Pune: Amid concerns being expressed over the decline in the book-reading habit in the present generation, 67-year-old Jeevan Ingale, a resident of in Khatav tehsil of Maharashtra's Satara district, has been on a mission to inculcate this habit among the young and old alike in the surrounding areas as he pedals his library on bicycle to lend books to them.
Ingale, a bibliophile from a small village called Budh in Khatav tehsil and an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi's thoughts, started the initiative 12 years ago and now his mobile library project has become popular among children and adults in the area.
"I have studied only up to Class 11, but I always had a penchant for reading. I used to read Gandhiji and was also inspired by Sane Guruji (Marathi author and freedom fighter) and his book 'Shyam Chi Aai'. After spending a few years with Shetkari Sanghatana, I quit the movement and decided to do something related to books," Ingale told PTI.
He said he had around 70 books in 2007 and launched a non-profit organisation called 'Sarvodaya Social Organisation'. Currently, he has over 2,600 books, which he lends to around 500 members of his mobile library.
"Initially, I used to carry books with me. Wherever I went, I used to offer books to people and encourage them to read. I received a good response as people started taking the books and reading them," said Ingale, whose father had joined India's freedom struggle at the age of 16 after Mahatma Gandhi gave the 'Chale Jao' call against the British.
Reading helped Ingale to form his own opinions on various issues. He then started recommending books to people, which could help them in their intellectual growth.
Ingale said that as he also works for the environment conservation, he decided to use a bicycle to reach out to people.
"I started using a bicycle on which I fixed a small box to carry books and started pedaling it to the nearby villages in the tehsil. I started encouraging children, students, their parents and family members to read books," he said.
He charges only one rupee as library membership fee from people and lends books to them.
"The idea to start a mobile library struck my mind after I realised that the government-run libraries were non-functional in rural areas. I came up with the plan to take a library at people's doorstep and inculcate reading habit among them by lending books on various subjects like spirituality, history, biographies of some great personalities, and also on science, which help in the growth of scientific temperament," he said.
"When I return to households to exchange books, I ask people to give their feedback on the books and also urge them to write it. I discuss about books with the members during such visits," he said.
Kajal Barge, an engineering student, one of the members of Ingale's library, said that she and her entire family have been reading the books since the last several years.
"Once while I was returning from college when I was in Class 11, Ingale sir approached me and offered 'Ek Hota Carver' (a Marathi) book and encouraged me to read it. I read the book and developed a liking for reading. So far, I have read several books, which have enriched my life," she said.