The 15th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival ends with reflection, hope and debate

Jaipur : The 15th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival concluded amid applause and fanfare today at Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur. The world’s biggest ‘hybrid’ literature Festival hosted around 600 speakers, artists and performers from across India and the world. The Pink City witnessed a variety of events namely an exclusive A Majestic Heritage Evening at Amer Fort on the 13th March 2022, the Jaipur Music Stage from 10th March-12th March 2022, and other satellite events including book launches, awards and parties hosted on the Festival’s fringes. The Festival featured conversations and debates ranging from language, war, politics, environment and climate change, gender issues, business, science and technology, history, cinema, art, travel, etc.

Yesterday saw an inspiring session on our craft legacy with the CEO of Tribe Amrapali, Akanksha Arora; designer Anavila Misra, politician and writer Smriti Zubin Irani and entrepreneur Himanshu Wardhan, in conversation with columnist and author Seema Goswami. Irani talked about how in the early 2000s, it was considered down-market to adorn a saree and call yourself a young professional. While talking about innovations, technology and sustainability, Irani said, “I also feel that there is a buzzword of sustainability and sustainable consumption across the world. And it is fascinating how the world is now waking up to the fact that India, from a perspective of craft and textile, was always predominantly sustainable.”

The last and final day of the literary celebration featured a session named Sounds of Silence with ‘Nada Yoga’ performed by Jenil Dholakia. During the session, Dholakia practised mantra-chanting and healing vibrations of Tibetan singing bowls.

Morning Music had musician Priya Kanungo mesmerising audiences by singing songs dedicated to Kabir and Meera.  

Today’s highlights: 


  • At a session called A Thousand Miles: To Hell and Back, award-winning filmmaker Vinod Kapri; award-winning TV journalist, anchor and columnist Barkha Dutt were in conversation with author Chinmay Tumbe. They discussed India’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak followed by a total shutdown which left millions of migrant workers stranded, starving and unemployed. Kapri’s 1232 Kms documents the journey of seven migrant workers to their village, a crisis faced by millions who were forced to walk hundreds of kilometres home, through deadly conditions, abandoned by an administration impervious to their hardship. During the conversation, Kapri said, “…state denial mode mein hai ki there is some crisis and media bhi denial mode mein hai… toh uske baad ye jo laakho mazdoor sadko par the, unki kahani aisi hi hogi jo hum logo ne dekhi.” Dutt covered the migrant exodus relentlessly and was on the road for months; her new book To Hell and Back: Humans of Covid tells the gripping, human stories of India’s pandemic and the stark inequalities across class, caste and gender. I realised soon that the humanitarian crisis was going to overshadow, in the first wave, the medical challenges of COVID,” Dutt said during the session.


  • Booker Prize-winning author DBC Pierre discussed his recent and riotous novel, Meanwhile in Dopamine City, with poet Jeet Thayil. During the session, Pierre discussed experimental fiction and the plea for heart and soul in these robotic times. Talking about his writing process during the night, Pierre said The whole world around you is dreaming and the air is probably full of dreams and it could be that I sit up stealing people’s dreams and writing them down!”  


  • At another session, award-winning poet, author and critic, Arundhathi Subramaniam discussed her book Women Who Wear Only Themselves: Yoga, Poetry and Culture with Managing Trustee at The Yuva Ekta Foundation, Puneeta Roy. During the conversation, Subramaniam discussed the confluence of literature, culture and yoga, the ultimate practice and meeting-place for individual consciousness and the universe. Later in the session, Subramaniam said, “…I do think that in subtle ways and sometimes in not so subtle ways, women walk the spiritual path somewhat differently.”.


  • Noble Laureate Abhijit V. Banerjee talked about his delectable cookbook Cooking To Save Your Life, along with illustrator Cheyenne Olivier and author of three best-selling novels, Devapriya Roy. In his book, Banerjee takes readers through the recipes that he has delighted his friends, colleagues, and students with, that range from charred avocado to Andhra pork ribs, deconstructed salade niçoise to trifle. “..I think that in an oblique way this is a book of social science…” said BanerjeeLater in the conversation, he spoke movingly of the bonds of food and memory, friendship and community, across cultures and continents.
  • At the Front Lawn, Publisher of Seagull Books, Naveen Kishore, talked about his book Knotted Grief with poet, critic, cultural theorist and independent curator Ranjit Hoskote.  During the session, while complementing Kishore on his book, Hoskote said, “It is amazing that this is your first book after decades of writing poetry and working with linguistic experiments somewhere in the intermediate zone between prose and poetry.” 


  • At a session called ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Women?’ bestselling author of The Madwoman of Jogare and Year of the Tiger, Sohaila Abdulali, was in conversation with feminist writer, publisher and activist Urvashi Butalia, where they talked about Sohaila’s book What We Talk about When We Talk About Rape. Abdulali has changed the way we speak about rape. Her book is an incisive, frank and urgent examination of sexual assault, rape culture and language as exercised by individuals, societies, and the world at large.


  • Any idea of contemporary India that we choose to subscribe to is influenced in great measure by a towering figure of the 20th century – Jawaharlal Nehru. As a flame of the nationalist and anti-imperial struggle, a visionary of democratic socialism and secularism, and as India’s first and longest-serving prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru is inextricable from the discourse surrounding modern India. Concluding the Festival was its much-awaited ‘Closing Debate’ with author Tripurdaman Singh; National Spokesperson of the BJP, Shazia Ilmi; noted lawyer Pinky Anand; writer Purushottam Agarwal; Lawyer, Professor and Political Economist AVi Singh; Former Chairperson of the National Commission, Wajahat Habibullah along with journalist, author and columnist, Vir Sanghvi.  During the debate, the panel argued if Nehru indeed was India’s greatest prime minister. As the discussion went on, Agarwal noted “…He (Nehru) was the greatest Prime Minister because of the challenges he had in heritage… the Partition..the per capita income….the British economic exploitation of the country..”.  Singh opined, “Look at where India was when Nehru left, there had been faltering planned economy, the second Five Year Plan was in the doldrums.. his foreign policy tinged with a quite potent mix of vanity and fantasy left to such an extent that even someone like Ambedkar, who I would call pretty close to Nehru in thought, was forced to really critique it.”

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