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Celebrate the joy of reading

NIMI KURIAN

According to UNESCO, April 23 is World Book and Copyright Day. A day set aside to enjoy the pleasures of reading.



SHEER ENJOYMENT: Enter a world of knowledge and fun. Photo: AFP

Have you ever opened a book, begun reading and then instantly disappeared into the pages? If you haven't then you have missed the best adventures in life. Every book has a story to tell. It could be historical, geographical, literary, poetry — almost anything. The book will take you to places you have never been to and sometimes can never even dream to be in.

Reading a story set in history will take you back to an age you have not experienced. You can imagine the people of that time, their concerns, their achievements, the kind of houses they lived in, the kind of food they ate. In your mind's eye you visualise the life of people you have never seen. It is the same with any other kind of book. You are immediately transported into another world, and in doing so you experience the magic of the unknown. Take for example the book The Sword of Tipu Sultan by B.S. Gidwai. You must have learnt about Tipu in your history class, but then reading this book will give you another dimension on the man. You come to know him as a person; you come to know of his great need to conquer, to fight, to win.

It is the same with travelogues. Here you get to travel with the author to unheard of places. You sense the thrill of being able to visit a new place and discovering the place, its people, the cuisine, the culture and so on.

The written word

It is to celebrate the joy of reading that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has set aside April 23 as World Book and Copyright Day. So how did they fix the date? April 23 happens to be the day (in 1616) when three great writers Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilasco de la Vega died. It is also the date of birth and death of the other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, Halldor K. Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejνa Vallejo. So, on April 23 UNESCO encourages people the world over to appreciate the power of the written word and also remember those who have made exceptional contributions to Literature. April 23 is also World Copyright Day. According to their website: UNESCO's commitment to copyright dates from as far back as 1952, when the Universal Copyright Convention was adopted.

The advance in technology has many benefits but there is also a downside to it. For example while people queued up outside bookstores to collect their first copy of the highly priced Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the piracy market was already at work and very soon cheaper books were sold on pavements and even on the roads at traffic lights! It is to prevent this kind of thing that UNESCO finds the need for awareness campaigns to raise the level of protection and also to act as a deterrent to piracy. Every time you buy a book that has been printed in violation of the Copyright Act you are aiding in piracy and violating the Copyright policy. So on April 23 let us all make a promise to read and also support the need for copyright to be protected.

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