JLF, DAY 2: Impressive line up of literary events, stimulating talks!

Day two of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2020 kept up the momentum set so effectively on the eventful first day. There was tremendous diversity in sessions, speakers, and themes in the programming of the day. “Morning Music” on the 2nd day of the Festival was performed by acclaimed classical Carnatic veena artist Vidushi Saraswati Rajagopalan. She began her set with Raga Saraswati – an ode to Goddess Saraswati, the patron deity of music, art and literature, which was an appropriate beginning to the second day of one of the world’s grandest literature festivals.


In conversation with editor Sudha Sadanand, the acclaimed vocalist Shubha Mudgal read from and spoke about her debut collection of short stories, Looking for Miss Sargam, and the traditions, realities and contradictions that a musician typically straddles and set them against the realities of her own narratives.

Francesca Cartier Brickell, a direct descendant of the Cartier family, has recently published a book titled The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewellery Empire. Her book launch was conducted at the NEXA Front Lawn of the Diggi Palace at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2020 and the session was anchored by Editor-in-Chief of Literary Publishing of Penguin Random House India, Meru Gokhale. The book was launched by Diya Kumari, Member of Parliament.

Speaking at the session Diya Kumari said, “It is an absolute pleasure and an honour to be here at the launch of the book The Cartiers. The family name is synonymous with outstanding craftsmanship, creativity and a long history with numerous royal families, including mine. And I’d like to thank everyone associated with the book to have invited me here. I am looking forward to reading what I am sure is a fascinating story of the family. And all my very best for the success of the book. Thank you!

Anay Saxena wrote his first book, Time Adventures: The Jackson Menace, when he was seven. His most recent work is a collection of three short stories titled What a Mysterious World We Live In. Today, Anay Saxena was in conversation with much loved children’s author Deepa Agarwal discussing his work.

Bestselling-author Howard Jacobson talked about his new book Live a Little, which is the love story of a 90-year-old woman. Age, according to Jacobson, is not an impediment to love, though literature has been “very unforgiving” of old age. Jacobson went on to say, “The most intelligent people I know are in their 90s” and explained “…if you can allow your body to decay, you can concentrate on your mind!”  The eroticism in this love story is only suggested. This is because Jacobson thinks that “the body is overrated”, and therefore he wants to start a movement against people writing about sex. “Sex makes words look foolish, words make sex look absurd,” he said. Jacobson felt that the shame and humiliation a novelist experiences can be an asset.  “Embrace your shame and write about it,” was his advice to the audience.

A session on memoirs opened up a treasure trove of backstories. Nicholas Coleridge, former editorial director of Condé Nast Britain, had the audience in splits when he recalled Princess Diana asking him at a lunch, “Nicholas, please be frank, I want to know your real view. Are my breasts too small, do you think?”  “Your Royal Highness,” he responded, “they seem, umm, perfect to me.”   He drew a crucial distinction – “A memoir is what you remember, otherwise it is an autobiography!”

Talking more about memoirs, the English broadcaster and author of My Name Is Why, Lemn Sissay, spoke with emotion about his life as a foster child, the meaning of his name and the sources he used to write his own memoir.  He said his book recounted the trauma that his mother went through.  “It’s really not my story,” he said. A journalist known for her accounts of life in war-zones, Åsne Seierstad, said that to work on American history of the last 100 years, she had had to look at the changes the US faced and wished for her source to be personal and family stories.  So, she began to look at her personal letters, the letters of her grandfather. Avi Shlaim talked about his book Three Worlds: Memoir of an Arab Jew and spoke with intensity about his identity as an Arab-Jew and his life-experiences in Baghdad, Israel and London. His main source of information was his 96-year-old mother.

Lisa Ray, India’s first supermodel, actor, mother of twins through surrogacy and a cancer survivor, spoke to ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival producer and Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, Sanjoy K. Roy about her riveting life story and memoir, Close to the Bone, a deeply moving account of her healing and spiritual quest. She spoke about how identity to her was tectonic and rooted in movement, embodied by her own peripatetic life.

In the session “Winners Take it All” Anand Giridharadas said “rich people are making a killing in a way that is strangulating democracy”, and this rendered their claims of benevolence invalid.  Giridharadas went on to say said that “they do just enough good to preserve a system that does harm on a much larger scale”. This system, he said is “the old trickle-down economics with whipped cream and a cherry on top”. Thus, according to him, we are looking at a systematic problem and we need to ask ourselves, “Should we even have billionaires?” He claimed that “every billionaire is a policy failure”. Their wealth could finance a lot of services that people in democratic countries are entitled to, but are not getting.

