Thursday, October 29, 2015

Literature lovers have a new delight at Mumbai

This article can be read here as well.

Mumbai, October 29, 2015: After what seemed more like enthusiasm to meet some great authors than a crowd trying to get past the security personnel’s bulky arm, TATA Literature Live!: The Mumbai LitFest finally kickstarted at the National Centre of the Performing Arts (NCPA). The opening ceremony was graced by Vikram Seth, famed author of ‘A Suitable Boy’, Germaine Greer, the feminist author famous for her works like The Female Eunuch and the more recent White Beech: The Rainforest Years, who has many times kicked up quite a few storms for her libertarian thoughts and provocative writing. Mr. Anil Dharker, Founder and Festival Director, Dr. Mukund Rajan, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons, and Mr. Khushroo Suntook, Chairman, NCPA were some of the other dignitaries present at the inaugural session.
Germaine Greer in  conversation with Vikram Seth on 'Can books change the World' at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2015

(L-R) Khushroo Suntook, Chairman, NCPA, Anil Dharker, Founder and Festival Director, Germaine Greer, Vikram Seth and Dr. Mukund Rajan, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons, unveiling the festival brochure at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2015
“Books are a part of the world; it is a categorical mistake to think that they would change the world. They are a part of the process of change. Books are made by the reader, sometimes they can even make a bad book extraordinary, sometimes you get an Illiad and sometimes it can be a Fifty Shades of Grey,” said Greer in conversation with Seth on the topic ‘Can books change the world?’ Seth, seemingly enraptured by Greer’s nonchalant conversation, added, “I agree to that, I find my book Two Lives extremely sloppy. But it seems like they enjoyed reading it.” From cockroaches to copyrights, the audience had a range of information for them to ruminate upon. They did have names of books, which had the potential to change the world, to offer towards the end of the session.
After a seemingly refreshing discussion with the wild hearted Greer, Chacha pe Charcha saw a panel discussion with Anil Dharker, Nayantara Sahgal, writer and Jawaharlal Nehru’s niece, Vir Sanghvi, Journalist and Arun Maira, former member of Planning Commission of India; revaluating Nehru’s contribution to India. Sahgal tried to explain the context of an India when Nehru had taken over as the first prime minister of independent India. She emphasised that he contributed something out of nothing and that secularism was not a policy adopted by him but was already adopted by the spearheads of the freedom movement. What was greeted with claps was the statement that the Hindu Code Bill demonstrated Nehru’s policy making that was ‘consensual’.
Nehru had his share of brickbats to face as well. Sanghvi said, “Nehru paid less attention to the rights of individuals and more attention to groups. That he burned certain books thinking it would promote secularism was one of his mistakes and being attentive in order to include everyone’s views has cost us now.”
According to Sahgal, who fought with her cousin Indira Gandhi during the Emergency, momentum found during the post independence period ran out after 20 years with Indira probably having gone the wrong way.
An interesting vein was struck when one wanted to know what Nehru would have done if he were alive today. On a lighter note, he would have sacked Krishna Menon, his ally, who seemingly rubbed Americans the wrong way. Nehru, according to Sahgal, would have pushed for the Uniform Civil Code which he had wanted since long but was afraid that it would take many more years to get everyone to agree to it.

‘Dedicated to celebrating the written word in all its glorious forms’, this fest offers Mumbai a chance to participate in the many joys of literature. Over 120 writers, thinkers and performers from all over the world are expected to participate during its many events this year at the NCPA and the Prithvi Theatre.

Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest is on till Nov 1.
Entry to the festival will be free and on a firest-come, first-served basis.
For more details about the fest, click here.

Image Courtesy: From the official press release of Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2015.

- Divya Nambiar

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