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Tata Literature Live 2017: Girish Karnad felicitated with Lifetime Achievement Award in closing ceremony

By November 20, 2017No Comments

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Most festivals which run over a course of a few days inevitably show signs of faltering towards the end. Not Tata Literature Live 2017. The final day of the festival hosted some of the most diverse set of sessions with some of the brightest minds of our generation at the helm.

Girish Karnad

First up was a fascinating presentation and discussion on the future of museums in the digital age. On the panel were Eike Schmidt, Director of Uffizi Gallery in Florence; Eugene Tan, Director of Singapore’s National Gallery; and Tristram Hunt, Director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The session was chaired by Tasneem Mehta, Director of Mumbai’s Bhau Daji Lad Museum.

To kick things off, the three directors, each gave a presentation introducing their museums and subsequently describing their current social media or digital strategy. From something as basic as having an Instagram account for the museum to making 3D scans of artworks available online, the museums are going out of their way to make their presence felt online and strike a chord with their visitors.

All three were of the opinion that the invent of social media or the availability of information online, rather than a hindrance in driving people to the museum, are tools which can be integrated with the working of a museums to to provide an enriching experience to the visitors, as well as, people who are experiencing artworks in front of a screen. In fact, according to the panel, since their museums ventured into the digital scene, the actual footfalls have increased.

Up next was a straight talk by Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics and Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. Marcus discussed parts of his latest book, What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge.

The lively session saw the author demonstrate his theories regarding what we can or cannot know about our future and the workings of the universe through practical demonstrations with the help of a dice, a couple of pendulums and a box of uranium (not really).

The 52-year-old discussed a variety of topics ranging from free will to artificial intelligence to quantum physics. Marcus also responses to an excited audience’s questions were also in-depth and lively, earning him perhaps the longest round of applause of the festival.

The late afternoon was dedicated to dictators, the elected one. That’s right, democratically elected dictators around the world. The panellists included columnist and writer, Mukul Kesavan, and former US Senator and diplomat, Peter Galbraith. The panel was chaired by author, public intellectual and social scientist Shiv Visvanathan.

The discussion revolved around who qualifies for being called a dictator, why do people willing vote for leaders with dictatorship tendencies and are the ramification once an elected dictator is in power.

The current political scenarios in countries like the United States, Russia, India, Turkey and Myanmar were the topic of intense debate. Although both the pluralist was quite articulate in their options, especially Kesavan, the session felt a bit fragmented at times, perhaps due to the vast scope of the topic of discussion.

The panel further discussed the tendency of a population in elevating their leaders to a god-like stature (something quite prevalent in India at this moment), and the consequence of doing the same.

The session was concluded with a notion of how a population should not just look at a leader but should try and understand the history behind his or her rise. The historical forces of a country that put them into a powerfully elected position they end up misusing.

Then it was time for the TATA Literature Live! Awards. The ceremony took place in front of a packed house as nine awards were handed out.

— Tata Trusts Big Little Book Awards, for Author in Bengali Children’s Literature, went to Nabaneeta Dev Sen.

— Big Little Book Award for illustration went to Proiti Roy.

— The Publisher of the Year award went to Penguin Random House.

— Business Book of the Year award went to the book Advice and Dissent: My Life in Public Service, by YV Reddy.

— First book of the year, non-fiction went to Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent, by Pranay Lal.

— The non-fiction for the same category went to Leila, Prayaag Akbar.

— Book of the year, non-fiction, went to Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra.

— Book of the year, fiction, went to Son of the Thundercloud, Easterine Kire.

Actor-playwright Girish Karnad was conferred with Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution in the field of theatre. In his speech, titled Playing on Twenty Tongues, 79-year-old Karnad talked about languages and the difficulties in translating plays.

The veteran actor-playwright spoke of how he moved from Konkani as his mother tongue, to studying Marathi and eventually falling in love with English during his time in college. “As a Kannada playwright, I have an identity. I know my audience, my language. As an Indian playwright, immediately my identity becomes fluid. It changes from one part to another,” he said during his speech.

Finally, with the release of a volume of his collected works, the evening came to a close. And with that evening, the festival.

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