The day ended with the announcement of the prestigious Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize, a first of its kind award for brilliance in book design and an attempt by the iconic bookstore to recognise and encourage the work of gifted illustrators, designers and publishers throughout India. The winner of the fifth edition of the award announced at Jaipur BookMark was well-known graphic designer Sneha Pamneja who was felicitated with a trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh by jurors Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Namita Gokhale and Shobhaa De, amidst a gathering of designers, publishers and book-lovers. The announcement was followed by a cocktail reception hosted by Oxford Bookstore honouring the winner.


ZEE Jaipur Literary Fest 2020 – & I was part of Grandest Literary Show on Earth!

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2020 took place from 23rd – 27th January 2020 at the Diggi Palace Hotel, Jaipur, Rajasthan.

No words are enough to describe the magic of JLF, as it is popularly known, which is a sort of mecca for literary buffs. I was surprised to find such a huge congregation of literature lovers from all over the world, yes world, not India alone! The colours, the vibrancy, the aura, the aroma and enigmatic atmosphere of the place – Heritage structure – Diggi Palace were truly splendid.

Inaugural Ceremony JLF

No wonder, JLF is hailed as one of grandest literary worldwide, the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2020, which is held at iconic abode, the Diggi Palace lawns and aptly lives up to its tradition of providing access to a gamut of ‘stories’ – fearless, funny, tender, fantastical, true-to-life, fiery, equivocal, atypical and every day – to all.

The magnitude of programming remained as astonishing as every year with over 500 speakers and performers representing around 15 Indian and 35 international languages and over 30 nationalities as well as major literary awards ranging from the Nobel, the Man Booker, the Pulitzer, the Sahitya Akademi, DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and Commonwealth Book Prize.

After a lot of deliberations, discussions and apprehensions, I boarded the flight to Jaipur and believe me I couldn’t have been happier with my decision. Aarti and Mohit were there to receive me at the airport for the early morning flight and there was not a single dull moment in their company. They were my constant companion for the next five days, which I will always cherish!

After reaching Jaipur and gorging on hot breakfast and tea made by Aarti and her loving mother-in-law, we set out for Diggi Palace, Jaipur and my brush with real intellectuals on this planet began. My first session was with humble and unassuming Mr Prasoon Joshi who was in a very vibrant conversation with Ms Vani Tripathi Tikkoo. After that what all followed, you will get to read in the following posts.

The venue was brimming with activities of culturally inclined people who were dressed in their traditional best, giving a different vibe to the whole place. Indigo Kurtas, Ikat Sarees, Bandhnis, Bandhej, Pashmina Shawls, Jaipuri Stoles, Handloom sarees, Kalamkari dresses, jackets…whatnot. Their sense of dressing was really impressive and I must say that they had put a lot of thought to their dressing by teaming up with traditional silver and metal jewellery like chandelier earrings, multi-layered neckpieces, bangles, anklets and what to say of nose rings.

One notable thing amidst all this was that not even in a single panel discussion it was announced that “Please keep your mobile phone in silent mode” as it was given and to my utter surprise, not even a single mobile rang. This is the discipline followed by the intelligentsia in Jaipur.

The venue boasted Art Zone where artists were painting and most loved (by me at least) was Pool Bazaar which displayed stalls of jewellery, bags, shawls, mojris, handmade notebooks, handicrafts, sarees, dupatta, kurta, Kurtis…where I shopped to my heart’s content…but it was like Yeh Dil Maange More! Then there was book bazar selling books by authors whose launch was happening at the fest along with many others. I wish I could buy some more…

Only thing which was restrictive that many sessions were happening simultaneously at different venues so we had to skip one in favour of others. I wanted to be at both the sessions sometimes but that was not the possibility. Listening to speakers of the stature of Shashi Tharoor, Prasoon Joshi, Lisa Ray, Shobha De, Margaret Alwa, William Dalrymple, Sanjay K Roy, Ashwin Sanghi, Namita Gokhale and many more, nonstop amidst pin-drop silence followed by crowds swelling to over thousand, was an experience in itself.

