RESPONSES TO LAST WEEK'S
All under one roof
Importersdominate the book fair in Lahore while publishers see the business in trouble. There are books on all subjects at one place
By Saadia Salahuddin
"I could not get a textbook on International Affairs from any of the six bookshops I visited in Lahore. I have come hoping to find it here. A stall owner says he has," says a father who had come to the Lahore International Book Fair to get the book for his college going child.
The book fair at Fortress Stadium has provided people an opportunity to get books on varied subjects and disciplines at one place where publishers, importers and distributors are all there. We must avail this opportunity while it lasts and it is on till March 3.
Publishers from India, the USA and the UK have put up stalls here with local partners. Foreign publishers are around 40 in number, mainly from India. Indian publications are in a large number at the fair and on varied subjects. A good number of children's books are there ranging from science to Islam. You will find Das Capital, Karl Marx's biography, Toynbee's history, books on policies and solar energy, new books are of course there -- at Indian publishers/distributors' stalls.
Pick up a book from India and look at the price, it may seem very good at first but the very next moment you realise it is not the price you are going to get the book at. There is 1.56 difference between Indian and Pakistani rupee. In other words, 100 Indian rupees are equal to 156 Pak rupees but the Ministry of Information, Islamabad gives 1.79 conversion rate which means 100 Pak rupees are equal to 179 Indian rupees.
From the bookfair it seems Pakistan is publishing books in very small number. Eight out of ten stalls are of importers. There are fiction books, biographies, travelogues, poetry, prose, history, art and children's books but negligible work on science by Pakistani publishers. Whatever locally published science books are there, can be seen at the stall of National Book Foundation of Pakistan.
Amir Karim, Business Development Executive at Paradise Books and Distributors at the fair says, "The publishing industry is facing multiple problems as there is shortage of both writers and illustrators. We import ink, India produces its own. Pakistan does not produce florescent colours while all the children's books from India have flourescent colours so lot of co-publishing is going on with India. Some printing is being done in Hong Kong as well but India suits us because of the freight rate. If we import from India the freight rate is 2.7 per/kg. From China it is costly."
"The import tarrif does not allow import of general books, story books for children and novels from India -- in short it discourages import of educational books but Islamic books, technical, medical and science books are allowed. Don't we get education from technical books?" He asks.
Another person at Caravan's bookstall says, "The biggest problem in publishing is the price of paper. There has been 300-500 rupees increase on every rim of paper. One rim is of 500 sheets. Books for children are being published on art paper whose cost has increased by Rs. 300 on every rim. Book binders and printers have also increased their rates with price-hike. The little books we publish are hard to price. The issue is to control price-hike, nothing is more important," says Salahuddin of Caravan Book House, who has been for long in the publishing business.
Pakistan is mainly printing textbooks and children's books, says a publisher. Punjab Textbook Board and NWFP Textbook Board have put up their stalls here and are selling books which are supplementary readings at Rs. 5 only -- unbelievable price in these times, isn't it? While NWFP Textbook Board is selling all the books at one rate, Punjab Textbook Board has displayed all the textbooks but is not selling them. They sell through distributors only. I must say that books for children from NWFP are of good quality in every way.
The biggest stalls at the fair are of importers where prices range upto Rs. 3.5 million. Yes, books on sciences have crazy prices. Many importers have books which are largely meant for libraries and researchers. A senior citizen at the bookfair says, "There should be a library in every government department." They are very much needed, I would say or many imported books will stay in the importers' shelves.
The biggest stall is that of Vanguard with books on every subject. The next in line is Pak Book Corporation, importers only. They have up to date books on every subject published anywhere in the world, they claim. Multiline Books say they have an edge in books on agriculture and veterinary sciences. Here at the fair, Readings gives a surprise. It has comes with all new books. All the books have price tags, so no time is wasted in conversions.
Vanguard and Book Field from Islamabad have put the subject title on the different book racks which makes it easy for people to browse through books. Galaxy Books have a good range of Pearson Education Books published in India and of books on management.
