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world’s most magnificent on-ground tribute

Jaipur Literature Festival 2022

Day 3 of the world’s most magnificent on-ground tribute to literature unfolds in Jaipur 

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Preceded by a power-packed day 2 on-ground, with speakers from across the Indian subcontinent & the world, today was another memorable day at the 15th Jaipur Literature Festival. Notable sessions on Day 2 had included one on award-winning Norwegian writer Jan Grue’s soul-stirring memoir, I Live a Life Like Yours – about ‘the work of being myself in the world’, and another one on celebrated author Pavan K. Varma’s latest book, The Great Hindu Civilisation, that unravels the texts and legacies behind this ancient civilization and its many layers and belief systems.  

Day three of the world’s biggest ‘hybrid’ literary festival began with a soulful introduction to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama by writer, television producer-director, documentary filmmaker, and personal student of the Dalai Lama for whom he manages the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, Rajiv Mehrotra. The session spoke about the harmony between the mind, body, and soul. Mehrotra shared a combination of breathing exercises, correcting body posture, and a few tips to keep the mind at peace. Morning Music was graced by The Aahvaan Project where the group presented a philosophy of love, humanity, and kindness and created a space for harmony with their unique ability of storytelling through music. 

Today’s highlights: 

  • At a session, writer Anirudh Kanisetti discussed his book, Lords of the Deccan: Southern India from the Chalukyas to the Cholas, with critically acclaimed writer and historian Manu S. Pillai. The book is a testament to Kanisetti’s thoughtful and immense study of medieval South India and its influence on contemporary politics and culture. “What was invigorating was the book…it fills a major gap in the medieval period,” said Manu S. Pillai about Anirudh’s book. Both writers came together for a fascinating conversation on the lords and legacies of the Deccan. 
  • Another session, the founder and publisher of Roli Books, Pramod Kapoor; officer-in-charge, the Naval History Project, Srikant B. Kesnur and former Managing Editor, India Today magazine, Sandeep Unnithan, discussed Kapoor’s book 1946: Naval Uprising That Shook the Empireand termed it as an enlightening, necessary history of the salient saga and the significance of India and its people to that most crucial of British instruments, the Navy. 
  • The evolution of modern India is a unique offering to the historical, socio-political, and psychological study of nationhood. Saket Suman’s enlightening book, The Psychology of a Patriot, presents a thought-provoking chronicle of India. In conversation with author and academic Mukulika Banerjee, the panel discussed the coming of age of an entire nation, focusing on its foundations and the future. At the session, Suman said, “Liberty and Equality give patriotism its authority…Patriotism means different things to different people because in our society, we have different standards of judging people. We must respect each other and believe that all are equal in our nation and all nations in the world are equal. When there is equality in and among all nations, there will be harmony in the planet. When there is harmony in the planet, patriotism will drive our zeal to find solutions to mankind's gravest problems, to address inequality and give everybody the dignity of our shared evolution from apes to humans. Until then, patriotism will remain a sham, an invisible moral authority that prevents us from seeing that there are greater things at play, that there are deep states, the corporations and the powers that be, those that do not go away with the rise and fall of governments or uprisings of the people.”  
  • At another session, historian and writer Marc David Baer talked about his book The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs with historian, author and Festival Co-Director, William Dalrymple. Baer’s book unravels Western notions of sexuality, orientalism, genocide and history through the chronicles of a formidable world empire. Baer opened the session by arguing that Ottomans weren’t popular until very recently: “ Thirty years ago… it wasn't very popular in Turkey; it was always popular among some Islamists and some on the far-right but you didn't have Ottoman restaurants and you didn’t have these amazing television series….” Baer’s book challenges traditional notions of the vast Ottoman Empire, illuminating a cultural domain that was not the antithesis to the Christian-European West but its equal. 