Mikes, Venue, Press-gallery, volunteers help and overall management was top notch. There was no disturbance from any side, you were guided well all through by an over-enthusiastic team of Team Works, ample food stalls and hot tea was available round the clock. Yes, you could shop only through your debit/ credit cards as dealing in cash was not permitted. Please make a note of it.

Such huge crowds were managed so well, kudos!

Few highlights:

  • Inauguration by CM of Rajasthan, Mr Ashok Gehlot
  • Jaipur Music Stage runs parallel to the Festival from 23rd – 25th January at Clarke’s Amer featuring headliners including Gavin James, Ricky Kej, Lisa Marie Simmons, Aabha Hanjura, Parvaaz, amongst others.
  • 7th edition of the B2B arm of the Festival, Jaipur BookMark (JBM), began on 22nd January with a keynote address from writer and publisher Jo Lendle as he went through the first 20 pages of the publishing manual for the new decade
  • The Festival’s ongoing Youth Outreach programme with Yuva Ekta Foundation and School Outreach programme with Pratham Books continues to engage a large number of children and young people.

The Festival began on Thursday, January 23rd with the inaugural keynote address by renowned author Marcus du Sautoy and acclaimed Hindustani vocalist Shubha Mudgal on ‘The Art, Sciences and Creativity’.

Inaugural Address by CM Ashok Gehlot.

Present were some of the world’s best thinkers and writers: Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Man-Booker-winner Howard Jacobson, author of over sixteen novels including his most recent, Live a Little, that has been described by The Guardian as ‘wonderful’ and by The Sunday Times as ‘joyous’; Forrest Gander, eminent translator and author of the Pulitzer-winning collection of poems Be With; Paul Muldoon, author of Moy Sand and Gravel, for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize; Pulitzer winner Stephen Greenblatt, author of 14 books including Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Ravish Kumar, India’s well-known and intrepid TV anchor, journalist and writer; Ruchira Gupta, Emmy-winning journalist and activist.

Can any festival be grander than that?

  • Special thanks to Aarti & Mohit Mathur

  • First-hand account of the fest by Bienu Verma Vaghela 


मैं सोचती हूँ इस विषय पर ज़्यादा कुछ लिखना बनता नहीं है
गुजराती फ़ूड फेस्टिवल – गुजरातियों के जमन प्रेम का आइना है
खाना ही खाना सब तरफ – चाय, मुख वास, फरसाण, कथिआ वाड़ी थाली, १११ प्रकार की खिचड़ी दाल ढोकली, खीचियो, खामनी, हंडवा, ढोकला, थेपला, खकरा … और भी बहुत कुछ!

गुजराती अपने जमन (खाना) प्रेम के लिए मशहूर हैं…और ऐसे ही मशहूर नहीं हैं.
गुजराती लोक गीत संगीत गरबा डांडिया DJ आदि से सुसज्जित यह फेस्टिवल इन गुजराती लोगो बल्कि सब लोगो के लिए खूब रंग जमाया. मैं विशेष उल्लेख श्री गोपाल शेट्टी जी का करना चाहूंगी जिनका अपने एरिया में ऐसा उत्सव करने में विशेष योगदान है. क्या फर्राटे दार गुजराती बोलते हैं.

श्री प्रशांत रओ जिन्होंने बहुत ही खूबसूरत एंकरिंग से सबका मन मोह लिया.
मैंने GFF के पासेज जीते थे और अपनी मित्रों और परिवार के साथ यहाँ खूब आनंद उठाया. मसाले, मुखवास, खाखरा, चाय, फरसाण, ज्वेलरी आदि बहुत कुछ ख़रीदा. अब मैं जयपुर फेस्टिवल में राजस्थान का लुत्फ़ उठाउंगी. EK महीने में मेरे दो प्रिये राज्यों के उत्सव का आनंद.

और क्या चाहिए!

#JLT Jaipur BookMark – Where Books Mean Business inaugurates today

Every January, while the world comes to the Jaipur Literature Festival to celebrate the written word, the publishing fraternity gets together to celebrate and discuss upcoming trends and achievements at the Jaipur Bookmark, where books mean business. Jaipur BookMark harnesses the collective energy of authors, literary agents, translators, publishers, designers, marketers, publicists, booksellers and festival organizers to discuss new ideas and how to take them to the market. Jaipur BookMark is a rich platform for all those who may be interested in the practical aspect of books and publishing, including translation and rights exchange across geographies, which have always been a focus at JBM.

