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Politics and literature: Delhi Lit Fest 2016 should be interesting

The three-day fest being held at Dilli Haat in INA will see a range of perspectives explored, ideas challenged, and possible solutions debated by an interesting line-up of panelists and moderators including authors, politicians and journalists.

books Updated: Jan 09, 2016 12:35 IST
Simar Bhasin
Delhi Lit Fest 2016

The three-day fest being held at Dilli Haat in INA will see a range of perspectives explored, ideas challenged, and possible solutions debated by an interesting line-up of panelists and moderators including authors, politicians and journalists.(delhiliteraturefestival.org)

The fourth Delhi Literature Festival that’s being held this weekend has an interesting line-up that includes many politicians and journalists.

The three-day fest being held at Dilli Haat in INA will see a range of perspectives explored, ideas challenged, and possible solutions debated by an interesting line-up of panelists and moderators including authors, politicians and journalists.

Quite unusually for a festival of this kind, a large number of state and central government officials will be hosted at the event that was inaugurated by Delhi’s art and culture minister Kapil Mishra, among other dignitaries.

Journalist Barkha Dutt with Arvind Kejriwal at the 2014 festival. (HT Photo)

As befitting the capital, the line-up at the Delhi Literature Festival and the topics under discussion are suitably political.

“Everyone in today’s world is interested in politics and current affairs. So, the aim is to make sure the youth remains engaged not only with literature but the happenings around,” says Kunal Gupta, advisor to the Delhi Literature Festival society.

Read: Writers withdraw from Bengaluru literature fest

Author Omair Ahmad, agrees. “One of the important aspects of democracy is to debate with people we necessarily won’t,” he says.

Naturally, hot button topics like the debate on tolerance and a few personalities who have been in the thick of the action will be part of the festival. Sessions to look forward to include the ‘Coming of the Age of Tolerance’ and ‘The Idea of India’. Columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was attacked by the Shiv Sena for launching a former Pakistan foreign minister’s book in Mumbai, will be part of the panel discussing the growing environment of intolerance. He hopes to make a strong case for building a strong India-Pakistan relationship even against the backdrop of the Pathankot terror attacks.

Writer and politician Shashi Tharoor with journalist Sandeep Choudhary at the 2015 fest. (HT Photo)

“We shouldn’t let terrorists derail the peace process. Not only politicians, artists should also consistently raise their voices” he says.

Delhi’s rich cultural and political history will form an essential part of the festival, that has been taglined ‘Aapka Apna’.

“Delhi is littered with the ruins of people we don’t really care about,” says Ahmad. It is this cultural history that he wishes to touch upon during the discussion of his

book ‘The Storyteller’s Tale’, which will be moderated by author Madhulika Liddle.

Other authors who will discuss their books include journalist Sankarshan Thakur and William Dalrymple. Sankarshan Thakur will be in conversation with News Nation journalist Ajay Kumar on his book ‘Brothers Bihari’ and the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad Yadav alliance in Bihar while Dalrymple will be launching his latest book, ‘Return of a King: The Battle of Afghanistan’ and follow it up with a discussion. This will be followed by a discussion that will no doubt touch on world politics as well.

Former Delhi CM Sheila Dixit at the 2013 festival (HT Photo)

There is also a focus on the world of publishing and its changing topography in the digital age. Rather puzzlingly, in the era of social media and microblogging, author Vikas Swarup, the current external affairs ministry spokesperson (best known as the author of the novel Q & A, which was adapted into the film Slumdog Millionaire) will be on a panel that discusses ‘Blogs versus Books’.

These panel discussions will be interspersed with poetry readings and live musical performances.

Writer F Scott Fitzgerald once stated that the beauty of literature is that “You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

It is this sense of belonging that perhaps ‘Aapka Apna’ Delhi Literature Festival hopes to promote. Naturally, the Dilliwala’s special interests will feature.

“Issues that will be discussed during the fest will deal with what bothers the people of Delhi and what really engages them”, says Kriti Upadhyaya, the event’s media co-ordinator.

It will be interesting to see how this heady mix of politics and literature comes together, and whether this platform will encourage healthy debate that is free of rancour.

WHERE: Dilli Haat, opposite INA market

WHEN: January 8-10

CONTACT: delhifestival@gmail.com