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Window Seat : Village of Books

8/05/2022 at 7:24 AM

Located between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra, Bhilar in Satara district is known as ‘Village of Books’. Based on the concept of Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh village known for its book stores- this small village which produces organic strawberries was made village of books.

The idea was floated by the Rajya Marathi VikasSanstha and the then state education minister VinodTawde, and, the village was given its formal identity of ‘PustakancheGao’ (village of books) on May 4, 2017. Seventy five artists creatively designed 25 spots which were like mini libraries that house about 15,000 books in Marathi.

The concept clicked. The little village attracted attention of book lovers from across the country. Number of homes offering book reading services and number of books on offer increased.

Maharashtra Government is now planning to set up a ‘book village’ in all the districts of the state.

Odisha Government can also think of emulating this idea and help create Village of Books. It could be done near Raghurajpur of Puri (which has already been declared as a heritage crafts village)  orDaringbariin Phulbani district, which attracts upmarket leisure tourists to begin with.

So can West Bengal Govt. as Bengal has had a rich tradition of engagement with books and reading and many villages already have well stocked libraries.

So can Sikkim Govt. as Sikkim is known for its breath-taking natural beauty and a long tradition of hospitality. What better way to relax than to have a hot cup of tea at a place that overlooks snow clad mountains with a book in hand.

This could be capitalized to help tourism, build a positive and sophisticated image and also to promote public reading habit.

A land of fat and unhealthy people

India, it seems, is gradually turning into a country of fat and unhealthy people. As per National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS 5) one in every four Indians is now obese. Obesity has increased at a national level from 21 per cent to 24 per cent among women and from 19 per cent to 23 per cent among men. Consider hypertension. The survey finds 21 per cent of women and 25 per cent of men above 15 have hypertension. Twelve per cent women and 14 per cent men above 15 have random blood glucose levels above normal.

It is ironical as India is credited to have invented and popularized Yoga (so much so that we have an International Yoga Day, now celebrated with much fanfare across the country). Yoga, Baba Ramdev and other Yoga gurus would tell us, can preempt all three. But all three are increasing, thanks probably the infamous duality in our nature- we do not do what we preach. We consume junk food, abhor physical labour (exercise included) and lead an unhealthy life. And we fall sick. Ironically again, India’s per capita expenditure on healthcare among lowest in the world; government spends as little as Rs 3 per day on each citizen. India’s expenditure on public healthcare per capita per year is Rs 1112, less than the cost of a single consultation at the country’s top private hospitals. So we spend from our own resources- called out of pocket expenditure. And it is so high ( In 2018, Indians spent around 62.7 percent of their total health spendings as out-of-pocket expenditure) that pushes millions below the poverty line, not to talk of the misery that the entire family has to undergo.

Thus the bottom line for hoi polloi is: take care of your health, adopt a healthy life style; and for the government: please spend more on health sector, on basic health infrastructure.

Silver lining

The only silver linings in the otherwise gloomy NFHS-5 survey report are:

  1. the country’s total fertility rate (TFR) has declined to 2 children per women now, which is below the replacement level of fertility. At this rate, the population may stablise by 2060.
  2. Number of women having a bank or savings account that they use grew from 53 per cent to 79 per cent. This financial inclusion might translate into further empowerment.

Times of Corona

Corona cases are again rising almost like the way the stealthy cat inches closer to the prey. Most of us have merrily discarded the masks to the dusty drawers and rediscovered that alcohol is not meant for washing our hands. In fact many who are now struggling to wake up early for work find the days of ‘work from home’ quite a welcome option.

Corona meanwhile is waiting merrily.

Tailpiece: India

If you want to know just how divided we are, just look at matrimonial page of our newspapers.

(Courtesy: Social Media)

About the Author:

Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction and plays.

He can be reached at mrinalchatterjeeiimc@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER

This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com

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