The 7th edition of Jaipur BookMark 2020 will be held from 22nd January to 25th January. Jaipur BookMark (JBM) brings together stakeholders of the book industry from across the world. It provides the right atmosphere to inspire dialogue and a space for one-on-one meetings and networking, as well as provides an opportunity to “talk business” through relevant sessions and focused roundtables.

Namita Gokhale

The inaugural address, introduced by Neeta Gupta features H. E. Hans Jakob Frydenlund, Namita Gokhale and Sanjoy K. Roy. This is followed by the much-anticipated keynote by acclaimed writer and publisher Jo Lendle, editor of the Hanser publishing group, introduced by Naveen Kishore. Titled The Roaring Twenties, the address focuses on key issues of publishing for a new decade. There have been many publishers of world renown who have made a keynote address at previous editions of Jaipur BookMark, including iconic author and publisher, Roberto Calasso; the CEO of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Juergen Boos; the creative force behind Seagull Books, Naveen Kishore; and others. In this edition, we look forward to interacting with publishers like Jo Lendle, Naveen Kishore, Urvashi Butalia, Vera Michalsky, Michael Dwyer, Niko Pfund, Atiya Zaidi, Richa Jha and booksellers like Arsen Kashkashian, Jeff Deutsch, Priyanka Malhotra, Maina Bhagat and Rick Simonson, among others.

Sanjoy K Roy

According to Namita Gokhale, Co-Director of Jaipur BookMark, “Jaipur Bookmark celebrates the core values of publishing. We nurture creativity through our iWrite programme, support and showcase translations, and explore the changing books and narratives. I am very excited about what promises to be a brilliant 7th edition.”

At Jaipur BookMark 2020 there are many publishing-related sessions, such as The Heart of a Bookstore in which iconic booksellers from around the world speak of their profession and the joy and learnings they derive from it; The Big Book Box for Kids where authors, publishers and booksellers discuss challenges in making children’s books visible and accessible to young readers, as well as marketing strategies for overcoming them; Food for thought: gastronomy and literature, a session in which some of the most talented food writers in the world gather to share their recipes for food and literature; and Consumer Intelligence: Who’s Reading What, a session in which publishers and authors will discuss how big data can be used to analyse book-buying behaviour.

Neeta Gupta, Co-Director of Jaipur BookMark says, “Translations remain our top priority at the 7th edition of Jaipur BookMark, with sessions focused on Borderless Literatures, Translating National Narratives and Translation as Intimacy, along with launching Norwegian playwright Ibsen’s plays in Hindi. We also announce two coveted translation awards, the Vani Foundation Distinguished Translator award and the Romain Rolland prize for Translations.”

With its finger on the pulse of the publishing business, Jaipur BookMark has always featured crucial sessions discussing the most contemporary and critical issues facing the literary world. Towards a Borderless Literature promises to be an inspirational session on the need for translations and words without borders; The Changing Face of Digital Narratives will focus on the fascinating array of possibilities opened through new genres of digital narratives; Libraries as Communities discusses the role of libraries as crucial community hubs and centres of learning, communication, professional development and collaborative projects; Why Publishing Poetry is Important brings together dedicated and engaged publishers who will discuss their commitment to publishing poetry; and A Textbook Case for Diversity brings together acclaimed publishers who discuss the importance of striking a balance between mere tokenism and embracing true multiculturalism.

Aditi Maheshwari Goyal says, “The 7th Edition of Jaipur BookMark will witness important stakeholders in the global and local publishing industry – authors, publishers, editors, designers and literary agents. The only platform in South Asia that shines the spotlight on those who work behind the scenes, creating books. JBM is all set to celebrate books in 360°- print, digital and audio editions.”

In 2020 the Norwegian Embassy is once again partnering with Jaipur BookMark. This will mark the 7th year of their association. Naveen Kishore of the Seagull School of Publishing is on board both as an advisor and supporter of the festival. Seagull Books Kolkata has single handedly put India on the International translation map with its international list of authors, that include Nobel Prize winners and others shortlisted in major international literary awards categories. The French Institute in India is bringing representatives of the French publishing industry to JBM 2020. India will be the Guest of Honour nation at the Salon du Livre in Paris in 2020.

“The Indian publishing industry has grown rapidly and the world’s attention is converging on it,” remarks Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts and Producer of Jaipur BookMark.

