Prof. P. J. Kurien, Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha,

Shri O. Rajagopal MLA,

Shri K. Muraleedharan MLA,

Shri K. Jayakumar, Director, Institute of Management in

    Government, Kerala,

Shri M. Vijayakumar, Chairman, KTDC,

Shri Palode Ravi, Former Deputy Speaker,

Shri Panniyan Ravindran, General Convenor, Reading Day-

Reading Month Celebrations,

Shri Cheiryan Philip, Convenor, Digital Reading

Madhyama Suhruththukkale,

Priyappetta Sahodaree Sahodaranmare

Ellaavarkkum Ente Namaskaaram,


I am very happy to inaugurate this year's National Reading Day andReading Month celebrations organized by the P.N. Panicker Foundation.

As we all know, the Government of Kerala has been observing the 19th of June every year as Vaayanadinam (Day of Reading) for the past 22 years, to encourage the habit of reading among people, especially the youth.

This year, I understand that the Government of India has entrusted the Foundation to provide leadership to the Reading Mission 2022, which sets an ambitious target of taking the message of reading to 300 million people.  This task was suggested by our Hon'ble Prime Minister during the last year's Reading Day celebrations.  The task may
be difficult, but it certainly is a recognition for the
P.N. Panicker Foundation which has been popularizing reading all these years with never failing enthusiasm. Let me therefore, compliment the Foundation for its continued efforts to create a well read society in India.

Today, our heads bow in reverence to the memory of the Late P.N. Panicker, the father of the Library movement in Kerala.  How he began the movement in 1945 and enabled 45 libraries to grow into a network of more than 6,000 libraries is too well known to be recounted here.  His famous slogan, Read and Grow had such an impact that very soon, Kerala became nationally known as one of the most literate States with a very high level of social awareness.

As we observe the 23rd Reading Day and Reading Month in Kerala, we are aware of how the habit of reading has grown beyond the printed page.  Other than books printed on paper, we now have e-books to be read on
e-readers or other hand-held devices. We also have audio books which give the pleasure of reading by hearing the narrative with appropriate emotions.

Today, the publishing scenario is known to be registering clear profit.  There were some people who predicted that the era of printed books was almost over and that electronic books would take over soon.  But, we have seen how our book publishers seized the opportunity to bring out special editions of books to be read on the e-readers like Kindle and Kobo.  Today, while electronic books are selling well, the printed book is doing even better, selling more than the electronic version.  All these developments have nearly silenced the book loyalists who have been complaining    about the decline of the habit of reading.

Personally, I feel that electronic reading also needs to be encouraged for the sheer relief it gives to the environment. When we print more, we consume more paper, which in turn means cutting down trees for manufacturing paper. But,
I really doubt whether the electronic devices can give the real touch and feel of a book, especially to people of my generation.  But we should accept it as an inevitable charge.

The new reading devices may give the initial impression that they will fully replace the printed book, but these gadgets only add to the number of people who actually read.  The effect of the new trend is visible in the approach of the P.N. Panicker Foundatoin also. Decades ago, the Late
P.N. Panicker encouraged people to read the printed book; today, his followers are popularizing digital libraries and
e-books, considering the popularity of digitally available reading material. This year, P.N. Panicker Foundation is conveying the message of Digital Reading for Digital Empowerment to 712 districts in all the States of India. I am happy note that the Foundation could also impart digital literacy to 3.32 lakhs of rural people in many Panchayaths of Kerala.  This gesture of adapting to modern realities deserves our appreciation.

Now that we have so many options for reading, what we require is only a motivation or a mentality that encourages us to seek knowledge through reading.  The habit of reading would help us to develop our intellect, our sensibility and our vision. But, with too many options, we have to first of all decide on our priority in reading. I am reminded of a British historian who complained that Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading. Our reading habit should therefore widen our knowledge and at the same time empower ourselves to make the right choice of books and online platforms to read.

This empowerment is vital in our schools and colleges, since there is a tendency among our students to depend on freely available material on the Internet, without checking their authenticity. This has affected their knowledge levels and the quality of the knowledge they have acquired. The   load of information appearing in the social media also causes problems more serious than lack of authenticity.  Some of such unfounded writings also entice students and the youth to utilize the new-found freedom of expression on the social media platforms in a thoughtless manner, sometimes inviting legal action. Therefore, it is important that while encouraging reading, we should also make people conscious of what is most suitable for them to read.  This is essential in a State like Kerala where digital empowerment has trickled down to the grassroots levels.

Since I see quite a good number of children here,
I would like to remind them to make reading a daily habit, because it opens a window to the world and enables you to grow up as world citizens. You may find more of English content in your digital reading, but you should make a conscious effort to find content in your mother tongue also. Only with a firm footing in our mother tongue we can master other languages so as to develop as global citizens.

I wish everyone present here a fruitful season of reading and request you to make every day a Reading Day.

Ellavarkkum Ente Aashamsakal


Jai Hind