Amid concerns, Jaipur lit festival kicks off

Amid concerns, Jaipur lit festival kicks off

The 2013 edition of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, the biggest literary event in Asia, started off with a fiery speech by eminent author and social activist Mahasweta Devi.

The illustrious author reflected on her long and chequered career in a speech laced with references to the rich world of ideas she has imbibed from the tribal and rural cultures, the subject of her works.

Governor of Rajasthan Margaret Alva and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot were also present at the inaugural ceremony.

Addressing a gathering at the jam-packed front lawns of the Diggi Palace, where the festival takes place since 2005, she said having written on the “culture of the downtrodden” throughout her life, she referred to the “small dreams” of “small people” and called for the “right to dream” to be the first fundamental right of all human beings.

“All my life I have seen small people and their small dreams. I feel as if they wanted to lock up their dreams. Somehow, some dreams do escape. A jailbreak by dreams... People evicted from forests, where will they go? Common people and their common dreams. Like the Naxalites. Their crime, they dared to dream... Why shouldn’t they be allowed to dream?” she asked.

In a speech poignantly titled “O to Live Again”, the renowned author said, “for any culture as old and ancient as ours to have survived over time and in time there could only be one basic common and acceptable core thought, humaneness. To accept each other’s right to live with dignity.” 

“My early years proved to be formative for my work as a writer and activist. I also have a different approach to my writing process and I mull over the subjects in depth before setting out on the creative journey,” she added.

The five-day haven of literature that started on Thursday brings together renowned authors, thinkers, philosophers from around the world. Speakers will bring their thoughts, ideas, journeys and experiences to the festival through debates, discussions and readings.

With her keynote speech, Mahasweta Devi set the tone for a meaningful exchange of ideas throughout the duration of the festival.

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