Bhubaneswar, Oct 3;
Union minister and author Shashi Tharoor on Thursday said ignorance is at the root of much of the violence in the world today.
“It is true of terrorism, as it is of modern civil conflicts, that men of war prey on the ignorance of the populace to instil fears and arouse hatreds,” Tharoor said while inaugurating the second edition of the Odisha Literary Festival organized by the New Indian Express here on Thursday.
“If only half the effort had gone into teaching those people what unites them, and not what divides them, unspeakable crimes could have been prevented,” he said referring to the genocide in countries like Bosnia and Rwanda.
He said that a work of fiction must rise above its origins, its settings, even its language, to provide a reader anywhere some insight into the human condition before it can aspire to become literature. “Read my books and other Indian writers not because we are Indian, not necessarily because you are interested in India, but because they are worth reading in themselves,” he said and added ,” Each time you pick up one of my books, ask not for whom I write: I write for you.”
Welcoming Tharoor, Editorial Director of The New Indian Express Prabhu Chawla listed the large number of books the former UN deputy secretary general has written and hailed him as a widely published critic, commentator and columnist.
The idea behind the festival was to refocus attention on Indian Literature, Chawla said pointing out that unlike other literary festivals which promote largely Indian writing in English or works of fiction and non-fiction by foreigners, this event focuses as much on regional, particularly Odia literature, poetry and culture, as on English and other Indian languages.
The day saw six more sessions with eminent writers speaking on a host of subjects. Amit Agarwal, Anuj Bahri, Baijayant Panda, Namita Gokhale and Kapish Mehra discussed the topic “Is India a reading nation?”
Ashin Sanghi, Anand Neelakantam, Anuja Chandramouli and Arshia Sattar debated on “The resurgent lure of mythology”. Anuj Bhari, Kapish Mehra, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Supriya Dravid deliberated on “How do you get published?” while the session on “The charm of the novel Vs the short story” had Jerry Pinto, Tishani Doshi and Vikas Swarup as panelists.
The last sessions of the day was “How to make it tasty” with Pushpesh Pant, Sujit Mohapatra and Tara Deshpande as panelists and the opening day’s proceedings rounded off with poetry recital by Anamika Amber and Saurabh Suman.