Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee kicks off 47th Kolkata International Book Fair with UK as theme country

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stated on Thursday that the historical ties between India and the United Kingdom can be traced back to the Battle of Plassey in 1757. She officially opened the 47th International Kolkata Book Fair on the same day.

According to Banerjee, “We have strong connections with the UK, as many students pursue their education in various universities there, and there are also many Indian professionals working in the country. The UK’s influence on our nation spans a long period of time. Their architectural and artistic contributions have endured for centuries, showcasing remarkable resilience and strength.”

This year, the book fair focuses on the UK as the theme country. A specially designed gate, highlighting the UK, has been created for the event.

Banerjee further added, “Numerous Indian students have studied at prestigious institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, and the London School of Economics.”

The book fair attracts participation from nearly 20 countries, including the USA, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, and Spain, turning it into a grand celebration in the metropolis.

The author Bani Basu received the ‘Rama Prasad Goenka CESC Sristi Samman 2024’ award during the inauguration ceremony, which Banerjee presided over. The event was also attended by Alex Ellis CMG, British High Commissioner to India, Alison Barrett MBE, Director of British Council-India, as well as various authors, ministers, and dignitaries.

Expressing his admiration, Alex Ellis remarked, “The Kolkata Book Fair is larger than the London Book Fair. There is an enchanting connection between the UK and West Bengal. The state radiates a certain energy.” Ellis highlighted the UK’s association with notable figures like Rabindra Tagore and Sourav Ganguly. He also acknowledged the cultural significance of Durga Puja and the efforts of West Bengal tourism in preserving it. Ellis divulged, “The British Council is commemorating its 75th anniversary of operations in India.”

Banerjee encouraged everyone to make time for reading amidst their busy schedules.

Tridib Kr. Chatterjee, the President of Publishers & Booksellers Guild, urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to allocate a dedicated space for establishing book archives, libraries, and guesthouses for national and international dignitaries.

Throughout the 12-day duration, the UK Pavilion will exhibit the UK’s contributions in literature, arts, science, and English language education. It will also host discussions and talks with notable academics and esteemed authors from the UK, offering a wide range of engaging activities.

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