At National Book Foundation stall there is 40 per cent discount on all books while at Paradise there is 40 per cent discount on all Disney books. Beacon Books, Multan have advertised that they have Zakir Naek and Muhammad Hameedullah's books. Sang-e-Meel has the largest fiction in Urdu apart from other books and are offering 25 per cent discount.
Dogar Brothers and Dogar Publishers have books which help in preparation for the different competitions, NTS, entry tests and on law.
There is a stall of Fine Diaries which sells diaries and Ibne Safi's books only -- all 120 books of Imran Series. "Their demand has only increased with time," the person at the stall says.
The fair is a continuity of the book fairs that used to be held at Alhamra, The Mall. For four years it has been internationalised and is being held at Fortress Stadium. Till last year it was held at the Expo Centre whose design suits such fairs, says Saleem A. Malik, one of the organisers of the fair.
"We were very encouraged by the hall. Now the hall has been given to a UAE company, Carfur," says Saleem. The giving away of the hall to a company has come as a blow to people's hopes. The city has seen book fairs, job fairs and educational fairs here but now the books are on display under a big parachute tent where electricity is supplied through generator and all this arrangement is very costly which makes it impossible for small publishers and retailers to pay hefty rent of stalls here.
In India, National Book Trust of India bears all the expenses of the book fairs held there while the participants have to pay nominal money. In Pakistan there is no such help from government. The government should consider extending support to the Lahore International Book Fair (LIBF) because its not just an effort to promote reading among people, its an effort to develop human resource.
By Bushra Sultana
The other day a friend rummaged, quite inappropriately, through my dresser and declared, "you are such a hoarder!" Not the one to take such accusation silently, I promptly snapped my drawer shut, unfortunately missing her fingers by just a few centimetres. "Everybody is a hoarder of some sort", I retorted and presented to her the following conclusion.
Material things bring with them a sense of possession. This possession, in turn, gives us a sense of worthiness. Since many of us have, consciously or subconsciously, failed to understand the purpose of our lives, we distract ourselves by surrounding ourselves with tangible objects to which we can lay claim just so we won't end up feeling lonely in a hostile universe. Whereas before, driven and competitive men would amass land through conquest. Industrialisation and 20th century's alienation has left humans in quite a bleak state of affairs; we've come down from obsession with hoarding, countries to obsession with possessing the latest tech gadgets. Consider this.
Adult life is twisted; not just the usual run-of-the-mill twisted, but nerve-jarring, pill-popping, weekly-visit-to-shrink complicated. In this dismal situation -- carrying the powerful grey matter God has generously bestowed in our heads -- we constantly look for happiness. That is why (and I generalise quite blatantly here) adults who are alcoholics are so with vengeance, those who are promiscuous would leer at just about anything and those who are pious become increasingly rigid in matters of faith as the years pile on. The truth of the matter is we all try to hold on to what might bring us salvage.
And right at the onset of adulthood, when things seem to falter and we are finally faced with the idea of mortality, in a desperate attempt to claw at some form of purposeful happiness, we start reproducing. Children are perhaps the most powerful presence in anyone's life that renders them unselfish -- or selfish in the child's interest you may say. Subsequently, all nastiness that life throws at the parents becomes bearable. The focus shifts from "my life" to "their life" which in turn brings a sense of immortality. They start living to provide their children every happiness once denied to them; as if by miraculous coincidence, this world has transformed in a couple of decades to let happiness flourish past childhood/teenage so kids won't go through the same trauma that their parents experienced. The purpose of reproducing is aimed at nothing but self-satisfaction. With such advancement in psychology, thanks to Freud, and while living in a time which is swamped with information on knowing oneself better, it is sad that we hoard kids. This hoarding is reflective of a yearning for self-importance that in turn would justify one's existence -- right up there with snagging money and wanting fame.
