Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated this year’s Amar Ekushey Book Fair yesterday instead of the usual date of February 1. She also unveiled the English version of Bangabandhu's book "Amar Dekha Naya Chin" titled "New China 1952" at the inauguration ceremony. It coincided with the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh. The annual Bangla Academy Literary Award 2021 was also handed over on the auspicious occasion.
Bangla Academy set the theme of this year’s fair as “Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu and Golden Jubilee of Independence” and dedicated it to the memories of the valiant martyrs of our great Liberation War. This year’s event could not be held in the language month of February like the previous years due to the fear of spreading of the terrible Covid-19 disease. In fact, it was decided not to hold the fair at all this year. But miraculously, a slight downward trend for a few weeks in the rate of coronavirus related infection and death changed the minds of the organisers. Also, the publishers, writers and book collectors, who thirstily look forward to this annual event, requested the authorities to hold it by ensuring necessary health safety measures.After some dithering a date was decided upon. But alarmingly, as the auspicious inauguration date of the Book Fair drew closer, once again the number of deaths and infections from Covid-19 started to rise not only in Bangladesh but also in many other countries.
According to experts, a deadlier strain of Covid-19 has entered Bangladesh which gives less responding time than the previous strains. Many European countries are imposing new lockdown measures due to rise in death rates. Some Middle Eastern countries have stopped incoming and outgoing flights. In the midst of such international measures, we must take the coronavirus seriously despite our wish to continue life and business as usual. All precautions against Covid-19 must be strictly maintained the moment we step outside our homes. Organisers and law enforcers must ensure that people wear masks, maintain social distance and frequently sanitise hands at the fair venue.