Intro: Kochi International Book Festival was launched in 1997, in connection with the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of India’s Independence by swayamsevaks with inspirations drawn from the ideologies of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The recently concluded Kochi Antharashtra Pusthakotsvam alias Kochi International Book Festival (KIBF) is one of the most popular as well as sought-after cultural events of Kerala. It is a unique programme attracting the people of Kerala cutting across age-class-gender-religious-political lines. It leads them to the realm of letters. This festival vindicates the simple but genuine ray of hope that ‘reading never dies off’.
All prominent publishers from all over the country put stalls and sell their books. Main stream newspapers and TV channels also make use of this occasion. Lakhs of book lovers throng the pandal during the ten day fete.
This year’s festival concluded in January, 2015 with all elegance and knowledge-packed programmes. It is said to be a miniature of Pragati Maidan Book Festival and Kolkata Book Festival respectively. Several extra ordinary programmes are undertaken prior to Book Festival. Akshara Vilambara Jatha, Children’s Book Festival, Varnotsavam, Free Books to Selected Libraries, Reading Competition, etc. are some of them. Thousands of children and adults are participating in these programmes.
Several luminaries have come forward to work as an active patrons and committee presidents of KIBF. Late Justice VR Krishna Iyer, late Dr Hentry Austin (former All India Congress Committee General Secretary, Union Minister and Indian Ambassador to Portugal), late Justice Chandrasekhra Menon, late K Chandrasekharan (Kerala Education Minister, Leader of the Janata Party and Janata Dal), several retired IAS officers and high court judges are a few to mention. Kerala Ministers belonging to both Congress-led UDF and CPM-led LDF have never missed chances to address one or other programme in KIBF.
Shri Madan Das, Union Minister Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Sahsarkaryavah Shri Dattatreya Hosabale, O Rajagopal, late Sreekanth Joshi, former Governor of Puducherry late KR Malkani, Jnanpith Award laureates Dr Kedar Singh, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, Justice Sukhdev Singh Kang (former Governor of Kerala) are some of the prominent leaders and intellectuals who have graced the KIBF programmes during the last 18 years.
This years ten days long 18th KIBF was inaugurated by the National Book Trust (NBT) Chairman Shri A Sethumadhavan in the presence of the KIBF Chairman Justice (Retd) R Bhaskaran.
Awarding of the prestigious Balamani Amma Puraskaram was the highlight of the second day. Jnanpith laureate Kedarnath Singh presented it to another Jnanpith laureate MT Vasudevan Nair. During the festival, Prafulla Chandra Rey’s A History of Hindu Chemistry was released by Dr MC Valsan and Dr TN Vishwambharan.
Kavyotsavam was conducted on the 8th day and had the participation of noted poets from all over the country. Dharani Dance of Kerala took place in the evening. Media award programme was a significant one in the Pusthakotsvam. It was the major event on the 9th day. Mathrubhumi Kochi bureau chief K Padmajan bagged the award for the print media where as the visual media award went to Deepak Dharmadam, Regional Head of Amrita Channel. Editor of Janmabhumi Leela Menon was accorded the award for the life time achievement.
Two poem books of Vaikkom Ramachandran were released on the occasion. The photo exhibition of Kochi Photo Journalists Forum was an elegant scene. Pavilions of tourism departments of both Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh governments were excellent avenues for the Kochiites.
—T Satisan from Kochi