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CURTAINS ON SHIMLA INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE FESTIVAL – Heated exchanges on dynastic politics, rights of tribals

By June 25, 2018No Comments

Source : The Tribune

The concluding day of the Shimla International Literature Festival on Sunday saw heated exchanges on political topics such as dynastic politics and rights of tribals among writers, who remained divided on the issues.

The key speaker for the tribals was Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, a Santhal tribal writer, who has written “The Adivasi will not dance”. He brought into focus the status of tribals, including customary drinking that prevails among them, in Himachal and Uttarakhand.

In a question and answer session on the topic, “Banned in India: Muffled Voices” which was moderated by Purnima Chaudhary, Shekhar narrated how the book had cost him his medical job, yet he he did not give in. His book tells the story of a Santhali girl who sells her body for a paltry sum. He also narrated how he faced the wrath of a group of Adivasis on the social media, who called his work nothing but “porn.”

They demanded his ouster from Jharkhand, organised protest marches and burnt his effigy. The state government banned the book on the ground that it had potrayed Santhal women “in a bad light”.

Dr Bhavan Singh, a tribal scholar from Uttarakhand, quizzed Shekhar on customary drinking in the tribal society of Uttarakhand, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti, where it is called chang.

Shekhar said nothing was being done for the well-being of the tribals.

“The rights of tribals needed to be respected as they were as civilised as we are”, added Purnima at the end of the session.

The topic, Parivarvad: Tryst with Indian politics, was a heated debate on the dynastic rule with some writers having pro-Congress leanings supporting it while others who were pro-BJP, opposing it. 

First-ever event

  • The first-ever two-day Shimla International Literature Festival was inaugurated by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur at the historic Gaiety Theatre.
  • The festival was organised by the Vibhor Literature Trust in collaboration with the Department of Art, Language and Culture of Himachal Pradesh. The idea is to give a platform to writers and story tellers of the country cutting across all barriers of regions and languages to present “One India”.

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