GUWAHATI, Nov 3 - “The younger generation is often blamed for not learning their native language and giving more importance to English language. But the fact is that if the younger generation doesn’t get practically useful materials in their local languages, they are sure to migrate to other languages. In Assam, like many other parts of the world, we have this challenge to preserve and promote our own language.”Inaugurating the 19th North East Book Fair, 2017 at the AEI playground here today, Dr Nagen Saikia, eminent litterateur and former president of the Asam Sahitya Sabha, underscored the need to address the root causes pushing the Assamese language to the brink.
Dr Saikia also said expansion of English and its popularity among the younger generation is a global phenomenon, but the responsibility also lies with the society to bring out more practically useful and updated works in the native language so that the younger generation can embrace it spontaneously.
“Eminent linguist GN Devy has predicted that by the end of this century, only 11 languages will survive in the world. It’s high time we deciphered the warning signs,” he added.
The book fair, organised by the All Assam Publishers and Book Sellers Association, has been dedicated to the memory of eminent theatre personality Arun Sarma and journalist Radhika Mohan Bhagawati. The temporary stage of the fair has been dedicated to eminent actor and ex-producer of Kohinoor Theatre Ratan Lahkar, and noted film personality Abdul Majid.
Renowned actor Victor Bannerjee, speaking as a special guest on the occasion, said though the era of colonialism is a past, the new imperialism lies in changing the mindset. “We have a tendency to worship the ‘God’ of the marketplace, but need to make our younger generation understand the richness of our own language and culture. Our children should read and relish Srimanta Sankaradeva’s Gunamala, Birinchi Kumar Barua’s Jivanar Batot and many other classical works of Assamese authors,” he added.
Nandan Jha, Vice Chairman of Penguin Random House, India, who was a distinguished guest, said at a time when concern is being expressed over shrinking shelf space for books in retail, events like book fair create a perfect ambience for people to choose from a wide variety in an open atmosphere, conducive to promote the habit of reading.
Earlier, in his welcome speech, president of the Association, Ajit Kr Barman urged the State government to extend support to all kinds of book fairs. A number of eminent personalities associated with the fair were felicitated.