MANY ‘MISSIONARY’ PEOPLE IN THE MALWA REGION ARE TRYING TO KEEP BOOKS RELEVANT IN THE LIFE OF PEOPLE.
Punjab is no Bengal or Kerala where books are kept under pillows. Known more for guns and agriculture, the state has struggled quite hard to find a place on the literary horizon. Amid blaring of guns and tilling of land, the book leaves have been hard to find space in the cultural ethos of the state.
If at all, it has been the Malwa belt of the state where books could be seen piled up in nooks and corners. It has been in a wide contrast to the Doaba region of the state, where taking a flight for overseas jobs has been an age-old obsession and the Majha region where picking up guns or the related jobs in the Army and police have been more in fashion. The Daily Post series on “Books in Punjab” ( carried over the last five days) demonstrated eloquently that reading books is nowhere on the brainmap of people in the state. If two flagship cities of the state ,Amritsar and Ludhiana, have just one book shop each cater to the interests of the book-lovers, Jalandhar and Patiala have nothing better to put up. In the Malwa region, where book-reading has been a rage of sorts, relatively speaking, many missionary people are trying to keep books relevant in the life of people. For example, in Bathinda, where no exclusive shop for literary works exists, a renowned Punjabi short story writer, Attarjit, has been running a mobile library which he parks in front of schools and colleges to make children indulge in books. Recently, Bathinda got its first shop of literary works on the Sau Footi road opened by an organisation, Lakhi Jungle Sath.
The organisation comprises a group of persons who aspire to sell Punjabi literary works from their shop. The Sahitya Sabha and Teachers’ Home in Bathinda have become synonymous in promoting literary activities in the region. The Peoples’ Forum, Bargari, has been also circulating books around, though much of literature in this field is ideology-driven. In fact, reading habits in the Malwa region are largely credited to the Naxal movement that struck roots here in the early 1970s. The leftist literature found a roaring market in the backdrop during the period and has been flourishing till now. And it did give birth to some of the most cherished Punjabi literary works which got national and international recognition in due course. That Punjab’s only Jnanpith Award award winner Prof Gurdial Singh and Sahitya Academi Award winner Gurbachan Singh Bhullar and celebrated Punjabi poet Surjit Patar come from this region, speaks loudly about the literary potential that the region has.
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