Apart from being a B2B platform that brings together the who’s who of the publishing industry from across the world, JBM also provides aspiring writers with an exciting platform called iWrite: Creative Mentorship Programme. This Mentorship Programme invites poets, literary enthusiasts and novelists to share their stories and get an opportunity to be mentored by experts in the field. No longer limited to first-time writers, this initiative not only gives writers a chance to express themselves, but also lets them mingle and interact with publishers, literary agents, translators and other industry experts in a pitching session, and perhaps even get a chance to sign a book deal!

Three major awards will be announced at Jaipur BookMark 2020 – The Vani Foundation Distinguished Translator Award. The Romain Rolland Prize and The Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize.

Jaipur BookMark was conceived to run parallel to the Jaipur Literature Festival in 2014. In the 7 years since its inception, JBM has emerged as a nodal point for the South Asian publishing industry and is indeed a focus for the book trade.



JaipurLitFest 2020 presents a convergence of cultures, languages and literatures

The ‘greatest literary show on Earth’, the Jaipur Literature Festival, returns with its 13th edition. Scheduled from 23rd – 27th January, the Festival this year promises an unmatched programme featuring over 300 speakers from over 20 countries and 35 languages.

Authors from nations such as the Czech Republic, Mauritius, Netherlands, Sweden and Nigeria will see representation at the Festival. As each year, several Indian, American, British, French and German authors, will round up the Festival programme.

Prominent speakers from across the world include Anita Aujayeb, a long-standing educator, a lecturer and also the Chairperson of the President’s Fund for Creative Writing at the Ministry of Arts and Cultural Heritage in Mauritius; Annick Schrammei, Academic Director for the Creative Industries at the Antwerp Management School, expert- advisor for cultural policy and an evaluator for the European Commission and also a member of the Flemish UNESCO Commission; poet, essayist, editor, photographer and founder of Ireland’s premier literary journal Irish Pages: A Journal of

Contemporary Writing Chris Agee; author of books on Burmese and Asian History, past fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, founder and chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust, Chairman of U Thant House and Padma Shri recipient Thant Myint- U.

The Festival will also see 20 international and 15 Indian languages such as Khasi, Assamese and Nagamese being highlighted.

Namita Gokhale, the writer, publisher and Co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival said, “Every year, we have various authors from different parts of the world, representing different nationalities and languages in attendance at the Festival. This year, once again, we have endeavoured to get as many speakers from varying genres and languages to attend. I believe we have succeeded in our efforts as stalwarts from over 20 countries and as many as 20 international and almost 15 Indian languages will be in attendance at the 13th edition of the Festival. We are eagerly looking forward to welcoming them and to the literary revelations they will bring with them.”

The much-awaited Festival is set to take place at its customary picturesque home, the Diggi Palace Hotel at Jaipur. In the past decade, the Festival has evolved into a global phenomenon and has hosted nearly 2000 speakers and over a million book-lovers till date. Every year, it brings together authors, thinkers and bibliophiles from across the world to champion the freedom to dream, express and debate.


Celebrate the authentic Gujarati Food & Everything else Gujarati!!

Most keenly awaited Festival is here, which has excited everyone associated with Gujarati food and festivities. I love the ideology of Gujjus, who are the happiest lot on this planet – खावानु, पीवणो, जलसा करवा नु!

With this biggest Gujarati Food Festival, the idea of the food festival is primarily to re-integrate value back into Food Culture & to Communicate Gastronomic knowledge about GUJARATI FOOD. Gujarati Food Festival will fill your stomach as well as your Heart & Mind.

The festival is all set to happen on 10-11-12 January at Kora Kendra Ground No 3 RM Bhattad Rd, Haridas Nagar, Borivali West, Mumbai 400092. Its time to serve the unexplored flavours of Gujarat and triumph the extraordinary culture with the tastiest delicacies.

My association with Gujarati Food started with my marriage in a Gujarati family some 25 years ago. Till then while living in Delhi and Lucknow, I knew nothing about Gujarati food and culture except that Gandhiji and Sardar Patel were Gujaratis. I am born in a Varma – Kayasth family and self – admittedly I am a true-blue Kayasth.

