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Khushwant Singh Lit Fest to kick off on October 12 in Kasauli

First held in 2012, the literary festival was the only to be named after a living author. Since Khushwant Singh did most of his writing in Kasauli, it was only fitting that the festival be organised at the hill station.

punjab Updated: Oct 11, 2018 15:12 IST
Aishwarya Khosla
Aishwarya Khosla
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Khushwant Singh Lit Fest,Khushwant Singh,Kasauli Club
Kishie Singh (left) and Rahul Singh during a press conference in Chandigarh on Wednesday. (HT Photo )

The much-awaited Khushwant Singh literary festival is back with its seventh edition. The three-day festival will begin at the Kasauli Club in Kasauli on Friday.

First held in 2012, the literary festival was the only to be named after a living author. Since Khushwant Singh did most of his writing in Kasauli, it was only fitting that the festival be organised at the hill station.

“It was the first litfest to be organised in Himachal Pradesh. Though many festivals were subsequently held, our’s is the only one that has continuously been organised,” says Khushwant Singh’s son Rahul Singh.

The festival prides itself to be with a cause and is dedicated to the education of the girl child, ecology of Kasauli and to the Indian soldier. This year’s theme is a topical one – “Strength of the naari: The rise of women in the age of #MeToo”.

Speaking on the subject, Niloufer Bilimoria, who is credited with coming up with the idea of holding a litfest in honour of Khushwant Singh in Kasauli, said, “Though most people believe Khushwant Singh was a womaniser, people close to him knew him to be quite the opposite. He was a supporter of women’s rights and his name would never have featured in the #MeToo exposé.”

Maja Daruwala, daughter of Sam Manekshaw, the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of a field marshal, will talk about how women’s rights are essentially human rights.

Jairam Ramesh will be speaking on ‘The man behind the woman’ with Mark Tully. Hot topics such as triple talaq, Section 377, adultery, and opening the male-only Sabarimala temple to women will also be discussed.

The festival will also laud women achievers from the past and the present.

The legacy of Amrita Pritam will be invoked by Nirupama Dutt and Divya Dutta in a session called Hamari Amrita.

A new addition to this year’s festival is a session on foods and drinks with Tara Deshpande and Desmond Nazareth, who will be enlightening the audience about the forgotten native brews of India.

Khushwant Singh literary festival has never shied away from discussing the contentious relations between India and Pakistan. One of the highlights of the festival this year will be a discussion on the controversial book, The Spy Chronicles, by former RAW head AS Dulat and his Pakistani counterpart Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durani, who was banned from leaving the country, following the book’s publication. Saeeda Hameed and Seema Mustafa will discuss the life of former Pakistan prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, as a man born to be hanged.

Rahul Singh says, “Though every year, the festival invites writers from Pakistan, this year we were unable to invite anybody, because of the current state of relations between the two countries.”

The question, “Is Imran Khan good for India?”, will also be taken up.

This year’s speakers, include Shashi Tharoor, Karan Thapar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Gurucharan Das, Prem Shankar Jha, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Jai Ram Ramesh, Nirupama Dutt, Kishwar Desai, Desmond Nazareth, Divya Dutta, Saeed Mirza, Wendell Rodricks.

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 09:10 IST