As far as I and the shameless accusation of being a hoarder are concerned, I'm also guilty of it. However, I don't hoard things. Well, owning a pair of pants for the past 10 years to (solely) gauge my ever expanding size is not hoarding; neither is sporadic, impulsive buying of clothes that I can't fit in as a weight-loss incentive. I'm a hoarder of a different kind. My closet might be full to the brink, my book case may be sagging with the weight of paper, my dresser might be partly invisible under all the clutter. However, my most prised hoardings are in my head. They are my memories of fragrances, voices and songs, images of faces and places and warmth of touch. They are what bring me peace. They are my justification to the universe.
• Polo: The Pakistan Cup today at
Lahore Polo Club from 10am to 5pm.
Handicap limit: 8-14 goals.
• Exhibition: Ali Abbas's works titled Desert Breeze
at Ejaz Art Gallery, 79 B1, MM Alam Road,
Gulberg III, Lahore,
opening on Friday, March 7 at 6pm.
• Exhibition of paintings by Victoria & Albert Museum
at Alhamra Arts Council,
The Mall till March 15 from 8am to 1pm daily.
• Folk Music Programme on Monday, March 3
at Alhamra Hall II,
The Mall at 7pm.
• Sing-Along-Kaafi organised by Leaf
Gaddafi Stadium on March 4 at 6pm.
• New Sangeetkaars of Quality in concert on March 11,
Leaf at Alhamra, Gaddafi Stadium at 6pm.
• Puppet Show for Children every Sunday
The Mall at 11am.
The king of games or game of kings?
Polo has become increasingly popular over the years with games going on half of the year in the city
By Naila Inayat
"Let other men play at other things. The game of kings is still the king of games." This ancient inscription on a stone tablet next to a polo ground in Gilgit, sums up the passion of polo players today.
Other than the game's eminence in the northern areas, Lahore has also developed into a hub of this sport. The Lahore Polo Club (LPC) organises various tournaments regularly every year; the 30 week long season is stretched from October to April.
"The game has done well over the last eight years; there has been a lot of professionalism on part of the players as well as sponsors," tells Irfan Hyder, Secretary LPC, while looking on a beginners' match on the sidelines of 'Wateen Low Goal Polo Cup 2008.'
"No doubt it is a positive and healthy activity in our society, it makes one mentally strong teaching you the difference between right and wrong," he says.
Yes it might help you differentiate between right and wrong, good or bad but doesn't that imply to all sports which are bound by rules of the game.
On the contrary Khadija Mohsin Khosa, daughter of the famous polo player Mohsin Atta Khosa opines, "In a country which is so energetically driven towards commercial games such as cricket, where the old and the young alike have become addicted to it, a very small section of society knows of the game of Polo and an even smaller, plays it."
Similarly Nasir Ahmed from Sawabi, a land lord involved in construction business says, "I have been following the game for thirty odd years. The sport gives a sense of thrill. But it never was and never can be a commonman's activity because it is an expensive sport. It's a game of kings!"
Since it is commonly termed as the game of the 'elites' it is only likely that the common man may not be able to afford it. Mainly because it requires the possession of expensive horses, their maintenance which is costly and also sometimes expensive memberships.
"It is difficult to maintain your horses. A commoner cannot do it with limited resources," says Nasir
No doubt with 500 horses moving back and forth along the turf it helps one understand how the horses can make or break your game
Sadaf and Sara term polo as a positive indulgence because after all it does represent the Persian-Turkish roots of our heritage. Pakistan is a beautiful blend of many cultures and traditions. Qutbuddin Aibak started the game in the Indian subcontinent, later it was imported by the British and spread all over the world.
Irfan recounts that the 100 years old LPC is one of the oldest clubs in the world. The game is not only a means of recreation but now it is being taken very seriously with International teams pouring in.
The LPC in particular gets visitors from all over the world. Players from Argentina -- which has one of the world's best handicap players -- come to play in Pakistan. However, the game played on this mountaintop is different from the regular polo game because it has no rules! In fact it is often termed as the game of life and death.
