This year third edition of Times Litfest Delhi 2017 was hosted on November 25 and 26. The festival was inaugurated by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu showcasing the marquee debate “Nationalism in 21st century India: a unifying or divisive force?”.
The highly intellectual minds of India like authors, artists, poets and thinkers came together to ‘Celebrate New India’. This power packed literary fest saw an amazing list of bright-minded speakers from across the country debating on the country’s achievements and having discussion on country’s future.
The list of prominent speakers included Nandita Das, Anupama Chopra, Shobha De, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Kamal Haasan, Swara Bhaskar, Gurmehar Kaur Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Devdutt Pattanaik, Sunita Narain, Bhawna Somaaya, Abhinav Bindra, Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan, Amish Tripathi and Baba Ramdev. They assessed the stand of India as a country and where it headed through debates and talks.
Many interesting topics were covered in the sessions like Gurmehar Kaur spoke about the presence of youth on social media. Capital city’s polluted air was also discussed. The attendees listened to Sunita Narain on the challenges of keeping Delhi’s air clean. There was a session titled “Nationalism and the arts” where Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar were guest speakers and it was moderated by Sanjay Roy.
Shabana Azmi initiated the talk by speaking about her roots and the influence of the upbringing on her thoughts regarding culture, art, nationalism and interlinking among the three. She spoke what is her opinion on nationalism and the connection of it with the art. She said, “Any attempt to muzzle an artist’s voice is an attempt to curtail the spirit of our only loving country. We all have to stay together to keep our country free from such acts”.
Then Javed Akhtar joined her wife and poured his intellect on the debate on Nationalism-Art. Being a fearless opinion maker and speaker of his free mind, he didn’t held back and covered all the subjects freely. He stated, “There is a difference between brave and stupid or being coward and stupid. One should not speak just to feel brave or to defeat being labeled coward but should do so as per need of time and intelligence”.
Speaking on the topic of terming people national and anti-national in modern era, he said, “The first writer who was called anti-national in this continent was Taslima Nasreen after writing her book “Lazza’. Jamaat-e-Islami or VHP of Bangladesh had branded her anti-national”. He wrapped up the session with recital of few couplets of Kafi Azami and renowned poets and delivered the nationalism’s message via poetry.