READING FOR A HEALTHY SOCIETY
After ‘Puya Meithaba’, the most shocking incident in Manipur history is the arson of the erstwhile state library. Only libraries can bring civilization. The Manipur Public Libraries Act 1988, which became an Act in 1993 needs to be implemented with the establishment of a separate libraries directorate. The state requires to nurture a reading community for making a civilized society in Manipur. Every school, college, locality, or government or semi-government or non-government establishment must own a library.
Besides feeding information and knowledge, libraries instill the readers with the sense of discipline, power of concentration and calmness. Libraries also serve as a treasure of culture and literature of a nation. Libraries enlighten the society by feeding knowledge and information to the readers. A reading nation always becomes a leading nation. Schools should have a separate period solely for library at least once a week in order to inculcate reading habits among students. The state education department needs to monitor the establishment and working of libraries in all schools and colleges of the state.
Investment in education sector does not bring about immediate results. It takes years to see the outcome. However, the result is always lasting and beneficial in the long run. Not many politicians take interest in educating its people, may be because of the fact that an enlightened public is disliked in electoral politics. As every reading man may become the judge, majority of political leaders do not like its people to become a reading community. When its people read, they will become knowledgeable and may be a hurdle to the arbitration of the leadership. Only a very few far-sighted leaders in democracy take up the cudgel of reformation in education sector.
Adequate number of good libraries should be made available in the nook and corner of the state in order to enlighten the people. Libraries play a big role in educating the masses. Academic libraries benefit the students and teachers, while public libraries serve as knowledge bank for the general public. Good food is required for a healthy body and reading makes a healthy mind. As living bodies get energy from the various food nutrients, the human mind needs to be continuously fed with knowledge and information. Books serve as the food for the mind. Library is thus the granary of various nutrients required by our mind. Karl Marx rightly says ‘a reading nation is a leading nation’. In western countries such as Greece, a household without a library is considered as uncivilized. Unites States of America which owns the Library of Congress, the largest library in the globe is obviously the most powerful country today. Russia, once a superpower country, also puts priority on reading. National Library of Russia is named as State Lenin Library taking into account the importance of library laid by Lenin in the Russian Revolution. In India, Bengalis are in high esteem with the claim “Bengal Today, India Tomorrow” for its being the proud owner of the national library of the country.
A library is a place where a large number of books are stored in many shelves. Libraries are the treasure of knowledge. In the absence of a good library in an educational institution, education has no meaning. Without library, students cannot gain knowledge properly. Hence there is provision of library in every educational institute. Libraries provide the students very healthy learning environment. Besides feeding knowledge and information, libraries instill discipline, calmness and power of concentration in the readers. It helps students to keep very good concentration on their studies. In libraries, readers are allowed to read according to their choice and manner. Nobody would check them or disturb them. Since everything is systematic and calm, readers gain more in less time. A library plays a very vital role throughout the life. Libraries are home for the rarest to the commonest books and magazines. Some books like Dictionary and Encyclopedia which are very costly are available in the library. In library readers can find the latest and the oldest editions of books. No popular electronic medium of today can provide the knowledge which libraries give. We need to inculcate reading habits among small kids so as to minimize the negative impacts of present day electronic media.
With the hope of developing libraries in the state, the Manipur Public Libraries bill 1988 was passed by the State Legislative Assembly. With the approval of the President of India, it became an Act in 1993. However, till today the Act has not been implemented by the state government. The status of libraries in Manipur is too low as compared to other states like West Bengal. The non-implementation of the Manipur Public Libraries Act in the state is a big hurdle towards making a civilized society. The state needs to have a full-fledged Library Directorate to oversee the development of library services in the educational institutions as well as in the various localities of Manipur. At present, the state central library is not properly equipped with manpower for managing the library services. It is in lack of valuable updated books and magazines to serve the readers. The public libraries located in various localities under the Raja Rammuhon Roy Library Foundation are not properly monitored for improvement. The state annual budget does not reflect the requirements for the public libraries. Each and every educational institution of the state should have a library catering to the needs of its students. The state departments of Art & Culture and the Education Department may pay attention towards the development of library services in the state.