"Even though no one can deny the immense entertainment it provides to polo lovers, I would say it is definitely taken seriously as a sport. Also, when a match is in progress it is not difficult to point out throngs of gamblers waiting to wager each move of every player. I think it's quite thrilling. Also, many companies and groups heavily sponsor most games and tournaments. Families often form part of the spectators but this game in particular attracts the young crowd," says Khadija.
One would not be surprised to see female polo players in the field. Some are very good while some not so good. Largely because it requires immense physical strength and a good amount of training to excel.
Irfan Hyder tells that for training the club has a separate riding school which serves as a nursery for youngsters, both girls and boys. He says that from March 17th-23rd, all women tournament will be held between national and international players.
Incentives to grow organic vegetables and cut flowers
By Saadia Salahuddin
Farmers can reap Rs. 320 million profit per acre per year if they grow vegetables organically, which means growing vegetables without chemicals.
The Punjab Floriculture Development Council has prepared PC I or feasibility report for production of organic vegetables under protected environment.
There is need to grow crop through organic means to get rid of toxicity in our food. Big quantity of pesticides are sprayed on crops to ward off fungus which germinates due to humidity but these pesticides are injurious to health.
While growing organic vegetables, insects will be controlled through biological means which is, by encouraging their predators. Pesticide with 'knock-down' effect will be used in case of heavy infestation. Knock-down effect means the characteristic of the pesticide will leave the plant protoplasm (cell) system within 24 hours. This way toxicity will not deposit in the plant and subsequently won't transfer to the fruit, explains Ata Muhammad Khan, Secretary Punjab Floriculture Development Council and Executive Committee Floriculture Development Projects.
Urea will be used for fermentation of green manuring to bring its nutrients in available form for the next crop to be cultivated on this land, he says.
The innovative idea of growing organic vegetables by giving incentives to farmers, was Dr. Ataur Rehman's. The government is offering Rs. 35 million soft loan for the purpose, refundable in six to eight years in three equal instalments and eighty per cent of the loan is interest-free.
To make it more cost effective the government is empowering PCSIR to certify the vegetables as non-toxic. Till now all the export products have foreign certification. This will benefit both the farmers and consumers.
Vegetables grown organically are in demand both at home and abroad as people are becoming more health conscious. Off season vegetables fetch a very good price so there are incentives to grow such vegetables as well. There are plans to supply them in all superstores to begin with.
We can grow organic vegetables at home as well. This is time to plant loki, teenda, karalay, bhindi tori, ghia tori, tar, cucumber and mint. Some vegetables can be grown in pots like mint, tomato, chilli and aubergine. The District Government's Agriculture department has started a project by the name of 'Kitchen Gardening' to promote growing of vegetables at home. The project offers technical consultation to those who want assistance here plus free seeds and fertiliser but that is limited to 2000 homes enlisted in the project so far.
"We can save 11 million rupees on one acre of land if we plant cut flowers on it, there is so much potential in floriculture and agriculture in Pakistan," says Ata Muhammad Khan, Secretary Punjab Floriculture Development Council and Executive Committee Floriculture Development Projects.
"There are flowers with essential oils (scents) which are precious. We encourage people to go for cut flower plantation and that of scented flowers. Both plants and plant parts are valuable because scents are in different parts in different plants.
"We import cosmetics worth 9-10 billion rupees every year. If we develop our own cosmetic industry we will help reduce our imports so why not set an industry of flowers and natural scents," says Ata Muhammad Khan.
"The investment is back within three years time if we plant flowers -- just any kind. Essential oil is sold at the price of gold. We can establish its industry here. Its is not just flowers which have essential oils. Methi, ginger, mint also have essential oils. Some of the scents we have here are rosa centifolia, rosa demicina, tube rose, jasmine, ginger, citrus flowers, herbal plants and kino rind. There is wonderful essential oil in kino rind which we throw away.
1. Mini Market, Gulberg
2. Hussain Chowk
3. Bekhewal Morr
6. Barkat Market 7. Dharampura Canal Bridge
8. Liberty Market 9. Model Town Morr
10. Moon Market,
Allama Iqbal Town
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