Inaugurating the 27th edition of New Delhi World Book Fair on Saturday, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar expressed joy on the increasing popularity of books in India, and maintained that all opinions should be represented and respected in literature.
He said books expose their readers to new dimensions and hoped that with increasing popularity of books in India, the exchange of perspectives as well as the interest in "representing and respecting" all opinions will increase.
"Books teach us important values of life.
I hope we are able to exchange our views and represent all opinions in literature.
Respect towards all opinions should increase too, " he said.
Javadekar said books have not lost their popularity even after the advent of television, internet, e - books and more lately, audio books.
"We may read only 50 - 60 pages in a day but that brings us joy.
It exposes us to new thoughts and imagination.
Different experiences of the world are brought together in books.
Indians love reading, and it is growing at a steady pace in the country, " he said.
He recalled that over 12 lakh visitors thronged the multiple stalls at the book fair in its last edition and hoped that readers would come out in "even greater numbers" this year.
"Several cultural events will also be taking place on the sidelines of the book fair and I am extremely delighted to see the efforts of National Book Trust (NBT) yield results.
"Books give a new meaning to life.
More people should read and all views should be represented and respected in literature.
The fulfillment of life does not come from earning money, it comes from reading, " said the 67 - year - old politician.
UAE's third largest emirate Sharjah has been invited as the guest of honour this year.
Javadekar said that the "real friendship and real partnership" between India and UAE is "exhibited through this joint effort".
Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, executive chairman of the Department of Government Relations, Sharjah, attended the inauguration event as the chief guest.
"The most inspiring success stories are written by countries that celebrate diversity, respect different opinions and make the most by learning from others, " Al Qasimi said, reiterating the UAE president's declaration of 2019 as the "Year of Tolerance".
It is organised by the National Book Trust (NBT), along with the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO).
"Pakistan was allotted a stall but while over 20 countries have come to attend this celebration of books, they didn't turned up, " NBT chairman, Baldev Bhai Sharma told IANS on the sidelines.
Javadekar regretted that visitors may have to face some difficulties due to the ongoing construction at Pragati Maidan but urged them to come forward in large numbers.
"We are constructing a world class Integrated Exhibition Cum Convention Center here but nothing is achieved without some pain.
You may have to walk through narrow lanes this time but this should not dissuade you from coming to the fair in large numbers because books here make up for all the pain, " he said.
The theme for this year of the fair is "Readers with Special Needs".
Special exhibition of books on and by Mahatma Gandhi are also being showcased and sold to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the father of the nation.
Over 600 publishers are are selling their books in about 1300 stalls at the book fair.
Tickets are priced at Rs 30 for adults and Rs 20 for children, available online, at selected metro stations and Pragati maidan gate no.
1 and 10.
Entry for students in school uniform, senior citizens and differently abled are free.