Source : DNA
The 2019 Jaipur Literature Festival came to a fast-paced end on Monday. Manisha Koirala, Germaine Greer, Madhavi Menon and Sonal Mansingh were in conversation with Sharad Paul on ‘Breaking Free: A New Kind of Beautiful’, where they discussed if women are under pressure to conform to others’ ideas of beauty. “It’s your art and personality which should appear as beautiful,” Koirala said.
After this, Sohaila Abdulali, in conversation with Namita Bhandare, discussed ‘What we talk about when we talk about rape’, touching on several aspects of sex and rape. “When I was raped (as a young girl of 17), my father had given me the choice to deal with the situation the way I wanted; he is a textbook example of how one should treat survivors. It was left up to me if I wanted to press charges or if I wanted to move on with my life and live it the way I envisioned it. And I chose the latter,” she said.
The session then touched upon other factors such as the shame or stigma attached to sexual assault and how the onus lies only on the woman.
‘Waste of a Nation’ had Sanchaita Gajapati and Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey as moderator, where the trio discussed the state of health and sanitation in the country. Gajapati, founder of Sana, a non-profit organisation that uses technology to provide safe drinking water and sanitation to underserved communities, explained how water, waste and sanitation are “intrinsically linked” and cannot be discussed as standalone issues. “People are not a part of the problem but a part of the solution,” she said, urging Doron to concur that people who defecate in the open are looked upon with disdain and are stigmatised, though they may not be the problem.
The day ended with a hot debate, that saw the audience clapping, praising, hooting and even booing the panel (consisting of Hardeep Singh Puri, Kapil Sibal, Makarand R Paranjape, Mihir Swarup Sharma, Sagarika Ghose, Salman Khurshid, Sonal Mansingh and Vikram Sampath, and moderted by Sreenivasan Jain) that discussed: ‘Do Liberals Stifle Debate?’ Paranjape opened the debate saying, “Ordinarily, liberals do not stifle debate. But ‘illiberals’ or bigots do. Unfortunately for us, most liberals today are illiberals, which is why we are going through the crisis, if not the twilight, of liberalism.”
Ghose then raised questions over the state of liberals who are threatened, lose their jobs, or are even murdered. “It’s not the liberals who stifle debate, but they’re the ones stifled,” she said.
And as the debate quickly turned, much to the audience’s delight, into one of those raging debates broadcast on TV news channels, there can be no argument that this, right here, is the true essence of an art festival — the coming together of differing views to exchange ideas, thoughts, and stories — a promise Jaipur Literature Festival has strived to fulfil with every year, and the years to come!