Jaipur literary fest gets off to exciting start

January 21st, 2009 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Amitabh BachchanJaipur, Jan 21 (IANS) Pledging to promote diverse genres of writing, both foreign and indigenous, the fourth edition of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival Wednesday kicked off to an exciting session of reading and discussion featuring novelist Vikram Seth.The festival was inaugurated by Rajasthan Governor S.K. Singh and noted author-activist U.R. Ananthamurthy in the packed Durbar Hall of the sprawling Diggy Palace that was done up in intricate “meena” floral motifs of blue and red on arched pillars and ceilings of ochre and cream, with the audience comprising literature lovers, students, foreign and Indian authors, local residents and a large media contingent from India and abroad.

Delivering the keynote address, Ananthamurthy said: “In India, we have always lived in the ambience of languages and this multiplicity brings a kind of richness to our culture. We have to work and live together in this diverse context.” He also narrated anecdotes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha and from life of poet Kalidas to support his argument.

The festival features 167 authors - a number that shot up substantially because of last-minute additions - from 11 countries and almost an equal number of publishers and industry stake-holders.

The guest list includes the likes of Neville Tuli, the chairman of the Mumbai-based art auction house Osian’s that is taking part for the first time, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) director general Pavan Varma and Bollywood Amitabh Bachchan, who will attend a reading session of his biography “Bachchanalia”.

Also attending are big names from the social and literary circuits of Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur.

Singling out the contentious issues confronting contemporary Indian literature, Varma said writing in English in India occupies a disproportionately large space in the literary landscape.

“But a great deal of this writing is transparently derogative. As a consequence, so much of good writing in Indian languages is not being able to find respect and a platform. We must look at ways to bridge the divide,” Varma maintained.

He stressed the need for a change of mindsets and said “in order to do this, translations from Indian languages have to be upgraded. Several languages of potential are boxed in their own worlds,” Varma maintained.

Indian contemporary literature, according to Varma, was also marked by deep segregation. “Those who write in English have little interest or inclination to know what is being written in other Indian languages. Several authors who write in English have read Shakespeare, but not Kalidas,” he pointed out.

Tuli made a strong statement when he said there was a rift between idealism and materialism. “For the last 10 years, we have been we have been trying to build several platforms to merge the two into a mutually respectable model. It takes at least 10-20 years to build that first platform. Each individual must realize within themselves that wealth is supposed to serve creativity and not the other way round,” Tuli contended.

Governor Singh said creative literature was a strange thing because writers were judged by those who did not know how to judge. “Judging has now become a major business because of technology, Internet, television and the proliferation of literary agents in the market,” he said.

Contentions apart, the organizers of the festival are ready to carry it to the next level in 2010. “We are talking to the Rajasthan government. Next year, we hope to expand the venues, extend timings and include every city, town and villages across the state,” Faith Singh of the Jaipur Virasat Foundation that conceived the festival four years ago.

As part of its commitment to promote literature among students, the festival for the first time has also created special bursaries for students from the far-flung states to attend the sessions.

The festival ends Jan 25.

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