Progressive Book Exhibition- An Exercise In Epeolatry

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“I have always imagined Paradise to be a kind of Library,” said the wise Jorge Luis Borges years ago. Well, the residents of the city didn’t have to visit the pearly gates to get their share of books- Janchetna, a Lucknow based book distributor committed to spreading avant-garde and revolutionary literature, organized the Progressive Book Exhibition on September 13th, at the Student Centre in Panjab University, Chandigarh.

The stall went up at 9 AM, as Janchetna volunteers began setting up the area with posters and arranging the books around. Soon people started stopping by, drawn by the enthralling sight of the paperbacks and took their time to browse through the myriad texts.

The spread of books was enough to get the bookworms drooling. The titles ranged from “Karl Marx” and “Lenin”, to those on philosophy, and were available in Hindi, English as well as Punjabi. Students, teachers, visitors, and even the policemen making rounds took a minute to discover new and intellectual works, and find some food for thought. 

The attendees were seen to be engaged in intense and animated discussions with the volunteers, spurred by books that caught their eye. Social issues were also discussed- one attendee passionately talked about how in a random group of people, less than half choose to actively contribute to the society, and the number keeps dwindling as the years go by, which needs to change.

This is a great way to promote good and insightful literature. I’m happy I came here- now I have something to read for the weekend,” said a student, beaming.

Along with books, Janchetna also publishes magazines, and newsletters, which are circulated all over Punjab and Chandigarh to have the maximum possible outreach. “Media is blatantly biased these days, and sides with the government. The common man and his problem are pushed aside. To counter this, we decided to start with our newspaper, where these people will find a voice,” explained a volunteer, while talking about “Lalkaar”, the organization’s Punjabi newspaper. Apart from “Lalkaar”, they also print “Mazdoor Bigul” in Hindi, and magazines like “Disha Sandhaan”, “Naandi path”, “Avhaan”, “Kampal” (in Hindi), “Pratibandh” (Punjabi), and a journal “The Anvil”.

The entire project- right from the typing and printing of the books, to their sale- is run by volunteers, and funded by donations. 

The volunteers also enlightened people about their campaign, “Lok Media ki Muhim” which is an initiative to perpetuate alternative media, which reports straight facts, does not twist their words and takes up issues that plague the society, focusing more on the maladies of the common public. “Our main motive is to educate people and spread the light of awareness. Issues like reservation have just become a political tool today. The government needs to work hard at the ground level, for the upliftment of the society. These are aspects that we focus on,” said Aman, an avid volunteer at Janchetna as well as PSU. They were also told about the regularly held workshops, book drives, programs, and movie screenings that were a part of their project.  

The exhibition wrapped up around 4, much to the disappointment of the book lovers content with flipping through the pages of the plethora of books in front of them. The event was immensely enjoyed by all those in attendance. Janchetna will reportedly come to Chandigarh with a mobile library in February as well, something the city dwellers will surely watch out for. 


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Vrinda Gupta (SD College 32)

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