We are poking at an angry nature with sticks, says Amitav Ghosh at Khushwant Singh Literature festival

Published on Oct 15, 2022 03:19 AM IST

Discussing his latest book “The Nutmeg’s Curse”, author Amitav Ghosh argues that the dynamics of climate change are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by colonialism

Amitav Ghoshon the opening day of the Khushwant Singh Literature festival in Kasauli. (HT Photo)
Amitav Ghoshon the opening day of the Khushwant Singh Literature festival in Kasauli. (HT Photo)
ByAishwarya Khosla, Kasauli

Master storyteller Amitav Ghosh, who spins a parable for the environmental crisis in his latest book “The Nutmeg’s Curse”, set the tone for the three-day Khushwant Singh Literature festival that kicked off in Kasauli on Friday with the theme “The Climate of Change: Sprightly@75”.

In his novel, which is set in the volcanic Banda Islands, Ghosh argues that the dynamics of climate change are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by colonialism.

Emphasising on the importance of preserving indigenous traditions, the award-winning author said, “In colleges, students might be taught the economics of the nutmeg trade, but will they be taught the songs that celebrate these trees as ancient beings?”

Asked if there was no hope for the planet, The Shadow Lines author said, “We must not subscribe to the hope-despair binary, and do our karma and dharma. Nature is no longer inert as it was earlier thought to be, as we are learning through the emergence of pathogens and melting of glaciers. In the words of noted environmentalist Dr Wally Broecker, it is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks!”

Art of hijacking minds

In an interesting session on Alyque Padamsee’s last book “Let Me Hijack Your Mind: Restart Your Life With Freedom”, co-author Vandana Saxena Poria spoke to Cyrus Broacha and journalist Bachi Karkaria paid tribute to the advertising and theatre legend. Through an on-the-spot survey, the panel challenged core beliefs covering love, gender, marriage, money, leadership and education.

Actor and danseuse Mallika Sarabhai also discussed her book “In Free Fall” with columnist Malavika Sangghvi, where she spoke about her complicated relationship with food, struggle with anorexia and bulimia, and fad diets in an effort to stay thin. She also spoke about quitting cigarettes after 10 years of addiction with the help of hypnosis and other alternative therapies.

Commemorating Sri Aurobindo’s sesquicentennial (150) year of birth, author Gautam Chikermane, Devdip Ganguli of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, poet-JNU professor Makarand R Paranjape and author Monika Halan held forth on the philospher’s principles.

What’s on today

Those who missed Ghosh and Mahua Moitra on the first day of the festival, can catch them on Saturday as they discuss “Tigers of the Sundarbans”and “Cry, The Beloved Country”, respectively. The line-up also includes celebrity authors, such as Usha Uthup, Tushar Kapoor, Raza Murad and Divya Dutta from tinsel town.

Those interested in the history of Punjab, must catch civil servant Ramesh Inder Singh’s session on “Turmoil In Punjab: An Insider’s Account”. His co-panelists include Kanwar Sandhu and Gul Panag. Journalist Tarun Tejpal will also share his views in the session “Justice tempered”.

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