Prof. Sunil Goyal
World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Each year, on 23 April, celebrations take place all over the world to recognize the scope of books – a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures. The events done to honor the day are organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. Although World Book and Copyright Day was officially inaugurated in 1995, its conception is traceable to Spanish writer, Vicente Clavel Andres, who conceived the idea in 1922. He developed the holiday to pay tribute to the notable author, Miguel de Cervantes. Because Cervantes was born on October 7, World Book Day was celebrated for the first time on October 7, 1926. However, in 1930, King Alfonso XIII of Spain changed the date to April 23, which is Cervantes’ death date. In Catalonia, Spain, the holiday enjoyed great popularity — especially because April 23 is also the feast day of Saint Jordi or ‘Diada de Sant Jordi,’ the patron saint of Catalonia. On Saint Jordi’s day, gifts are given, and ever since the Barcelona Book Fair of 1931, typical gifts include books and roses. Coincidentally, April 23 also marks the death anniversary of authors William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. These factors played a major role in UNESCO selecting April 23 to celebrate its own World Book and Copyright Day in 1995.
The purpose of the day is to encourage and promote reading and publishing, as well as advance the protection of intellectual property through copyright. According to UNESCO’s website — “It is a time to celebrate the importance of reading, foster children’s growth as readers, and promote a lifelong love of literature and integration into the world of work. Through reading and the celebration of World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April, we can open ourselves to others despite the distance, and we can travel thanks to the imagination.’
Last year saw the start of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-32) and it’s a UN priority to uphold and promote linguistic diversity and multilingualism. Indigenous and local languages feature as part of the World Book Capital Network Charter, and the Charter recognizes a less rigid concept of ‘the book’, i.e., acknowledging various forms of literature (including oral traditions). For World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April, Indigenous Languages will be the message UNESCO will focus on. Of the almost 7,000 existing languages – many of which are fast disappearing – the majority are spoken by indigenous peoples who represent the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity. The UN does not put restrictions on who or which cultures can be termed indigenous, but many of you will be aware of indigenous communities either from your own country, residing there, or among those you have worked with abroad.
One can do and motivate others to do various activities on WORLD BOOK AND COPYRIGHT DAY such as Buy a book to encourage reading. If you’d love to celebrate the right way, go ahead and read that book you’ve bought but haven’t had the chance to read, you can gather a few of your friends and start a reading challenge. See who can read the most books within a limited period. Alternatively, you can also challenge yourself to finish a certain number of books every month, you can donate as many books as you can to foundations, charities, or orphanages. Books are gifts that might not cost you much but that translate into a wealth of knowledge for the recipient. Open up a person’s world by donating a book. You can encourage and inspire others to read – love reading because reading makes you empathetic. Research studies have shown that people who read fiction have a heightened ability to empathize with others. Reading builds your vocabulary, children who read more books have larger vocabularies than those who don’t. Reading keeps your mind active. According to the National Institute on Aging, reading books and magazines helps to prevent cognitive decline, reading helps you sleep better. Moreover, reading lowers depression levels, reading has been proven to help alleviate symptoms of depression.
Today, we are celebrating WORLD BOOK AND COPYRIGHT DAY to promote reading culture, a healthy reading culture all around the world. Instead of regarding the act of reading as a bore, we’re encouraged to turn reading into a hobby and favorite pastime. As books make the world go round, without books, everyone would have limited knowledge about the world. Books facilitate the spread of information and ideas. We can go from being amateurs on a subject to becoming experts, all by taking the time to read. Intellectual property is promoted. World Book and Copyright Day also creates awareness about the intellectual property of authors. We’re reminded to get our books legally, without infringing on the copyright of authors.
(Author is Eminent Social Scientist, Columnist, and presently posted as Dean and Chairman – Board of Studies at Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University of Social Sciences, Dr. Ambedkar Nagar (MHOW), Madhya Pradesh). Email [email protected]
Prof. Sunil Goyal