Thiruvananthapuram: Reading is in no way heading towards death; only that modern technologies are facilitating its shift from the print to electronic mode, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Even literary classics can be accessed through fingertips thanks to new-age software, he said after inaugurating the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL 2023) here on Thursday evening.
Hailing the four-day event for featuring personalities and sessions from a wide array of excellence, he noted that Mathrubhumi’s initial quarter century’s growth profile from 1923 was intertwined with the country’s independence struggle.
He also highlighted how the newspaper accorded priority to citizens’ freedom and played a critical role in Kerala’s sociocultural renaissance.
“Subsequently, the publishing house began coming up with various publications in print and, of late, a flurry of media endeavours such as FM radio, television channel and online portals,” he said at the ceremony in Nishagandhi auditorium at the Kanakakunnu Palace grounds which is hosting the fourth edition of MBIFL.
While the newspaper is celebrating its centenary, its weekly publication is currently in its 90th year. Mathrubhumi Azhchapathippu (weekly) not only groomed Malayalam language in diverse ways; it served as a bridge between Kerala and rest of the world when it came to literature, the Chief Minister noted.
“Its recent Republic Day special is another instance of how the publication works as a link between Malayalam and literatures from other states of the country,” he said at the function attended by renowned writers from within the state and abroad.
Vijayan recalled that Kerala’s village libraries in the second half of the 20th century were effectively lighthouses of knowledge, facilitating the phase-out of superstitions. “Sadly today, we see efforts to bring such malaises back to society. There are also bids to twist facts and rewrite history in wrong ways. But truth has its value. I am sure festivals like MBIFL will play a major role in upholding virtues and fighting evils,” he said.
Eminent short-story writer T. Padmanabhan, in his memorial speech on multifaceted M.P. Veerendra Kumar, described the Mathrubhumi’s former Managing Director as “the greatest visionary Kerala saw in recent times”. “He (1936-2020) was a politician, public speaker, author, social worker, entrepreneur, journalist, writer and grower, among others, and excelled in each role.” He particularly lauded Veerendra Kumar’s 2019 “masterpiece” on Swami Vivekananda, Sanyasiyum Manushyanum.
The inaugural session of the festival was attended by Nobel laureate Tanzanian-British novelist Abdulrazak Gurna and Man Booker Prize-winning Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka.
Mathrubhumi Managing Director Mr M.V. Shreyams Kumar described MBFIL 2023 “busier than the previous editions” with more than 500 speakers across 250-odd sessions. “The festival is inviting warm response with attendances from across the globe,” he pointed out.
Mathrubhumi Chairman & Managing Editor Mr P.V. Chandran welcomed the gathering, while Mathrubhumi News Channel Executive Editor Rajeev Devaraj proposed thanks.
Mathrubhumi Director (Business) Ms Mayura M.S. was present on the occasion.
The festival will conclude on February 5 with Goa Governor Shri P S Sreedharan Pillai addressing the valedictory session.
Mr Shreyams Kumar is the festival Chairman, while Mr Chandran is the Chief Patron. Mathrubhumi Joint Managing Director Mr P.V. Nidhish is the Festival Patron, while Ms Mayura and Ms Devika M.S. are the Festival Directors.