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Celebrating 50 years of cordial diplomatic relations in 2015, India invited Singapore, through the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS), to be the Guest of Honour for this year’s New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF), from 14 to 22 February 2015. In this exclusive interview with Kitaab’s editor-in-chief Zafar Anjum, Dr. R. Ramachandran, Executive Director of NBCDS, shares his experiences from the NDWBF.
Singapore was the Guest of Honour country at this year’s NewDelhi World Book Fair. Has this strengthened cooperation between India and Singapore?
R. Ramachandran: Our links with India has always been good professionally. What has not happened over the years is Indian public awareness of our authors and publishers. The large number of authors and publishers and the 30 programmes organised at the Fair, schools and bookshops has broken the ice and Singapore, besides being a financial centre, has also become known now as a literary and publishing hub among the Indian readers. This awareness would lead to more publishers being interested in our books as they would be saleable in the Indian market.
Besides, Indian reading public had been hitherto insular. They have been reading Indian tittles in English and in their local languages. As India is opening up, there is an interest in other parts of the world, particularly Asia. This became apparent when Indians bought reprinting rights to some of our fiction and non-fiction titles.
The other important factor is that the Singapore Publishers’ and writers’ perception of the quality and the range of Indian titles has greatly improved. They now know that Indian publications have reached international standards both in content and packaging and therefore would be of interest to Singaporean and ASEAN readers
Hence, I would think that the literary and publishers links would be strengthened as there would now be a business motivation behind the literary and publishing initiatives.
This year, Singapore’s Book Council is launching an all-new literary arts initiative, titled Twilight Tales (TT). This bimonthly storytelling session for adults, will be held and hosted by friends in their cosy homes . featuring well-known writers and/or story-weavers.
“Our plan is to reach out to more and different audiences with stories and books with TT,” R. Ramachandran, the executive director of Book Council told Kitaab. “TT will be held once in two months in a home of friends who will host the event. The hosts will provide the refreshments and the venue – normally their homes – while the Council will organise the programme and publicise it. The hosts will also invite their friends and colleagues. The number of people would be about 30 or so.”