My eyes opened to the fact that Gujaratis and Kayasths are poles apart in their culture, cuisines, lifestyle and thought process, immediately after marriage. Rest of things later – cuisine part first. A typical Gujju family’s day starts with a discussion on food for nasta, lunch, nasta and dinner…means discussion on food, nothing beyond…particularly ladies amongst the house. Whereas our day started with news, the book we will read, the place we would visit, studies and food remained in the periphery. Though Kayasth’s love for food is part of folklore, about that sometime later…

My vocabulary about food enriched in no time with my mother-in-law churning out some interesting and delicious stuff like Thepla, Khakra, Phaphda, Khaman, Dhokla, Chora Phari, Magaj, Batata-nu-shak, pharsi poori, Undhiyo, Khandwo and believe me, I loved these beyond measure, though these were not part of my vocabulary till then. My sister-in-law, Hemlata didi needs a special mention here who is an expert cook of Gujarati delicacies and helped me in developing taste and understanding Gujarati culture.

But I was stuck in one place, in North-India, I had never heard about meethi daal and gur in every second subzi as North Indian food is all about spices and tadka. I don’t know how to relish that…I would simply refuse to eat. Then there were certain strange combinations like sweet lapsi (cooked porridge) to be eaten with theekhi daal. I simply revolted!

But over a period of time, as time passed, I integrated with the cuisine and everything else Gujarati read: Garba and Dandiya nights which was quite a revelation. I was star-struck with the performance of Falguni Pathak where thousands of Gujjus grooved to her dandiya beats. I refused to come home from that night and I danced my heart out that day. I had never seen anything like this before.

I want to revisit those days when I wanted to explore everything Gujarati and every single day I came to know about a new thing about Gujaratis. My love for Gujarati food took a new dimension when I visited Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat, Bhuj and many other interiors of Gujarat. As a self-confessed foodie, I can Gujarati’s love for food is phenomenal. If a Gujarati is accompanying you for travel, you need not worry about food – my husband, Mukund Vaghela tops the chart.

I must mention: I am the winner of Gujarati Food Festival contest, what more I could have asked for being a non-Gujarati!

See you all there!!


Oh! What an impressive line up of Authors and Speakers!! Jaipur Lit Fest!!!

Jaipur Literature Festival 2020 to celebrate the vast bounty of Indian languages

India’s rich, diverse and colourful literary heritage remains at the core of the 13th Jaipur Literature Festival as it brings together writers from across India representing a multitude of the country’s languages. This year, the Festival hosts speakers from the vast canvas of Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Nagamese, Oriya, Prakrit, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Santhali, Tamil and Urdu writing. The programme explores the magnificent legacy of these languages while examining contemporary trends in writing.

The 13th edition of the Festival, set to take place between 23-27 January, features over 300 speakers from India as well as across the world.

Conversations span the length and breadth of the country and include voices from known and lesser-known literary treasure troves searched with meticulous attention to contemporary linguistic narratives especially in the many regions of India, each with its own myriad literary traditions, norms and quirks. The idea is to sustain the incomparable vastness of our national languages amidst galloping globalisation and draw succour from an incredible linguistic and literary legacy.

Rajasthani language finds voice in its distinctive syntax and variety of dialects –- the iconic Rajasthani poet Chandra Prakash Deval, a pioneer poet of Rajasthani literature Raju Ram Bijarnian, eminent authors Ritupriya and Madhu Acharya will speak of the rich heritage and linguistic traditions of the state in a session titled “Rajasthani Binya Kyaro Rajasthan”. In a conversation with distinguished author Vishes Kothari, the panel will talk about the unique genius of Rajasthani literature in its many manifestations.

In another conversation, Vishes Kothari and Chandra Prakash Deval will speak to bilingual novelist Anukrti Upadhyay on Rajasthani writer, poet and litterateur Vijaydan Detha’s rich legacy of magical narratives. Detha belonged to a family of bards and contributed enormously in bringing folklore and oral traditions into the mainstream of Indian literature. This session will feature Vishes Kothari’s vivid English rendering of the Timeless Tales from Marwar, a handpicked collection from Detha’s celebrated Batan ri Phulwari – literally “Garden of Tales”.

Modern Hindi fiction represents a continuum between many pasts and an emergent present. Two prominent writers evoke the landscape of change. Kamlakant Tripathi’s recent novel Sarayu Se Ganga is a magnificent evocation of history and culture across the last century. Another prolific Rajasthani author Nand Bhardwaj’s latest collection of short stories Badalati Sargam also covers a range of themes that highlight the quirks and contradictions of a changing society. In conversation with celebrated Hindi author Anu Singh Chowdhary, they will speak and read from their new work.

