Kolkata : The grand celebration of India’s 75 years of independence at Arth – A Culture Fest Season 4, co-powered by Greenply, Macho Hint and Parachute, special partner- Protinex, showcased the brilliance of Indian culture and heritage in all its glory. The three-day musical and cultural extravaganza saw eminent personalities and industry stalwarts from all walks of life coming together to talk about India and how the last 75 years of freedom have shaped her to be what she is today. Adhering to government protocols and keeping in mind the safety of the viewers, the entire fest was live-streamed on the Facebook and YouTube channels of Arth – A Culture Fest.
The event was inaugurated with the lamp-lighting ceremony by Dr. Subhash Chandra,Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha and Chairman, Essel Group,Prasoon Joshi, Chairperson, Central Board of Film Certification,Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor-in-chief and CEO of Zee News, WION, Zee Business, Zee 24 Taas,Vikram Sampath,Festival Director, Arth – A Culture Fest, Author and Historian followed by akeynote address by Dr. Subhash Chandra. Following the address was a mesmerising Bharatanatyam performance by the distinguished dancer Rama Vaidyanathan. The brilliant performance gave way to a poignant discussion between Prasoon Joshi, Chairperson, Central Board of Film CertificationandYatindra Mishra, Writer, Poet & Scholaron the ‘Life and Voice of the late musical legend Lata Mangeshkar.’
When talking about the journey of India, one aspect that is synonymous with it is Atmanirbharta. Seen discussing this important aspect on ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat: Economic Ideology for India’s Future’ panel were Harsh Gupta Madhusudan, author & Investor& Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship of India. Furthermore, Vamshi Krishna Ghanapathi, Founder – Veda VijnaanaVishtaramoffered a glimpse into Indian heritage with ‘Vedic Chanting’.
The inaugural day of Arth – A Culture Fest Season 4 concluded on a high note with captivating discussions around prominent topics – ‘India@75: A Youth Manifesto for the future’ between AvaniLekhara,Indian Paralympian and rifle shooter,Palghat Ramprasad, Prerna Gill, Author, and Sudhanshu Kaushik, Founder of Young India Foundation and North American Association of Indian Studentsthat was moderated by Rajeev Mantri, founder and managing director, Navam Capital and ‘Unravelling The Truth: The Kashmir Files’between actors- Anupam Kher, Darshan KumaarandDirectorVivek Ranjan Agnihotri, moderated byjournalist, Aditi Tyagi.
The second day of the fest was an amalgamation of political, spiritual, cultural, and social topics discussed by industry stalwarts. The day started with an important discussion around ‘Hinduism & Hindutva: Different Sides of Same Coin’between Pavan Varma,Former Indian High Commissioner to Cyprus andRam Madhav, Member of the National Executive of the RashtriyaSwayamsewak Sangh (RSS) moderated by writer, columnist-Shefali Vaidya followed by a captivating panel on ‘Uttar Pradesh: Semi Finals for 2024?’ with panellists Abhishek Sudhir,British-trained Barrister, Advocate and Academic Entrepreneur, Rajat Sethi, Co-Founder @Fintech Venture, Advisor to State Governments,Satish Prakash,an acclaimed professor,Shantanu Gupta, Indian author and political analystin conversation withmoderator Sachin Arora, News Presenter.
The explosive discussion was followed by a conversation between Gautam Chikermane, writer andthe vice president at Observer Research Foundation (ORF),Hindol Sengupta, Indian historian and journalist, Rahul Easwar, Activist, philosophy author and oratormoderated by author,Shubhrasthaabout ‘Is the Spiritual Renaissance of Bharat a Possibility?’ Emphasising on ‘Culture of Indian Cuisine’ were Abhijit Iyer-Mitra,Journalist, Kunal Kapur,Indian Chef,SonalVed, authorin conversation with actor, Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee. Touching upon the novel yet shadowed topic ‘Surrogacy’ through the panel ‘Meet India’s Bachelor Dad’, were the filmmaker and actor siblings Ekta Kapoor & Tusshar Kapoor moderated by journalist,Kaveree Bamzai.
Later in the day, audiences witnessed interesting discussions on panels such as ‘New Vistas in Young Indic Writing: What does the future hold?’ between Arjun Singh Kadian, Founder- Rath Foundation, Rajeev Mantri,Founder and MD, Navam Capital, Shubhrastha, authormoderated by Kushal Mehra,Host of The Cārvāka Podcast. Another session titled, ‘Karma: Why Everything You Know About it is Wrong?’ witnessed conversationbetweenAcharya Prashant, Indian author&anAdvaita teacherand Rahul Easwar, Activist, philosophy author and orator.
As a special treat for the classical music lovers, a special ‘Sarod Serenade’ segment by the musician duo Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash was a part of the festivities. Following the soothing segment were the thought-provoking discussions on ‘The Climate Change Emergency’ withSadhguru&Palki Sharma, Executive Editor of WION and ‘Decolonizing Indian History: Rhetoric or Reality?’ between Ali Khan Mahmudabad,Asst. Prof of Political Science and History at Ashoka University, Columnist in English, Hindi and Urdu. J Sai Deepak,Founder- Law Chambers of J. Sai Deepakand Meenakshi Jain, political scientist and historianin conversation with author,Anand Ranganathan.
Concluding day two of the festival was the brilliant musical ensemble by the SaReGaMaPa participants and host Aditya Narayan celebrating the 75 years of Indian independence.
