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Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 begins amidst much fanfare

Resham Sengar

Jaipur: Amid a jam packed venue of keen book lovers who were here to catch a glimpse of the literature heavy weights, the 2013 edition of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival started with an inauguration speech by high-ranking author and social activist Mahasweta Devi.

She reflected on her long and illustrious life and writing career in a speech laced with references to the rich world of ideas she has imbibed from the tribal and rural cultures that have been the subject of her work till date.

Having written on the “culture of the downtrodden” throughout her life, Mahasweta Devi referred to the simple dreams of simple people in her speech.

She called for the “right to dream” to be the first fundamental right of all human beings.

In a speech poignantly titled ‘O to Live Again’ renowned author Mahasweta Devi set the tone for a meaningful exchange of ideas through the rest of the festival. “My early years proved to be formative for my future work as a writer and activist. I also have different approach to my writing process and I mull over the subjects in depth before setting out on the creative journey,” said the distinguished literary personality.

The five day long extravaganza of literature that began today promises to bring together renowned authors, thinkers, philosophers from around the world to Jaipur. It will have speakers who will bring their thoughts, ideas, journeys and experiences to the Festival through debates, discussions and readings.

Present on the occasion was Ashok Gehlot - CM Rajasthan and Margaret Alva - Governor of Rajasthan who seemed in a jovial mood thanks to the lively Buddhist chants and the wonderful Rajasthani folk drum beats for triggering that endorphin flow in the brain. They lit the ‘lamp of learning’ along with the festival directors Namita Gokhale, William Darymple and organiser Sanjoy Roy to mark the official beginning of the event.

Commenting on this, Namita Gokhale, co-director – DSC Jaipur Literature Festival said, “We are delighted to begin the event with Mahasweta Devi’s warm keynote which was not only inspiring but thought provoking. She has been constantly working for Human Rights and Women rights to bring a change in the society.”

The other sessions of the day were ‘Remembering Sunil Da’ that saw the attendance of Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore, Aruna Chakravarti - a noted academic, writer and translator, book translator Arunava Sinha, world famous author cum academic Amit Chaudhuri and was moderated by Malashri Lal whose the Joint Director of the University of Delhi, South Campus and a Professor in University of Delhi’s Department of English. It was a session that marked the tribute to iconic author Sunil Gandopadhya and focussed on his journey in the Indian Literature. Another session that caught the visitors’ attention was Colliding Worlds: The Quest for Justice’ that spoke across the divides of ideology and conventional identity tags. There was an intriguing session by musical genius Javed Akhtar and and Ameena Saiyid, managing director, Oxford University Press, Pakistan called ‘Ismat and Annie’.

It was a thought-provoking session where two brilliant minds discussed literary argument between two Urdu writers Ismat Chughtai and Qurrat-ul-Ain Haider.