An inspirational session titled “The Rivers, The Sky, The Self”, with four writers from north-east India will speak of the landscape of memory, evoking folklore, oral narratives and the histories of their people. The panel consists of Esther Syiem, a bilingual poet, academic and playwright, who has also worked with oral scripting in Khasi; Easterine Kire, an award-winning poet, short story writer and novelist from Nagaland and author of the novel A Respectable Woman set against the decisive Battle of Kohima; and Mridul Haloi, winner of the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in 2017 for the poetry collection Akale Aso Kushale Aso. The distinguished panel will be in conversation with academic and feminist publisher Urvashi Butalia and read from and speak of their work and the legacies of myth and memory.

Sanskrit has been the primary language of knowledge, learning and ritual in ancient and medieval India. Its rich traditions permeate most modern Indian languages, and its tremendous influence continues in every aspect of Indian life. It remains yet very much a living language, taught in schools, broadcast on All India Radio, and with over 90 publications published in it across the nation. In a splendid session, writers and scholars from across the world will discuss the grandeur, practicality and accessibility of Sanskrit and its role in the culture and daily life of modern times. The panel will feature Oscar Pujol, writer of the Sanskrit dictionaries titled Sanskrit-Catalan and Sanskrit-Spanish; Madhura Godbole, programme head of the Sanskrit Language Department at the American Institute of Indian Studies; Makarand R. Paranjape, poet, scholar and Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies who has written extensively on pre and post-colonial Indian culture politics and society; Rachel Dwyer, Professor of Indian Culture and Cinema at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

The landscape of Indian literature is multilingual and multivocal with 22 official languages and thousands of mother tongues and dialects. “Many Languages One Literature” will be a session that interrogates and celebrates the unity in this diversity with three celebrated writers – Aruni Kashya, KR Meera and Shubhangi Swarup will be reading from their works in Assamese, Malayalam and English, as they discuss the literary and linguistic context of their inspirations.

The Festival’s multi-faceted content promises a variety of linguistic riches.

Is 5 trillion-dollar economy a mirage?

The economy is the backbone of any country, city, town, district, taluka, village, home, institution and commercial establishment. As goes the saying, money makes the world go round, if managed well, life is a cake-walk. If not, life becomes a nightmare!

What are factors responsible for turning our dreamy life into a nightmare, where there is hardly any ray of hope? Let’s explore through this article why are we finding ourselves stuck into the dark tunnel…

…economically, financially!

The economic health of any nation is determined by its consumer demand complementing its manufacturing output. If there is a shortfall in any one of these, it will disturb the finances and economies of the nation. It looks like that currently India is grappling with issues which are unable to bridge this gap. With particular reference to the year 2019, which is on its last leg, the gloom and doom in the economy remain the hallmark. The year would be marked for Loksabha elections, Vidhan Sabha elections, Ram Mandir Verdict, Abrogation of article 370 and finally CAB, still, the dwindling economy is crying for attention.

As expressed by FM, Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman, “There is a slowdown but no recession.” The dividing line is very thin between the two for the common man to understand who is struggling with his unemployment, job-loss, higher costs of commodities, education, properties, travel and rising prices of basic necessities like onions. However, she has infused some life into dying real-estate by doling out a corpus to help the consumers but is it enough when there is an inventory of lakhs of houses and thousands of crores are at stake, leaving poor home-buyers in a lurch.

But what has hurt India’s GDP big time is the real estate and construction sector, which is credited to account for 40 per cent overall jobs, had seen the worst last four years, with sector coming on a ventilator, well – almost.

In the April-June quarter of 2019, growth in the real estate sector fell to 5.7 per cent, compared to 9.6 per cent in the same quarter last year. According to developers, vacant inventories are still large and that their businesses, too, have shrunk. The measures taken by the Government are too minuscule to pump life into the ailing sector.

The biggest sufferer of this scenario is the home-buyer who has invested their life long savings in under-construction properties, which are nowhere in sight. Is Government thinking about them? This has certainly created a depression in the buying sentiments for this basic requirement of life.

