Fresh controversy, glamour and Gandhi in Jaipur

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 26, 2013 20:54 hrs

Jaipur: A controversy and consequent outrage, glamour and sports, Mahatma Gandhi's contribution, Indian insurgencies, and euphoria - the third day of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 at the heritage Diggi Palace was an emotional roller-coaster.

Dalit ire against social scientist Ashis Nandy, euphoria over the presence of Rajasthan Royals skipper Rahul Dravid, and a touch of glamour by yesteryears actress Sharmila Tagore, who unveiled a biography of her (late) husband kept the nearly 30,000 strong crowd streaming in throughout the day edgy with excitement and anticipation.

Nandy was candid about corruption, saying the scourge was an equalizing force in India with Dalits, tribals and other backward classes (OBC) not exempt from it.

Dalit members in the audience demanded an explanation and by afternoon, activists of two Dalit and OBC organisations stormed into the venue in protest.

Though Nandy sought to clarify his remarks, by then a case had been lodged and political reactions followed. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati in New Delhi demanded Nandy be arrested.

Nandy was secretly smuggled out of the venue at 7 p.m.

The controversy came close on the heels of a public spat between Bollywood lyricist-cum-MP Javed Akhtar and Dalit writer Kancha Ilaiah over religion.

Around the same time at Charbagh, one of the venues in the Diggi Palace, volunteers of the festival battled to control the human surge that threatened to break through the barricades for a glimpse of Dravid, Sharmila and TV host Rajdeep Sardesai. Present in the audience was another Rajasthan Royals ace S. Sreesanth.

Releasing "Pataudi: Nawab of Cricket" by sports writer Suresh Menon, the graceful Begum Pataudi, clad in a floral sunshine chiffon, went down the memory lane to recall her days with Tiger.

How did the celebrity marriage work? Who was more popular? A mischievous Sharmila shot back, "Tiger, the cricketer, the captain."

"Tiger would often say that there were many film stars but only one Tiger."

Dravid dwelt on changes in the game.

"The Indian Premier League brought many changes in Indian cricket along with tough challenges to adapt quickly to the shorter format of the game, changes in game plan and quick solutions. It has been changing relationships among cricketers for the last five years and we understand them better," he said.

Later, Mahatma Gandhi's contribution to the destiny of the nation, world peace and contemporary politics came up for deliberations in a session "Gandhi vs Gandhi", hosting Gandhian intellectuals Richard Sorabji, Charles Di Salvo, Ananya Vajpeyi and Faisal Devji.

A bunch of socially-committed young writers, Rahul Pandita, Sudeep Chakravarti and Neelesh Mishra ripped open the faultlines in Chhattisgarh and the northeast in "Highway to Nowhere" as radical philosopher and best-selling writer Michael Sandel questioned the role of markets in a democratic society in, "What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets".

"Literature has changed. It is no longer pedagogy. There are so many shades to it," a visitor said.

At sundown, after a packed day of anger, back-to-back intellectual activity and endless cups of "kulhar chai" to beat the chill, the festival shifted venue to the open grounds of Hotel Clarks Amer for a Coke Studio concert.

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