Mumbai’s only annual literature festival, Literature Live, opened to a small audience at Marine Drive’s Tata Theatre on Thursday morning, but by evening, it was houseful as Shashi Tharoor and Thomas Friedman – stars of the literary world – came on stage for the final session.
Friedman, a Pulitzer prize winning American journalist and author, quizzed Tharoor on the recent anti-corruption movement in India, the Congress MP said that the Lokpal Bill draft proposed by team Anna Hazare had the potential to turn into a powerful, oppressive institution like the Spanish Inquisition.
Calling Hazare a “74-year-old saintly individual”, Tharoor said, “The people who turned out in support of him are aware of what they are against –corruption – but they don’t know what they are for.”
“Do people want a supra-institution that has the power to investigate, prosecute and punish anyone form the prime minister to the judiciary? In the hands of someone less saintly, it can be damaging,” he added, insisting that there would be no Lokpal in every government clerk’s office to tackle the day to day corruption faced by Hazare’s mass supporters.
Friedman, who spoke about his books The World is Flat and That used to be Us at the literature festival, said that in the past decade, the state of American education, infrastructure and capital formation has fallen tremendously.
“The American political system has grown dysfunctional and it perhaps needs shock therapy in the form of a third political party,” said Friedman.
Organised by Mumbai author Anil Dharker, the Literature Live festival saw considerably larger audiences compared with last year, when it was first launched.