Spring Fever 2016: Looking forward to the ides of March

  • Furquan Ameen Siddiqui, Hindustan Times, Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 12, 2016 13:36 IST
A session at last year’s Spring Fever festival. (Photo: Penguin)

For the ninth consecutive spring, book lovers visiting the India Habitat Centre can browse through and stuff their shopping baskets with books from among 5,000 titles published by Penguin and Random House.

As in its previous editions, this year’s Spring Fever festival of literature and culture will also feature several other attractions including panel discussions, sessions where authors discuss their work, and an open air book library. The last idea clearly grew out of an awareness of the absence of good public libraries. The Spring Fever library will be open throughout the day, which means avid readers can browse as much as they want. “The idea is to bring different genres and, depending on your interest, you might attend a session on history by Ram Guha or Sunil Khilnani. There is a session for fitness, and for cinema we have a session with Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The beauty of Spring Fever is that it is extremely varied in the kind of authors that we put out,” says Hemali Sodhi, senior vice president and publisher (children’s), Penguin India.

Historian and writer Ramachandra Guha will open the festival this year with an exclusive preview of his forthcoming book, a collection of essays entitled ‘Democrats and Dissenters’ that critically assesses the work of economist Amartya Sen and Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, and explores major political and cultural debates across India and the world.

Among the festival’s highlights is the presence of Sunil Khilnani, whose book on the 50 influential Indians who shaped India, examines the nation’s historical figures — some well known, others now only celebrated within their own communities in their home states, and still others now totally forgotten — to arrive at a greater understanding of the present. Other sessions that promise to be intellectually stimulating include ‘Pakistan is in the eye of the beholder’ that will feature well known figures from public life talking about the love-hate relationship that India and Pakistan share.

Children and young adults could perhaps gain valuable insights from the conversation between Srijan Pal Singh, aide to the late former president APJ Abdul Kalam, and educationist Anand Kumar, whose Super 30 programme has helped several economically-backward students achieve their dream of qualifying for the Indian Institute of Technology.

The glamour quotient at this year’s event promises to be high with the participation of Twinkle Khanna aka Mrs Funnybones, Emraan Hashmi, Sonali Bendre Behl, who will talk about parenting, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, who will hold forth on staying fit, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who will talk about his difficult ascent to stardom. ‘Kitaabein…’ will feature Gulzar on books, literature and poetry. ’Tis the season of literary festivals. This one promises to escape the fate of being a ‘me too’ by having a good mix of the high brow and the wildly popular.

The Challenge of Contemporary History
Ramachandra Guha previews his new work: 7 pm, March 15

A Piece of my Heart
Emraan Hashmi and Sonali Bendre Behl talk about parenting: 6 pm, March 20

Gulzar in conversation with Sunil Sethi on books, literature, and poetry: 7.30 pm, March 20

Spring it on
: Spring Fever 2016
When: 11 am to 7 pm; March 15-20; with sessions in the evening
Where: India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road

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