Clearly when Goud says “books can never be misused”, he has never heard of Mein Kampf, or any number of other toxic texts that left misery and destruction in their wake.

If politicians would keep away from book fairs, South Asian publishers might actually see their industry move forward, but the Hyderabad Book Fair in India is just the latest example of the Luddite fringe doing its best to sound intellectual while also doing its best to hold back progress.

“Books are our best friends,” Telangana Minister for Culture and Tourism V. Srinivas Goud told schoolchildren at the launch of the 35th Hyderabad Book Fair.

Change in society comes only through books. No technology can diminish the importance of books. Cellphones can be misused but books can never be misused.

Bad enough this guy is completely unable to grasp that cellphones can be used to read books, and reach a far wider audience than any printed book can match.

But clearly when Goud says “books can never be misused”, he has never heard of Mein Kampf, or any number of other toxic texts that have left misery and destruction in their wake.

Goud might also want to try looking at what others in his government are doing as he rants against progress.

That same evening, reports The Hindu, IT principal secretary Jayesh Ranjan inaugurated a stall of the Digital Media Wing of Telangana Government that is launching the ‘Telangana Digital Repository’.

The 35th Hyderabad Book Fair runs December 22 through January 1, a reminder that while western publishing sleeps off its hangovers, the rest of the world carries on.

The 2019 edition anticipated one million visitors, and for an Indian book fair that’s not unusual, but sadly nor is the Luddite mindset that is quite incapable of seeing technology other than as publishing’s enemy.

As the 2019 fair launched, J Gauri Shankar, the president of Book Fair Society, was quoted as saying,

Book reading culture is slowly vanishing from the city due to rising use of technology.

Check out the TNPS counter-argument to that nonsense here:

At the time of that TNPS post India had reached 41% internet penetration, with 560 million people online.

Today, just three years on, India is at 59.5% internet penetration, with 833 million people online, yet still some people are burying their heads in the sand.

Of course not all India’s publishing people are so blinkered, and we are seeing progress, with many Indian publishers embracing the digital opportunity.

But some, like the Minister for Tourism and Culture, needs lessons both in history and in modern-day publishing trends.