The vibrant Jaipur Literature Festival concluded on a colourful note on Monday evening, bidding farewell to Jaipur with a promise to return next year. The last day saw a slightly smaller audience of literature enthusiasts, but the essence of words continued to flow through engaging sessions. The next edition of JLF is scheduled from January 30 to February 3.
The festival covered a diverse range of topics, including memoirs, sports, history, migration, and food. The final morning featured a captivating performance by Saptak Chatterjee, a third-generation Hindustani classical singer, enchanting the audience with melodious tunes on his classical violin.
On the final day of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Sharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, shared insights into her father’s views. During the UPA government, he had suggested to Sonia Gandhi that being in the opposition might have been better than leading a weak government.
Expressing concern over the current state of the Congress party, Sharmistha emphasized that her father and many Congress leaders would be upset. Dismissing rumours of joining the BJP, she affirmed her loyalty to the Congress and openly discussed various aspects related to her father, Pranab Mukherjee, and Indira Gandhi. When asked whether a non-Gandhi should lead Congress for a better future, she answered affirmatively.
Dr Manmohan Singh should get ‘Bharat Ratna’: Mukherjee
Sharmistha said, “Dr. Manmohan Singh has made an important contribution to improving India’s economy. He should get ‘Bharat Ratna’.” She added that her father respected him a lot. Narrating the relationship between When Manmohan Singh and her father she said that even after becoming the Prime Minister, he used to address her father as ‘Sir’. Although her father objected to this the ritual continued, and both respected each other.
Shahjahanabad: On Delhi’s Broken History
In the JLF session ‘Shahjahanabad: On Delhi’s Broken History,’ three historians, Swapna Liddle, Rana Safvi, and William Dalrymple engaged in an interesting discussion on the history of Shahjahanabad/Delhi. Historian and writer Swapna shared that her recently published book on Shahjahanabad holds a special place in her heart, delving into the lives of Akbar II and his son Bahadur Shah Zafar II.
Shahjahan founded the city in the 17th century, which is now the capital, Delhi. Writer Rana Safvi, with six books on Delhi, expressed a fascination for exploring the past and connecting it to the present. In discussing the recent demolition of a mosque in Mehrauli, Delhi, he highlighted that the renovation was carried out in 1983, and it was included in the monuments of the Archaeology Department.
Politicization of human movement is also new: Sam Miller
The session ‘Migrants: Interconnections Across Time’ discussed the migration patterns and habits of not only humans but also plant and animal species. Author Sam Miller points out that borders, passports and visas are recent inventions and this level of politicization of human movement is also new. He said, “We often forget that all our ancestors were migrants.”
At the same time, author Suresh Kumar Muthukumaran gave information about the role of crops and plants moving across borders and how it has affected trade and political relations.
‘Around the World in Eighty Games’ discussed
In another session, author, mathematician and professor of public understanding of science, Marcus du Sautoy’s new book Around the World in Eighty Games was discussed. In which he travels around the world exploring the origins of games and understanding what makes them fascinating.
Discuss the role of policing in public places
In the session ‘Can I Speak Freely?’, Amiya Srinivasan, Professor of Social and Political Theory at All Souls College, Oxford and renowned author, spoke on the role of policing and ‘cancel culture’ in public and private spaces. Srinivasan said, “Perhaps we are all too quick to criticize each other. Especially on social media. This is anti-intellectual.” He stressed the need to protect and preserve free speech in all areas, be it educational, political or social.