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Literary Festival For Propaganda?

It is useless to ask if it was a literary conclave, political jamboree or outright marketing gimmick to promote sale of high priced low-quality books on the strength of wide spread sales network, patronised by the dignitaries of the state. The Award Wapasi brigade is back in Delhi to prepare the right atmosphere to challenge a man called Narendra Modi before he goes back to the battle again in 2019.

What else are literary writers doing in the name of literature but actually delivering speeches like politicians on subjects requiring high grade mastery and professional expertise on issues pertaining to politics? Wouldn’t a conclave of experts in political science serve the object much better than discussing it under the cloak of literature?

Shouldn’t literary gatherings deal with literature, literary trends, falling standards in creative literature, loss of readership, failure of India to produce a world class literary figure? What are the reasons for the Indian writers in English failing to capture the imagination of readers? Why have the Indian writers in 116 Indian languages failed to get noticed or elbowed out of such conclaves? What is the situation of publishing in the country? Why has even the government failed to promote high quality books by Indians in spite of having spent 1000s of Crores of rupees on white elephants like the National Book Trust, Publication Division and dozens of autonomous institutions set up for exactly that cause?

On the one hand, Indian scholars are being discouraged, on the other jejune, insipid, superficial writers in English are being promoted as enlightened authors. Most Indian writing in English is intelligent piracy from the rich ancient Indian epics or other works, largely misconstrued in the genre of “reverse engineering” in industrial terminology, bereft of any original ideas or expression. A critical scrutiny is likely to reveal that majority of Indian writing in English is mostly borrowed ideas or expressions from trends and publications abroad. Since these works do not deal with the Indian ethos, they look esoteric like the food on the platter in a restaurant. The writers do not have their hand on the pulse of the people, their thoughts, aspirations and struggles. Writing in the English language offers several benefits. The just concluded Times Litfest in Delhi presented an interesting insight into the commercial aspects of such literary festivals.

The irony was so clear. The government has been spending 100s of Crores on advertisements warning the people about the dangers of consuming “Pan Masala” (Pronounced Paan Masaalaa), which the medical scientists hold to be one of the causes for horrible cancer. But the “Times Litfest” logo prominently displays the dominant brand of pan masala. So, the funding for such festivals too comes from industry groups selling to the poor, farmers, workers, artisans and common people products considered to be harmful to public health.

The most objectionable part of it is that the inaugural ceremony had for the audience children from a score of public schools, which are erroneously called so even though they are in reality private schools run as profit making businesses. Only children from rich families can afford to access these schools. These children have heavy pocket money. They are the target customer group for pan masala and other drugs. The newspapers industry forcibly sells them newspapers, even though they get more than one newspaper at home. Next are these authors, who seek opportunities to be included in the school syllabus either as a text book or supplementary reading. What can be expected of learners of literature or principles of literary criticism forced to read only substandard English literature?

Should Indian writing in English churn themes pursued by English, American, French, Russian or other European writers and not concentrate on purely Indian themes? Is it rather difficult or frightening to deal with themes concerning India and the Indian people not familiar with the English language or literary traditions? Are the Indian literary writers groping in the dark because they find themselves in a laughable situation to talk progressivism of the Indian socialism variety long dead? Are they disillusioned in 2017 and find their moorings sunk in the tsunami of explosion of information, transparency revolution and vanishing of their heroes around whom they had so far woven their tales and verses? Can a conclave of such restricted group of eminent figures of Indian writers in English alone be called literary by any standard? Does it not ignore or suppress the creative talent of the majority of writers from hundreds of Indian languages? Should it not take another caption e.g. Literary Festival of Indian Writers in English?

It was painful that the TOI exploited the gracious presence of the Vice-President of India, as the TV channels and newspapers carry his photograph along with the festival logo comprising Rajanigandha brand logo and Times litfest. Now, that image will be used for marketing the pan masala. It will also be used for masala books, which by no standard qualify as “literature”. It is now for the Hon’ble Vice President to take appropriate action.

The silence of the literary writers, authors and speakers is the most painful. Was it not their duty to dissociate themselves with such a marketing gimmick using their name and fame? Should writers allow themselves to be used for marketing purposes? Is there no love for literature? Has it all become mere composition of a script for sales promotion? Can India ever achieve the heights of literary giants of yore- Indian or foreign? If literary conclaves keep going this way, there is no hope.

There is an urgent need to understand the sinister designs of hostile foreign forces abusing Soft Power of literature for seeding young Indian minds with ideas which will result in easy subjugation of India in a short time. They convert everything Indian in to a controversy. Be it patriotism, nationalism, religion, language, caste, community, society, women, children, conversion, terrorism, economy, politics, democracy, history, culture, tradition, values, norms, patterns, progress, modernity, industrialisation, labour laws, judiciary, health, research or development- they have their own ideas to push and sell. The purpose is to make the Indians feel pagan in every respect, lose self-confidence and accept their superiority.

Such claims are refuted by Indians who understand their game and challenge them. That is what they call “controversy” and harness unsuspecting literary writers, authors and journalists. The language of their public discourse is charming but it is crude if you access their true conversation within well-guarded four-walls of their cult headquarters. Does it not fall on the shoulders of the writers to scrutinise such innocuous-looking agendas of enemies of the nation or (what they call) the majority community?

These foreign forces don’t want to see India as one nation. They refuse to acknowledge the creative minds of Indian intellectuals and express their frustration in such litfests and outside when a Narendra Modi or Yogi Adityanath takes the centre stage. They consistently downplay their “leadership” qualities or creative minds. They are so disturbed that they forget even normal courtesies and tell the Prime Minister of India to simply vend tea “tu chai bech”. Tu is a highly disrespectful term in the Hindi language and only imbeciles use it for elders or superiors.

But these foreign forces have set up many politicians, some of them chief ministers, who deliberately use vulgar language to attack the prime minister as a political weapon and not by mistake. They deserve stern replies to deter their masters from using such weak minds against the public interest. They want to break India into diverse segments and treat each segment differently, praising some and condemning others, granting divine rights on one to be prime minister and imposing on the other the duty to vend tea.

The people of India are well aware of these dirty games and turn violent when hostility of these elements does not stop. Because they don’t want to be exposed to public ire, they seek cover of literary festivals, seminars and university visits abroad. To use the term of these hostile elements in their own intelligent manner, why are no literary festivals organised for writers, authors and readers of 116 Major Indian Languages and enormous Oral Literature and these English language ruling class made to actively and constructively participate? Do these people fear the “majority”? Shall the people of India suffer the rule of the “minority” Indian writers in English over the “majority” Indian writers in Indian languages and dialects eternally?

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