Scheduled from 5th-14th March 2022, the Jaipur Literature Festival will have an array of themes, India 75 being one of its highlights. As India completes its 75th year of Independence, the 15th edition of the Festival looks at various facets of India’s journey so far with a diverse set of sessions.
The rich programme will feature, among others, a session that explores the narratives and counter-narratives of the electoral process and democratic systems. The panel will be graced by former Chief Election Commissioner of India and the author of Every Vote Counts Navin B. Chawla; National Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janta Party and the author of Makers of Modern Dalit History Guru Prakash Paswan; eminent jurist and retired judge of the Supreme Court of India Justice Madan B. Lokur. The esteemed panel will be in conversation with academic and author Mukulika Banerjee discussing the political and electoral process, the paradoxes of democracy, and its triumphs and discontents.
The evolution of modern India is a unique offering to the historical, socio-political, and psychological study of nationhood. Writer and journalist Saket Suman’s enlightening book, The Psychology of a Patriot, presents a thought-provoking chronicle of India. Writer, poet, and academic Makarand R. Paranjape’s upcoming books include JNU: Nationalism and India’s Uncivil War. Gurmehar Kaur’s most recent work, The Young and the Restless: Youth and Politics in India, explores the electoral and ideological involvement of the youth in the Indian democracy as it presents a dexterous generational evaluation of political identity. Eminent academic and author Badri Narayan‘s Republic of Hindutva: How the Sangh Is Reshaping Indian Democracy examines the evolving structures and systems of belief that comprise the RSS. In conversation with author, academic, and social anthropologist Mukulika Banerjee, they will discuss the coming-of-age of an entire nation focusing on its foundations and future. Mukulika Banerjee‘s new monograph Cultivating Democracy: Politics and Citizenship in Agrarian India is a study of the relationship between political democracy and active citizenship in rural India, particularly West Bengal. At another session, Banerjee will be in conversation with writer, journalist, and translator Namita Waikar. Together, they will explore the democratic values and notions of agriculture that shape the country’s political landscape(s).
The disability rights movement in India is salient but underrepresented. Professor and entrepreneur Anita Sharma called over 2,000 driving schools in the country and found that none catered to people with reduced mobility. Having survived polio and knowing the requirements to learn this skill confidently, she began On My Own, a driving school for people with reduced mobility. Indian social entrepreneur, writer, and disability rights activist Nipun Malhotra; journalist and novelist C.K. Meena, and Senior Vice President and Head of SAP Engineering Academy V.R Ferose have co-authored an insightful book on the lives of Persons with Disabilities in India, The Invisible Majority: India’s Abled Disabled. They will be in conversation with Festival producer and Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, Sanjoy K. Roy at an illuminating session on the rights and representation of India’s Persons with Disabilities.
Indian rural middle classes, comprising many hundreds of millions of people, straddles the worlds of both agriculture and industry. It is possibly the most dynamic, crucial, and neglected aspect of the global economy. A leading scholar of rural economy Maryam Aslany’s compelling new book Contested Capital: Rural Middle Classes in India throws light on the vast, evolving rural middle classes in India, to which more than a third of the country’s middle class, a key component of economic analysis and forecasts, belongs. Aslany will be in conversation with writer, politician, and former diplomat Pavan K. Varma, whose penetrating study The Great Indian Middle Class traces the evolution of this socio-economic group through the twentieth century.
One of India’s most loved Prime Ministers, a wise statesman, and benevolent father figure Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s political legacy embodies the vast and kaleidoscopic history of India, post-Independence. Senior journalist Sagarika Ghose, author of the political biography Indira: India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister, presents a deeply researched and revealing personal portrait of Vajpayee in her new book Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Author, social scientist, and journalist Nalin Mehta’s latest book The New BJP: Modi and the Making of the World’s Largest Political Party examines how the political party reshaped the Indian polity with its own brand of social engineering, powered by new caste coalitions, a focus on marginalised social groups and the making of a women-voter base. They will be in conversation with journalist Mandira Nayar discussing Vajpayee, the man, and his legacy.
Commemorating the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, Operation X, written by former Indian Navy Officer Captain MNR Samant and author Sandeep Unnithan, is the untold story behind one of the world’s largest covert naval wars. Naval Commando Operations (X) was the Directorate of the Naval Intelligence’s code for a series of complicated guerrilla operations directed against the maritime jugular of the Pakistan Army in erstwhile East Pakistan. Collaboratively they will explore the inner world of this conflict and its many intricacies with naval historian Commodore Srikant B. Kesnur.
India’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak followed by a total shutdown marked an unimaginable national tragedy leaving millions of migrant workers stranded, starving and unemployed. Award-winning filmmaker Vinod 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 with only a shrug to offer for their hardship. Fellow journalist and author Puja Changoiwala’s Homebound tells the story of an unrelenting family determined to survive and hope against a humanitarian catastrophe. In conversation with academic and author Chinmay Tumbe, Kapri and Changoiwala will discuss the faces and forces at the centre of the exodus and its numbers.
At a session concentrated on ‘Sri Aurobindo’, medical doctor, poet, and philosopher Pariksith Singh and writer Makarand R. Paranjape, in conversation with academic, editor, and writer Malashri Lal, will explore their perspectives of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy and his ‘inner quest’ as articulated in his writings and life. In his edited anthology, ‘Sri Aurobindo’, Paranjape explores the brilliant and complex mind of a remarkable yogi and seer-poet. Sing’s book Sri Aurobindo and the Literary Renaissance of India compares Sri Aurobindo with fifteen titans of philosophy, starting from the likes of Nietzsche and Derrida.
The legendary and emblematic names in Hindi literature – Ramdhari Singh DinkarandSubhadra Kumari Chauhanevoke idealism and inspiration in equal measure. Dinkar’s nationalist poetry, written before India’s Independence, was a prelude to the dawn of a new sensibility whereas Chauhan’s iconic poem, Jhansi ki Rani remains fresh in the hearts, minds, and lips of successive generations. Writer, poet, and musicologist Yatindra Mishra and scholar, writer, academic and historian, Tripurdaman Singh will speak of the lives and legacy of the two poets, their deep commitment and rooted patriotism, and the impact they continue to have on the identity and understanding of Hindi literature.