It gives me great
pleasure to be here on the occasion of the inauguration of reading month
celebration. I thank and congratulate the P.N. Panicker foundation for
organising this. There can be no joy greater than reading and no
strength greater than knowledge.
Kerala has been a torch-bearer and inspiration to the whole nation in
the field of literacy.
The first 100 percent literate city and first 100 percent literate
district have been from Kerala. Kerala was also the first state to
attain 100 percent primary education. Some of the oldest colleges,
schools and libraries of the country are also situated in Kerala.
This could not have been achieved by Government alone. Citizens and
social organizations have played an active role in this remarkable
achievement. Kerala has set an example in people’s participation in this
regard. I admire the work of people like late Shri P.N. Panicker and his
foundation. Shri P.N. Panicker was also the driving spirit behind the
library network in Kerala. He did this through Kerala Grandhasala
Sangham set up by him in 1945 with 47 rural libraries.
I believe that reading and knowledge should not be limited only to work
related aspects. It should help develop habits of social responsibility,
service to the nation and service to humanity. It should cure the evils
in society and nation. It should spread the idea of peace along with
respect for unity and integrity of the nation.
It is said that one literate woman can educate two families. Kerala has
set an example worthy of emulation in this regard.
I learn that PN Panicker Foundation together with a number of Government
agencies, private sector entities and civil society organisations, is
leading an initiative of reading.
Their target is to reach 300 million under-privileged people by 2022.
The main objective of this mission is to promote reading as a means to
grow and prosper.
Reading can help broaden one’s thinking. A well-read population will
help India excel globally.
With the same spirit, I had started a similar movement by name of VANCHE
GUJARAT when I was Chief Minister of the State. It means “Gujarat
Reads”. I had visited a public library to motivate people to read. The
movement targeted the young generation, in particular. I also requested
citizens to think about building a ‘Granth-Mandir’ - a temple of books -
in their village. This could be started with 50 or 100 books.
I appealed to people to give a book instead of bouquet as a greeting.
Such a move can make a big difference.
From the time of the Upanishads persons with knowledge have been
respected through the ages. We are now in the information age. Even
today, knowledge is the best guiding light.
I am told that as a pilot project of Digital Libraries, Panicker
Foundation is working with 18 public libraries in the state in
collaboration with Indian Public Library Movement, New Delhi.
I would like to see such a reading and library movement in the entire
country. The movement should not be limited to make people literate. It
should try to achieve the real goal of bringing social and economic
change. The foundation of good knowledge should be followed by a
super-structure of a better society.
I am happy to note that the State Government has announced 19th June as
the reading day. Obviously, a lot of effort will converge to make this a
The Government of India has also provided support to the activities of
the foundation. I am told that about 1.20 crore rupees have been given
to the foundation in the last two years.
I am also happy to see that the foundation is now focusing on digital
literacy. This is the need of the hour.
I believe in people’s power. It has the capacity to make a better
society and nation.
I urge every young person in the audience to take a pledge of reading.
And enable everyone to do so.
Together, we can once again make India a land of wisdom and knowledge.