The day began with Sunil Gangopadhyay talking about the characters of his bestseller, Sei Somoy (Those Days) that was translated into English by Aruna Chakravorty. Chakravorty read out a passage from the sequel First Light and Gangopadhyay explained that he wrote this story because he wanted the younger generation to know that once Bengal had re-united after an earlier partition and though he did not “foresee it happening in the near future”, he felt they must know about it.
Simon Schama, addressing the dichotomy between the academia of art and the aesthetic experience of it, showed slides of Rembrandt and Rothko’s works. He spoke about the history of art academia from Plato to Pliny and Vasari and even quoted a passage from his own book, Rembrandt’s Eyes.
Ashis Nandy asked why Switzerland, “a country smaller than Kerala, has four national languages when we unofficially have two… In the name of maintaining a nation-state, our languages have been classified as dialects.”
Linguist Udaya Narayana Singh pointed out according to the UNESCO Atlas for Endangered Languages, there are 68 to 71 endangered languages in India.
Ad man Prasoon Joshi, in contrast, said that for every language that was dying out, a new one was being born. “Today there are two forms of Hinglish. One is spoken by those proficient in English and use Hindi to spice it up and another spoken by those who speak Hindi but learn some words of English for survival.”