Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges once said, “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Swapnil Tembe has created, if not a paradise, an oasis outside his office in Tura.
A medium-sized wooden book rack stands on the passage outside the main office. Though humble, the collection of books has a blend of fiction and non-fiction, including books on politics, by both Indian and international authors.
While the daily office work goes on and people run around with files and documents, and visitors wait for an audience with the deputy commissioner, one can always take a break from the monotony and sift through the books or pick one for later read.
In one of his posts on the official Facebook page of the West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner’s office, Tembe wrote, “Donate books for YOUR LIBRARY – When visiting DC office, you can bring old books/novels/educative magazines etc which you wish to donate. Simply keep it in the YOUR LIBRARY shelves so that others can use them. Thank you to all who have already donated for this.”
When asked about the reason for such an initiative that began in September 2022, the deputy commissioner, who had earlier featured in news reports for his innovative people’s programmes and initiatives for education in East Garo Hills, Tembe told Sunday Monitor during a visit to his office reading is not a popular choice in the district and this initiative may pique the interest of some.
“True, we have the option of ebooks in today’s time of technology but nothing can replace the fun of taking a book in your hands and getting immersed in it. I want to encourage reading habit not only among the youth but also people from other age groups,” he added.
Among the collection in the DC office library are A Life in Politics, an autobiography by PA Sangma, The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, The Portrait of A Lady by Khushwant Singh, and The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. Some books have multiple copies.
Tembe, who took charge as deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills in May this year, informed that anyone can take any book and there is no log system. “We have faith in people. Many books in the library have been donated by citizens. Anyone can donate any book,” he said.
The IAS officer has also taken other initiatives in the field of education. In one of his Facebook posts, he was seen browsing through books at a small bookstall. “Visited several book shops of Tura and encouraged them to ensure availability of Newspapers and books/magazines for all the competitive exams so that our youth can buy them from Tura itself and do not have to go to Guwahati etc. I encourage all youth to inculcate habit of reading,” the caption said.
Earlier this month, an UPAY centre was inaugurated at Rebugre in Dadenggre in collaboration with the district administration and UPAY, an NGO working for education of children across India. This centre aims at bridging the gaps in the learning process and reducing the number of dropouts by conducting after-school classes.