Country's rulers aren't worth its literature: URA

“The rulers of this country aren't worth its literature,” so lamented noted litterateur U R Ananthmurthy who inaugurated the first edition of the Bangalore Literary Festival at Jayamahal Palace here on Friday.

Ananthmurthy said he was deeply pained by the recent attacks on freedom of expression in the country and condemned the arrest of two girls in Mumbai for a Facebook post.
He also cited the arrest of journalist Naveen Soorinje for covering attack on the girls at a homestay in Mangalore.

He lamented that these days,  politicians and those in power were not rooted enough and had turned despotic and  weren't worth the literature the country produced.

He advised the writers that they should not give up metaphor. He said metaphor was a very powerful tool to confront the powers that be. Rabindranath Tagore and Kafka were great examples of such a tradition.

“Literature is important for the soul of the country. Even when countries are not free, the writers are free. It is they who keep the conscience of the society even in chains,” he said, adding that Kannada has a rich heritage of a thousand years of such culture.

The Bangalore Literary Festival was kicked-off with much fanfare and high expectations from the bibliophiles of the City. The inaugural session gave an insight into the character of the festival that has prided itself in celebrating the rich literary treasure of the regional languages – Kannada and Hindi too.

The Festival was inaugurated by two Jnanapith awardees Ananthmurthy and Chandrashekara Kambara, the multi-faceted Gulzar, K S Nissar Ahmed and Shashi Deshpande, bringing in a confluence of writers in all the three languages and many genres between them.

Vikram Sampath, one of the organisers of the Festival, said that the event plugs the gap in the cultural calender of the City. He promised that among the slew of litfests across the country, the Bangalore Litfest would be as different as is the host city.

The festival has prided itself in presenting Kannada writers and also a flavour of the local culture with sessions of Carnatic Music and Yakshagana each evening after the writer sessions, he added.

Gulzar and City

Gulzar recounted that his association with Bangalore dates back to the late 50s' when he used to come to the City to write his scripts.

He remarked that of all places, Bangalore should have had its literary festival much earlier than the rest. He said that Bangalore has been a melting pot and a kind of a centre for all the south Indian languages.

Kambara commended the equal importance that the festival has given to the Kannada world.

He said that 20 years ago, regional languages in their interaction with English always transacted with an inherent inferiority complex. But not any more.

“There has been a paradigm shift and it is our sister languages that we have to now talk to rather than look up to English,” Kambara said.

He said time has come for English to search for itself in the ‘desi' roots.

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