It would not be a misnomer to say that almost all Indian sectors like Automobiles, Manufacturing, FMCG, Telecommunications, Real-Estate, Construction and even Agriculture are on the brink, struggling for survival. The official data of the National Statistics Office reveals that weaker consumer demand and slower private investments are the two key factors behind the ordeal of core Indian sectors, many of which are openly giving SOS signals.

While consumers and manufacturers are suffering, the Government is busy giving loan waivers here and there by hard-earned money of tax-payers. Time is now to look and work out remedies for the people who are unemployed, suffered job loss and have no means to support their families.

Meanwhile, eight-core sectors have registered a negative growth of just 2.1 per cent in July, compared to 7.3 per cent in the corresponding month a year ago. All of these indicators also explain the reason behind the recent jump in job losses. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), overall unemployment in India has now touched 8.2 per cent, with the urban figure as high as 9.4 per cent.

The scenario has become so depressing that even Indian investors have also become wary of the slowing economic growth as major companies, especially from the auto sector, have been posting huge dips in profit and even losses in many cases. Not just domestic investors but foreign investors are also constantly pulling out capital from the Indian market. FPIs have pulled out a net amount of Rs 5,920 crore in August even after the government announced a rollback of enhanced surcharge on FPIs.

Meanwhile, the Indian rupee has again become one of the worst-performing Asian currencies after depreciating 3.65 per cent against the dollar. This, too, is the steepest decline in the Indian currency in the last six years. The value of the rupee has hit Rs 71.98 against the dollar at present. The weakness of the rupee is a reflection of the underperformance of high-yielding emerging markets foreign exchange, weakness in equities and recent policy actions.

According to the latest edition of EY’s Economic Watch, India will have to grow at 9 per cent in each of the five subsequent years to become a USD five trillion economy – USD 3.3 trillion in FY21, USD 3.6 trillion in FY22, USD 4.1 trillion in FY22, USD 4.5 trillion FY24 and USD 5 trillion in FY25.

Government not only need to ponder but act constructively with some hard-hitting measures to achieve this tall target.

“The government recognises that consumption will have to be given a boost,” Nirmala Sitharaman had said while announcing stimulus measures for automakers and small and medium manufacturers recently.

Madam FM act fast, till it becomes too late and India misses the bus!

माना की अँधेरा घाना है पर दिया जलाना कहाँ मना है?



Fitness Resolution 2019 & Fitness Revolution 2020!

I think in a long time, I made a resolution in the year 2019, which for me started on a slightly disappointing note. But one has to pick up threads, whatever webs life throws at you.

So, with ample time in hand, I thought of making the year 2019, the year of fitness rather be fit, physically, by shedding excess weight and mentally, by shedding the baggage of last year’s incidents. Now my journey towards this program started…

It started with walking both times, morning and evening, though walking is nothing new to me as I have been doing morning walk since I was a teenager but it was without an objective…just to be outside in the morning for some “me time”. This year I was quite determined, as I was inching towards that phase of life when health issues crop up from nowhere.

Park in the colony, mute witness to my fitness journey!

I made a time-table for exercise, yoga and walks. Believe me, it did not take much of my time in the entire day. First thing first, no excuses for missing the exercise or walks. Following diet was a challenge as I was already a disciplined foodie. I love my share of foods which add weight! So that door was closed.

Sometimes, I felt dejected, why so much for health, I am only healthy rather slightly over-weight, noting much to worry about. But no, I wanted to be slimmer and fitter at the same time. As it was an election year and 69-year Modji’s fitness levels and stamina were just infectious…I thought, if he CAN, why I CAN’T?

Amidst heavy-duty campaigning on social media and on-ground as well with very prestigious IITB project at hand, I started feeling the squeeze of time. Still, I continued…

…as we started inching towards last quarter of the year, I could see that I was not reaching anywhere close to what was part of my resolution. Now, I enhanced my efforts and kept reminding me of my resolution. I took help and changed my exercise pattern and became more regular. Results started showing in the last month of the calendar and voila I reached my aspired weight, what if on December 31, 2019!

With this mere feat, I plan to inspire my friends and acquaintances in the year 2020 to enhance their fitness levels but knocking off some unwanted weight. This would be my resolution – Revolution 2020. I have decided to take the guests coming to my home for a walk, put up an alarm to wake up my lazy friends, daughter and her friends, building friends and anyone else. I want to propagate; how regular walking can change not only your physical attributes but mental attributes too!

Raise your hand, if you want to be fit in 2020.

Look no further, touch base with me!!