New Delhi, Jan 5 (PTI) The culture of reading should grow more in people as it teaches values like analytical thinking and develops respect for different opinions, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said Saturday.

Speaking at the inauguration of the New Delhi World Book Fair here, the Union Minister said the culture of reading offers “new dimensions” and life finds a “meaning”.

“Even if we read only 50 pages in a day we are filled with satisfaction. We find new thoughts, imagination, and possibilities. Books bring us so many different experiences of the world. I am happy that the culture of reading books is increasing in our country. And our life finds a meaning by reading.

“We get new dimensions. I hope the culture of reading grows with exchange of thoughts, interest to analyse all opinions should increase too, and the respect towards all opinions should increase as well. And I believe reading books teaches us all these values,” he said.

The 27th edition of the book fair opened today at Pragati Maidan.

The minister also emphasised the importance of art and culture and suggested spending part of earnings on such activities. “Art and culture is very important in life, we should spend our earnings for the livelihood, for welfare, to pay taxes, but we also need to spend a part of it on art and culture programmes. Only then our lives have any meaning,” he said.

Organised by National Book Trust and ITPO, this year’s book fair has “Books for Readers with Special Needs” as its theme and Sharjah has been invited as the guest country. Talking about India’s relations with the UAE and Sharjah in particular, Javadekar said that the “real friendship and real partnership” between the two countries is “exhibited through this joint effort”.

“Sharjah and India are really good friends, and more than two million Indians live in the UAE, so when we come to Sharjah or any country in the UAE, we feel like a home away from home. And the friendship, relationship, the cultural ties have grown over the years,” he said.

The inaugural event was also attended by Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, executive chairman of the Department of Government Relations, Sharjah, as the Chief Guest.

Al Qasimi said that such occasions were important to “foster stronger cross-cultural” relations as an opportunity for “community-wide engagements on one platform”.

“India is one of the UAE’s longest standing partners, and we continue to build upon this partnership on economic, scientific, educational and cultural front. We have a long standing history of trade and cultural exchange that has lasted over hundreds of years,” he said.

He also reiterated the UAE president’s declaration of 2019 as “the Year of Tolerance” and said that it will further promote “multiculturism, civility, and prosperity across all nations”.

“It will send a message of tolerance, acceptance and interfaith dialogue, but the value of tolerance is no stranger to this country, for here in India you give equal importance to all doctrines, all faiths, languages and intellectual movements which come together to form India’s vibrant and diverse socio-cultural fabric,” Al Qasimi said.

He added that “the most inspiring success stories are written by countries that celebrate this diversity, respecting different opinions and making the most by learning from others”.

The guest country pavilion will showcase publications in Arabic and English languages, in addition to panel discussions, publishers’ dialogue, and children’s activities.

The fair will also introduce Indian readers to the literary heritage of the UAE through 57 Arabic language works translated in Hindi.

The book fair will come to a close on January 13.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.