  • At an informative session, historian and acclaimed writer Manu S. Pillai discussed his new book, False Allies: India’s Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma, with Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram and bestselling author, Shashi Tharoor. The duo talked about the history of India’s maharajahs with author and historian Ira Mukhoty. Pillai noted that the reason he took up the challenge to write the book was because 40% of the Indian subcontinent, even under the Raj, was actually under the princely states. During the conversation, Pillai said that he calls maharajahs  false allies “because there were ways and means by which even the maharajahs actually resisted colonial influence”. About the book, Shashi Tharoor said: “…this was worth writing, worth studying and there is indeed a great deal that happened in the princely states that we tend to overlook when we study the history of India.” 
  • At the Bank of Baroda Mughal Tent, a session featured former diplomat, Ambassador Navdeep Suri; US Chargé d’Affaires, Patricia A. Lacina; the Australian High Commissioner to India, H.E. Barry O' Farrell; former Indian diplomat and the 32nd Foreign Secretary of India, Vijay Gokhale; and the Deputy British High Commissioner to India, Jan Thompson. The panel discussed the Indo-pacific, QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) and how like-minded nations should stay together to protect a rule-based global order.  
  • At a very well-attended session, Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra and former diplomat, politician and author Pavan K. Varma were in conversation with media veteran & writer Sudha Sadanand in a session called Telling It Like It Is. The session focused on the power of dissent.At the session, Varma said, “…the greatest threat to democracy is the belief by a person or any set of people that they have a monopoly over the  truth. That puts an end to dialogue and the possibility of civilised dissent which is so essential for a democracy.” Moitra added, “…Majority is important for a democracy to function but… majoritarianism is against the very essence of democracy.” During their discussion, Moitra emphasised that space for dissent is shrinking and noted that only when a society uses dissent constructively, it can progress.  
  • The Festival hosted a panel discussion featuring Founder & Creative Director of Janavi India, Jyotika Jhalani; Fashion Designer Manish Malhotra; Principal Designer and Director at Designwise India Mukul Goyal; IP lawyer and Strategist, Safir Anand; IP Counsel, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Viji Malkani, in conversation with Managing Director, Teamwork Arts and Festival Producer, Sanjoy K Roy. The panel launched Safir Anand’s book Chrysalis, an insightful coffee table book, which serves as a tribute to corporate big-wigs who form the coveted client list of the legendary law firm Anand and Anand. Talking about the Festival, Malhotra said, “It’s always a pleasure to be here because it’s a Festival from his [Sanjoy’s] heart. It all starts from there!” The session also focused on the importance of inclusivity.  
  • At another session, Director Arts, India, British Council, Jonathan Kennedy; Founder, ArtX Company, Rashmi Dhanwani; Managing Director of Teamwork Arts and Festival Producer, Sanjoy K. Roy, were in conversation with scholar and founder of Kri Foundation, Arshiya Sethi, who was introduced by Barbara Wickham. They came together to discuss the deepening impact of Covid-19 on India’s creative economy. During the conversation, Roy said, “…In the UK, for example, the creative industries provide about 11.7% contribution to the GDP which aggregates collectively what the banking and the financial industry and what the gas and the resources industry produce for the UK.”  
  • Every year, the Jaipur Literature Festival celebrates poetry as one of literature’s most effective and influential art forms. The rich programme recognizes the best amongst India’s plethora of young and talented poets announcing the Mahakavi Kanhaiyalal Sethia Award for Poetry. In association with the Mahakavi Kanhaiyalal Sethia Foundation, the award is a tribute to Mahakavi Kanhaiyalal Sethia and his immense repertoire. The jury panel was graced by Hon. Minister BD Kalla ji, Namita Gokhale, Sanjoy K. Roy, Jaiprakash Sethia, Nirupama Dutt, and Siddharth Sethia of the KL Sethia Foundation at the Bank of Baroda Mughal tent of the festival’s new home Hotel Clarks.  Cultural theorist and curator, Ranjit Hoskote was honored as this year’s winner of the 7th Mahakavi Kanhaiyalal Sethia Poetry Award 2022, following a unanimous decision by the jury committee.  an eminent jury comprising renowned litterateurs and discerning connoisseurs like Namita Gokhale, Sanjoy K. Roy, Jaiprakash Sethia, Nirupama Dutt, and Siddharth Sethia of the KL Sethia Foundation. 
  • At a session entitled ‘Changing Equations: Reading our Times’, two debut novelists Shivani Sibal and Simran Dhir, discussed their recent books. They also presented a sharp critique of the changing times. Sibal’s book ‘Equations’ is an intergenerational account of the Sikand’s of Sikand House and Dhir’s work ‘Best Intentions’, is a complex saga of emotions, idealism, familial bonds and ruthless ambitions. Both the books both deep-dive in Delhi’s layered realities and contradictions.  In an intriguing conversation about motivation behind their writing, and the very process of crafting their books, the duo debutants were in conversation with the editor-in-chief of Ajio Luxe, Supriya Dravid.

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