in 2008-09 it shot up to 84 per cent and in 2009-10, the response touched the level of 99 per cent. Anwesha held 34 book fairs in 2007-08, 25 fairs in 2008-09 and 55 fairs in 2009-10 in the Assamese medium schools, Malakar said.
Except some popular science books, books on literary criticism and cultural studies, there are very few knowledge and information books in Assamese. Private publishing houses have rarely taken up any initiative to publish such books.
Till date, Assamese publications are dominated by fiction. Ninety per cent of the Assamese translation works are also fiction, while the Assamese books for children are mainly folktales and fairy tales. The language even does not have two dozens of good biographies.
Meanwhile, both Gauhati and Dibrugarh University have almost wound up their publishing programmes, while the Publication Board, Assam has diluted its publishing and other organisations like the Asam Sahitya Sabha, are not regular in their publishing works in this area, Malakar said.
The tragedy lies in the fact that vast majority of the State's students go to Assamese medium schools and colleges and because of the near non-existence of knowledge and information books in Assamese, they are always confined to 'indifferently produced' textbooks at a time when the scope of learning is expanding every passing day, he said.