Saturday, February 11, 2017

Delhi gears up for its homegrown lit fest

Sreija Naskar,

Image from article, with caption: (L-R): Ratna Kaul, Taslima Nasreen and Parull Mahaajan.

Delhi’s very own literature festival is being organised from 10-12 February, 2017, at one of the most prominent and centrally-located venues here — the Dilli Haat, opposite INA Market. Organised with the objective of promoting arts and literature, and to provide a platform to young authors and publishers, the first chapter of the Delhi Literature Festival (DLF)was inaugurated in 2013 by the then Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit. Since then, the last four editions have seen active participation from high-profile politicians, as well as award-winning authors, diplomats, publishers, artists, journalists, bloggers, and last but not least the thousands of book lovers of this city.

DLF 2017 will witness talks and discussions by eminent authors, poets and bureaucrats — including Ashok Vajpayee, Munawwar Rana, Dr. Alexander Evans, Navtej Sarna, Vikas Swaroop, Baldeo Bhai Sharma, Christopher Doyle, Ashok Chakradhar, Sanjaya Baru, Kumar Vishwas, William Dalrymple, Omair Ahmad, Saba Naqvi, Avirook Sen, Taslima Nasreen and many others from within India and abroad. The itinerary involves three days of panel discussions, book launches, poetry recitations, book readings and interactions with eminent authors, writers and bloggers.

The first day of the festival will open with a session dedicated to the “City of Delhi”, where author Swapna Liddle would talk about her book Chandni Chowk: The Mughal City of Old Delhi. Budding writers could learn what goes in a bestseller from the festival’s session with the young bestselling author Ira Trivedi who has written books like Love: Marriage and Sexuality in the 21st Century and The Great Indian Love Story among others. In fond remembrance of late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the event will also witness a tribute paid to him by way of a book-launch event: Dream Nation: Dear Kalam Sir, a book on Kalam by Jubie John will be released here, and the author will also be in discussion with Raghav Chadha.

The second day of the festival will start with a discussion on “The Relevance of Public Libraries”, set up by the Indian Public Library movement (IPLM), which is a multi-stakeholder initiative to revive public libraries across India — transforming them into vibrant, inclusive knowledge spaces. The afternoon will witness comic relief, too, as the popular Hindi poet Dr. Ashok Chakradhar will be reciting some of his poems. In the evening, acclaimed journalist Shekhar Gupta will be in a conversation with Binod Chaudhary, at the event titled “Making it Big: The Inspiring Story of Nepal’s First Billionaire in His Own Words”, the inspiring success story of one of Asia’s biggest businessmen, the man behind Wai noodles.

The third and final day will begin with a session with bestselling romantic fiction writer Ravinder Singh. In the afternoon, acclaimed Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin will be speaking on her new novel Exile with Barkha Dutt. With the fall of dawn, historian William Dalrymple will talk about his latest book Kohinoor.

Ratan Kaul, who is the senior advisor to the LitFest and Vice President for ICUNR and Kashmiriyat Preservation foundation, says, “Finally, Delhi has its own capital fest, the original one. If India has to take its rightful place in the country of nations, then it has to showcase its soft power to the world. And what better way than a literary fest? As a matter of fact, my personal drive is to involve as many diplomats as possible as a part of the exercise in ‘public diplomacy’. New Delhi being the diplomatic capital of India certainly helps.”

It goes without saying that the programme schedule (albeit tentative) of the Delhi Lit Fest, unlike other lit fests, is peppered with big names from diplomacy as well as central and state cabinets. Kapil Mishra, Minister of Art, Culture, Language and Tourism of the government of Delhi is scheduled to inaugurate the fest.

The current edition will for the first time offer a range of merchandise on Shakespeare as well as on Indian writers like Premchand, Tagore, Ghalib, Sahir Ludhianvi, among others. “The fifth edition of this much anticipated and eagerly awaited literary extravaganza, I’m certain, will be a gratifying and fulfilling experience,” adds Parull Mahaajan, social activist and advisor to the fest.

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