Friday, February 7, 2014

Comic books open window to literature: Tharoor


Comic books are usually sneered at but they help in understanding a subject easily because of graphics and pictorial representation, Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor said on Friday.

In his first public event post the Jan 17 death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar, the minister stayed away from commenting anything related to the tragedy.

"I have said whatever I wanted to during the conference, I have nothing else to share," Tharoor told reporters at the India Habitat Centre.

Speaking at a three-day international conference on "Literacy Through Literature", Tharoor touched upon different aspects of literature and its close association with literacy levels in the country.

One of the elements he passionately spoke about was the undermined status of comic books in India.

"Reading is important for many reasons and we always need to enrich because it transforms our lives. Reading comics at an early age helps in building this foundation," he said.

"Usually, comic books are sneered at, but they help in understanding a subject easily because of graphics and pictorial representation. We have grossly undermined the value of comic books," he added.

He credited his mother with encouraging him to be open to different kinds of literature during his formative years that have invariably shaped his reading habits.

Taking a leaf out of his personal experience, he mentioned how while he was learning French, he took to television and comic books to understand the language.

Author of many books like "The Great Indian Novel" and "India: From Midnight to the Millennium", Tharoor also shared his optimism about penetration of digital media in literature.

"There are many exaggerated claims of children spending less time in reading and spending more time on computer. But to me, even browsing and playing games also requires some sort of literacy," he said.

"We should see how because of the new media we can read all classic novels for free, can store as many as 100 books in our computer to read, how translation and sharing has become easy," he added, saying literature can benefit from digitisation.

"Digitisation has democratised knowledge. We should appreciate it and not see it as a threat," he added.