North India Times

Democracy institutions in Danger :Shekhar Gupta

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literati-2014The Indian minds are closing now and getting illiberal in the race to satiate their aspirations, said Shekhar Gupta, while delivering the keynote address on the inaugural of the Chandigarh Literary Society’s litfest, Literati 2014, here today.

Shekhar, a senior journalist, columnist and author of the book, “Anticipating India” based on his regular columns,  spoke about the emergence of majoritarianism in the country giving rise to a wrong way of thinking which could endanger the growth of other democratic institutions.

While one could be a patriot and may love one’s country and yet may disagree with some of the view points, but competitive nationalism is wrongfully pushing the concept of illiberal thinking where everything done by India or Indians is right and that of the rest of the world is wrong, which is getting significantly apparent in the daily news channel discussions, Shekhar said.

He lamented that the such a nationalistic concept portrayed in Bollywood movies a decade back, like Gaddar, Border, and Kargil, has now been replaced and taken charge of by the news channels, which, in the process of competing with entertainment channels, are going overboard and stifling tolerance and liberal thought process

Citing the examples of Hitler, and the political situation in neighbouring countries, Shekhar advised that despite the majoritarianism, democratic institutions must be allowed to thrive while maintaining a judicious balance between patriotism and nationalism.

Sumita Misra, IAS, Additional Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Haryana, who is the founder chairperson of Chandigarh Literary Society (CLS), and the Festival Director for Literati-2014, in her welcome address traced the journey of CLS as a network of creative minds, nurturing ideas, talent and bringing together writers, publishers, intellectuals, students and scholars.

She said that Literati 2014 explores and celebrates literary aesthetics through various facets of nine ‘navrasas’ against which the discussions of the three-day festival are planned.

In the two pre-lunch sessions, Vandita Mishra and Rukmini Bhaya Nair would explore the subject How Right is the ‘New Right’? moderated by Shefalee Vasudev, while Vinita Dawra Nangia, Mridula Sharma, Vijay Vardhan would discuss Unquiet Dwells the Spirit will see, moderated by Abhisar Sharma

The tv and film scripts and stories would form the backdrop of the discussions on “Chote se bade parde tak” with Anubha Yadav, Nandita C. Puri, Satyarth Nayak, with Abhisar Sharma as moderator:

Ranjit Lal, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, and Charu Singh would be reading from their works in the session named, All Creatures Great and Small.

The evening session would conclude with leading lights of Punjabi literature including Jaswant Zafar, Jagmeet Singh Brar, Gurminder Sidhu, Swaranjit Savi, exploring Punjabi Poetry in the session Kalam-Kaseeda, moderated by Bubbu Tir.

In the evening at Punjab Kala Bhavan, a play on the life of Amrita Pritam, a writer, mystic, poet and a rebel, and in a way, embodiment of ‘freedom’ who lived life on her own terms.  Directed by legendary director M.S. Sathyu of ‘Garam Hawa’ fame, the play is a unique tribute to an iconoclast. The lead role as Amrita is played by charming Lavlin, an actor, poet and a film maker in her own right, and who Amrita Pritam fondly referred to Lavlin in her poetry as her soul mate.

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