Day three of Arth – A Culture Fest kick-started with a dynamic and eloquent session by Baijayant Jay Panda, National Vice President for Bharatiya Janata Partyand Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament for Thiruvananthapurammoderated byjournalistAarti Tikoo on ‘Whose Idea of India is it Anyway?’ This was followed by political and historical discussions on ‘India’s 75 years Journey Through the Lens of a Bureaucrat, Politician and Beyond’ byYashwant Sinha, former Union Finance Minister and Senior Vice-President of Trinamool Congressin conversation withjournalist Rasheed Kidwaialong with a session on ‘How the Revolutionary Movement and British Responses Still Define India’ by Sanjeev Sanyal, Indian Economist and historian. Another topic of prominence – ‘India’s Soft Power: An Advantage Waiting to be Harnessed?’ was keenly discussed by authors- Amish Tripathi, Anuraag Saxena, Ashwin Sanghi withPalki Sharma, Executive Editor of WION.
The latter part of day three of Arth – A Culture Fest saw panel discussions on ‘Building A Sense Of Community Through Education’ with Authors- Meenu Tripathiand Nidhi Khali Dhyaniin conversation with writer, columnist, Shefali Vaidyawhich was followed bythe session, ‘Looking Inward: Meditating to Survive A Changing World’ between Kushal Mehra, Host of The Cārvāka Podcast&Swami Purnachaitanya, author, speaker and spiritual guide. An intriguing political discussion on The Rise of the BJP: The Making of the World’s Largest Political Party saw Bhupender Yadav, Minister of Labour and Employment of Indiaand Ila Patnaik, Economistin conversation with Arjun Singh Kadian, Founder- Rath Foundationtalk about the journey of the BJP Party and the status it has accomplished amongst the people of the country. ‘Is Hinduphobia for Real? Global Responses’ between Indu Viswanathan,Educator-Scholar-Activist, Satish K Sharma,author, Suhag Shukla, Executive Director at Hindu American Foundation, moderated by SmitaBarooah, Addiction’s counsellor. It was followed by ‘Whither India’s Opposition: Are We Staring at a Political Vacuum’ between Abhishek Sudhir,British-trained Barrister, Advocate and Academic Entrepreneur,Anand Ranganathan,Author, D.K. Giri,Author, Shefali Vaidya,writer, columnist,Suhel Seth,Indian Businessman and MD, Counselage India, Syed Asim Waqar,national spokesperson, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeenmoderated by Nikhil Mehra.
Culminating the three-day cultural extravaganza on a poetic and musical note wereDinesh Bawra, author,Kumar Vishwas, Indian Poetand Ramesh Muskan, popular satiristpoetin conversation withpoetess, Kavita Tiwariat ‘Shatabdi Kavi Sammelan: Kaviyon Ka Bharat’ and aHeadline Act by the popular Indian singer B Praak.
Addressing the viewers at the festival, Dr. Subhash Chandra, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha and Chairman, Essel Group in his inaugural address said, “Gen Z and millennials must know what is the relevance of the past with the current and the future. If one has to know and understand Bharat, and what it truly represents, it is important that we learn about its past. I always insist that we must understand our art, music, culture, and history with initiatives like Arth, that will guide the youth and take them on a journey into India’s glorious past. Our honourable PM Narendra Modi had also recently stated that in the next 25 years, the nation shall work towards an Amrit Kal to celebrate 100 glorious years of our independence. We must prepare for that and move towards once again becoming a global guru, where our people will prosper with good health and wealth. There is a lot of work that must be done in that direction and a lot to ground to cover. It is here that the youth will have an important role to play. I thank the Zee Live team for organizing such a wonderful event and I hope they take this initiative to greater heights in the years to come.”
Speaking about the strides made by the country over the years, former Union Finance Minister and Senior Vice-President of Trinamool Congress,Yashwant Sinha said, “Back in the 70’s, when I was working abroad, people used to discuss whether a democratic country can achieve a high-growth rate. Later under the leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, between 2003-2008, with a growth of 8-10%, India proved that we can achieve and we actually witnessed this economic growth.” He further added, “The glass is never half empty or half full. It depends on how you view the situation. When we talk about a time from the past, we speak about it from today’s context. We have very little idea of how things were back then because we weren’t there to experience it for ourselves.”
Speaking on the influence of Lataji, while paying tribute to her at Arth – A Culture Fest, Prasoon Joshi, Chairperson, Central Board of Film Certification, said, “Growing up, I used to feel that Lataji’s presence was everywhere. Just like water and air, she was ever-present. She was always there to listen to on the radio. We were living and breathing her songs. Lataji and her voice will echo forever. She is beyond mortality. I am grateful that I got a chance to work with her. I used to feel privileged when she would ask me to show her what I had written.”
Talking about breaking the stereotypes of parental roles in his book, Indian actor Tusshar Kapoor said, “It has been an enriching experience for me to be part of Arth – A Culture Fest and getting to speak about parenting, that’s the topic of my debut book Bachelor Dad: my journey to fatherhood and more,at length.When we speak about the country’s culture, we must also highlight the family culture. With parenting styles constantly evolving, it is necessary to speak about topics such as surrogacy and being a single parent and that’s exactly what I’ve managed to capture through my book as I narrate my personal experiences. It was great to have this conversation along with Ekta and I thank Arth for giving me such a platform.”
Suhel Seth, Indian Businessman and MD, Counselage India, said, “I am delighted that Arth – A Culture Fest is happening. Not only does it allow people to explore new meanings, but also explores the vicissitudes and the plethora of ideas, both descending and conforming in a society like ours. As I have always believed, India is a civilizational legacy and Arth allows you to find meaning in the smallest of the biggest and the biggest of the smallest.”
Watch the sessions across three days here: