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A growing community of readers

As the number of visitors coming to Mumbai for Babasaheb’s death anniversary on December 6 has increased, so have the stalls around Shivaji Park.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2010 01:37 IST
Radhika Raj

As the number of visitors coming to Mumbai for Babasaheb’s death anniversary on December 6 has increased, so have the stalls around Shivaji Park.

This year, more than 200 stalls selling books written by Babasaheb Ambedkar and other authors will come up, up from a hundred stalls that came up five years ago.

Large trucks filled with books were arriving at the venue two days before the big day.

“We sell a at least two lakh books during the three-day build-up to the death
anniversary,” said SR Mohite, who has been setting up a stall at the chaitya bhoomi, as Dalits call Ambedkar’s shrine, for the past decade.

Hundreds of other stalls will line the footpaths and roads leading up to the shrine.

Sanket Prakashan, based in Nagpur, has been selling books at Shivaji Park on this occasion for the past 17 years.

“I have sent around 4,000 books this time,” says Rajpriya Dahat, owner of the publication house. Dahat distributes around a lakh books to retailers in December.

“Books hardly come back because we make a point to sell books at reasonable prices,” he said.

“The increasing sales in books indicates growing literacy as well as purchasing power in rural areas,” said G G Wankhede, a professor of sociology and education at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. “It also shows that a number of youngsters are participating in the movement.”

Ramesh Kamle, 52, has bought eight books at one of the stalls. Kamle, however, cannot read or write.

“I have spent all my savings on educating my children,” he said. “They will read the books out to me.”