World’s biggest literary ‘hybrid’ festival features an array of eloquent speakers at Hotel Clarks, Amer

Jaipur, 13 March : On Sunday  the day four of this year’s edition of the on-ground Jaipur Literature Festival unfolded at its usual ecstatic pace. The Previous day saw a session which featured the Member of Parliament and bestselling author, Shashi Tharoor in conversation with  journalist, author and columnist Vir Sanghvi. Tharoor is a widely popular and prolific wordsmith who has written over 20 books. During the conversation, Tharoor discussed his love for reading and shared his ideas, insights, convictions with Sanghvi. Commenting on the state of Indian diversity, Tharoor remarked that he is worried. 

“An India that is denied to some of us will be denied to all of us”, said Tharoor. In a session entitled Ancient India: Culture of Contradictions, renowned professor Upinder Singh, author of Political Violence in Ancient India and The Idea of Ancient India: Essays on Religion, Politics, and Archaeology was in conversation with historian, author and Festival Co-Director, William Dalrymple.

The fourth day of the literary extravaganza opened at the Front Lawn with a yoga session by Nutrition Consultant and Yoga Teacher, Shikha Mehra. Mehra began her practice by demonstrating the body breath awareness and a flow routine which awakens the entire body, activates the muscles, reduces stiffness and tension in the body and mind. The session ended with a pacifying practice of pranayama. 

Spreading some morning bliss to the rich festival, the stage was graced by The Aahvaan Project where the group presented a philosophy of love, humanity, and kindness, creating a space for harmony with their unique ability of storytelling via music. Deeply moved by the words of Kabir, musicians Sumit Balakrishnan, Anirban Gosh, Vedi Sinha, Varun Gupta and Nikhil Vasudevan represented a performance which created a space for harmony in the rigmarole of everyday life.

 At a panel discussion composed of violinist Ambi Subramaniam; leading film composer and singer, Shekhar Ravjiani; musician Ayaan Ali Bangash; and research-led writer and curator Sadhana Rao talked about what raga means to each of them and their personal journeys of learning and understanding ragas. By its very nature, raga promises the immortality of creation, expression and freedom. 

The ancient and unparalleled system of ragas provide melodic frameworks that beckon the talents of improvisation and composition and nurture the range, the complexities, of emotion, expression and metamorphosis. Masters and exponents of Indian Classical, contemporary, and genre-defying music came together for a captivating conversation at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2022. During the conversation, Ravjiani said, “...for me raag is an emotion… When I start a composition there is a raag playing in my head, ab vo raag ka naam kya hai mujhe nahi pata, jab banata hoon uske log kehte hai ki…this song takes us to a bahar… ”

   During a panel discussion on the power of mother earth in our lives, wildlife, conservation,   literature and healing; award-winning British poet Ruth Padel and Conservation Biologist, author and columnist Neha Sinha were in conversation with forester and writer Vandana Singh-Lal. At the session, Padel talked about her book, “Where The Serpent Lives” and read a few passages from it while Sinha proceeded to read excerpts from her work , “Wild and Wilful”. 

On how humans should engage with forests, Sinha noted, "The thing to be afraid of in the forest is… if you keep the boundary they [animals] respect you and I don't think people always respect's an inalienable power to being a human being, to have places we can go to which we haven't made, which have made themselves and have wilful and wild processes”.

 Film critic and writer Anupama Chopra’s A Place in My Heart is an ode to the power of storytelling, the magic of cinema, and the adoration of cinema-goers. In conversation with writer Shunali Khullar Shroff, Chopra unravels her place of work and worship, the films that have shaped her long career and fuelled personal intrigue. During the conversation, Chopra also talked about celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Karan Johar and Zoya Akhtar.

 At the Jan Michalski Foundation Baithak, owner of Design Directions Pvt. Ltd Satish Gokhale was in conversation with Founder and Director of ARCH College of Design & Business Archana Surana. The session emphasized on the role of farsighted leadership, encompassing a deeper and more empathetic approach to both people and environment,  keeping in mind a harmonious relationship between the planet and human society.

 The Hindi language has become the new 'cool', especially among the millennials. The new digital media, podcast channels and social media platforms have given a stage to those who have not only grown up loving the language, but have also earned their bread and butter through it. From being treated as a difficult language of the past, it has become the preferred mode of creative expression. At a session focused on Is Hindi the New 'Cool'? authors Divya Prakash Dubey and Nishant Jain discussed “What is the story behind this change? Who are the key players? What is the way forward?” with publisher and editor Aditi Maheshwari-Goyal.

 At another session, Member of Parliament and bestselling author, Shashi Tharoor; Retired Judge Madan B Lokur; journalist, reporter and columnist Swati Chaturvedi and entrepreneur and investor Mohit Satyanand talked about state surveillance and what that means for all of us. While talking about the surveillance of the state, Satyanand said, “I might dare to call it surveillance fascism”.

 Tharoor said that he doesn’t like to use words like fascism too easily because they become a term of abuse rather than a term of analysis but noted that “the surveillance state has certainly been growing…”. The panel discussion focused on the digital age and how the condition of modern governance relies on the covert power of observation.

 At a session called ‘Delhi: The City and Its People’, writer M Mukundan, Empanelled Copyeditor Nandakumar K, former Associate Professor of English in the Kerala Government Service Fathima EV were in conversation with art historian Alka Pande. The panel discussed Mukunandan’s utterly fascinating novel and the process of a collaborative translation.

 At one of the sessions at the festival, Indian politician and author, Smriti Zubin Irani presented her accomplished debut novel, Lal Salaam. It's a story of grit and resilience that seeks to humanise daily conflicts and ethical dilemmas in violence-hit areas. In conversation with journalist Pragya Tiwari, Irani shared the impulses that drove her to write this remarkable page-turner and the inspirations behind her work. 

During the conversation, Irani spoke about the research she did for the book over a decade and described Sanjoy K. Roy’s kind reaction about receiving the book. She said, “ For me the book is a celebration of sacrifices of many individuals who will never be spoken of but who’ve believed in the constitution, upheld the values of that constitution, not take up arms against your own country...and I think that this is a book as a tribute to them”.