The curtain has risen on the literary event of the year as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Series Jaipur Literature Festival 2024 kicked off at Hotel Clarks Amer. Recognized globally as the “greatest literary show on Earth,” the festival’s first day set the stage for a series of engaging discussions, captivating performances, and thoughtful reflections on literature and culture.
The festival commenced with a heartfelt tribute to Pandit Kumar Gandharva on his birth centenary by classical vocalist Kalapini Komkali, setting a sublime tone for the inaugural session at the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Series Front Lawn. The illustrious assembly of writers, speakers, and opinion-makers witnessed an emotional rendition of bhajans by Kalapini, including one popularized by Pandit Kumar Gandharva himself.
Sanjoy K. Roy, Festival Producer, and Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, took the audience on a nostalgic journey, reminiscing about the 17-year evolution of the iconic festival. From its humble beginnings at Diggi Palace to its current stature at Clarks Amer, Roy highlighted the festival’s growth, spreading its influence across the United States, London, and beyond. He also underscored the festival’s commitment to environmental sustainability, announcing initiatives to make it carbon neutral and waste neutral in collaboration with ReNew Power and the United Nations India Office.
The Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Diya Kumari, expressed gratitude for putting Jaipur on the world map through the literature festival. She remarked, “Jaipur is synonymous with the Lit fest, and I have been a part of it since the beginning, since 2006.” The inaugural session paid homage to luminaries such as Patrick French and BN Goswamy, honoring their integral roles in the festival’s history.
Namita Gokhale, Festival Co-director and renowned writer, marveled at the diversity that the festival weaves across five days, bringing together streams and rivers of individual narratives into a sea of collective experiences. Gokhale stated, “This is a collective experience that we have here,” emphasizing the festival’s ability to unite literary, geographic, and linguistic diversity.
William Dalrymple, Festival Co-director, historian, and writer, pondered over India’s role as the origin of literary festivals that have now proliferated globally. Dalrymple remarked, “It all started here. But why?” The inaugural ceremony concluded with addresses from Festival Partner, Senior Vice President of Samsung India, Mr. Raju Pullan, and Festival Patron, MD and CEO of AU Bank, Sanjay Agarwal. Mr. Pullan highlighted the role of technology in uniting creativity and expressed Samsung’s excitement to partner with such an illustrious festival.
The first day featured a plethora of enriching sessions with renowned authors and speakers.
Songs of Milarepa: Speakers Andrew Quintman and Kelly Dorji explored the life and contributions of Tibetan saint Milarepa, highlighting his transformative journey from suffering to enlightenment. Quintman noted Milarepa’s unique ability to teach not only humans but also animals, relying on the tools of poetry.
Baal-O-Paar: The Beating Heart of Poetry: Gulzar and Rakhshanda Jalil, in conversation with Pavan K. Varma, discussed Gulzar’s book, showcasing his unpublished work over the years. The session delved into the art of translation and the delicate relationship between the writer and translator.
Philosophy, Fantasy, and Fandom: B. Jeyamohan and Suchitra Ramachandran, in conversation with Anjum Hasan, explored Jeyamohan’s work in philosophy and his book “The Abyss.” The session highlighted the literary movement in Tamil Nadu and the connection writers build through modern platforms like websites.
A Bigger Picture: Malcolm Turnbull, in conversation with Navdeep Suri, reminisced about their respective roles as the High Commissioner of India to Australia and the Prime Minister of Australia. Turnbull emphasized Australia’s diversity and multiculturalism, emphasizing the need for strong mutual respect among citizens.
Prophet Song: Paul Lynch, in conversation with Nandini Nair, discussed his Booker Prize-winning book “Prophet Song.” Lynch shared his journey as a writer and the intuitive process of creating a novel, emphasizing the importance of not knowing the entire path beforehand.
Intertidal: A Coast and Marsh Diary: Yuvan Aves and Robert Macfarlane, in conversation with Colin Thubron, provided deep observations of coasts and marshlands. Aves and Macfarlane shared their experiences, with Aves carrying a fossilized trilobite as a witness from the ocean.
Cricket: The Spirit of The Game: Amrit Mathur, Ajay Jadeja, and Venkat Sundaram, in conversation with Amrish Kumar, shared anecdotes and reflections on cricket. Ajay Jadeja reminisced about the memorable 1992 series against South Africa, emphasizing the changing approach to the game.
Lessons in Chemistry: Bonnie Garmus, in conversation with Bee Rowlatt, discussed her book “Lessons in Chemistry” and the challenges of writing. Garmus highlighted the balance between dark and light in her work, expressing the incredible feeling of communicating passionately with readers.
Breaking the Mould: Reimagining the Economic Future: Raghuram Rajan and Rohit Lamba, in conversation with Naushad Forbes, delved into the unconventional lessons of their book “Breaking the Mould.” The session highlighted the need for new ways for India to grow economically and the importance of focusing on education.
The Great Experiment: Democracy, Elections, and Citizenship: S.Y. Quraishi, Girish Kuber, and Yascha Mounk, in conversation with Mandira Nayar, discussed democracy in India as an ongoing experiment. Quraishi emphasized the initial skepticism about India’s choice of democracy and the need for continuous improvement.
The festival also featured a new venue, Nand Ghar, a flagship social impact project under the Anil Agarwal Foundation. With 5800+ centers across 14 states, Nand Ghar aims to transform the lives of children and women. The first day at Nand Ghar included a session by artist and writer Abhisek Singh, exploring ancient Indian stories and the sources of beliefs.
As the literary celebration unfolds, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Series Jaipur Literature Festival promises more stimulating sessions, featuring personalities from various fields. The festival continues its tradition of bringing together the brightest minds, inspiring creativity, and fostering diverse conversations across literature, politics, and mathematics. Stay tuned for more literary magic in the days to come.