Ufaq Fatima

Keeping the ritual, killing the essence!  

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It is hard to imagine how a shoe-shop, any average one, can have more visitors than a library that holds thousands of books in its lap and offers a window to world of knowledge and wisdom. But, truth be told, it is the reality of our society and one is amazed to see how many book shop owners are switching over to other businesses in view of the lack of any financial dividends. To add to the miseries, readymade material available on internet and the glitter of technology has further pushed the book reading culture in despair!

With all the bliss that comes with technology, there are, however, some negative effects to it as well and one among them is the deep chasm that it has created between an individual and a book. Though, in its efforts to bridge the gap tremendous readymade available materiel is made available on internet that is accessible with a single click or a blink of an eye. Technology might have given us the ultimate access to material, it has definitely robbed us of the essence of a culture of book reading.

The phenomenon of book reading culture has seen a drastic drop around the globe and same stands true for Kashmir.

Over the years the book stores of Valley have witnessed a decline in purchase of book made by local people. “From past 10 years there has been a remarkable difference in the business. With time, the enthusiasm of purchasing and reading a book has definitely gone down,” says Masrat Ali, who is coordinating ‘Gulshan Book Store’ situated in the heart of the city.

“When internet facilities were not so common here, reading of literature both fiction and non – fiction were in high demand. With invention of new technology book reading culture saw a drastic decline. However, there is a miniscule population, those few literature lovers,   who are our constant customers and show up time and again,” Masrat adds.

Today most of the youth spend their leisure time either on their smart phones or laptops. Buying a book from a store is a very rare exercise and probably an activity out of their minds. “After my college, I usually spend my time with my phone. After all, you get all sort of information over it. From entertainment to study material- everything is available just a click away. Who needs books in time of Google,” says Sadaf, a student.

With smart phones being the necessity of youth today, most of the students rely only on internet sources for their studies or the readymade notes available on various cyber and photo state centres here.

“It is extremely disappointing when my students tell me about how little they read. In a class of 100 students, 90 among them tell me that they have never read a book that is not part of their syllabus. To pass their exams, they prefer to rely on mediocre notes sold on various photocopy centres. Even the culture of reading E-books is yet to take roots here,” says a teacher, who teaches philosophy at Government Women’s College, Srinagar, adding that such behaviour is marking an end to book reading culture where thinkers and thoughtfulness could be valued.

But with the majority of youth preferring technology over books, there are still some who value the essence of literature and books. The students who hold a keen interest in various literature subject consider book reading a treasure of a habit.

“No doubt internet too is a good source of information but reading books captures the essence. While turning pages of book I feel more connected to the world while as reading over the internet I cannot imagine beyond the boundaries of the screen,” says Sidra Nazir, a English literature students.

“For the generations to come the trait shall be unknown and they would not realise the importance of reading a book- cover to cover. They will surely gather the information but they will never get to know the music of turning pages, feel of words and most importantly they will not have any real memories or experience that book readers share while reading a book,” Sidra concludes.

 

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