What is your image of a typical India village? Whatever it is, open space, less pollution, less facilities and less literacy have a great chance of being a part of that picture. What if we tell you that a village named Bhilar in Maharashtra has been turned into a village of books? You heard it right. This ‘pustakanche gaon’ (Book Village) was built on the lines of Britain’s Hay-On-Wye, a Welsh town known for its book stores and literature festivals.
Situated 8 kilometres away from the hill station of Panchgani in Maharashtra, the government initiative was launched by Chief Minister of the state Devendra Fadnavis himself.
The minister of education of the state Vinod Tawde led the project that was undertaken by the department of Marathi Bhasha.
To make it attractive to for the readers, the government requested 75 artists to renovate the famous local places into reading hotspots. The task was completed in three days and the artists were tasked with painting the walls in sync with the theme of the books to be kept there. Also, the state has provided several facilities such as chairs, tables, decorated umbrellas and glass cupboards to local villagers to help them enhance the reading experience of literary connoisseurs visiting there.
Making Marathi world famous
The primary idea behind undertaking this initiative is to promote Marathi and for the same reason all the books in the village belong to Marathi literature. However, as soon as the practice of reading picks up in the village, it is expected to include Hindi and English books in the library as well.
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The reading ratio
The population of this 2 kms long village is 10,000 which is also the number of book made available there. The book to person ratio is 1:1 currently but is expected to grow very soon. The village has already started attracting a substantial number of readers at the 25 hot spots, some of which happen to be portion of inhabitants' houses.
Maharashtra has been a state aware about the importance of literacy and reading in villages. This is actually the second big step towards setting up libraries available to rural folk. Few years back, a rural entrepreneur and activist Pradeep Lokhande decided to bring about a major change in reading habits of the kids in the state. He helped build 1255 school libraries in the rural schools of Maharashtra. His challenges included lack of infrastructure and cheap but informative Marathi books to build the library of. He showed persistence and scrounged the local markets, while requesting the people to donate money so that libraries can function in rural areas without any major hassles.
Reading changes your life in ways that cannot even be imagined. It is an escape from monotony of life that we all require and deserve. The step taken by Maharashtra government is breath of fresh air in times when the habit of reading novels has reduced so much. Hoping that other states undertake a similar initiative soon.