ZEE JLF at The British Library opened its doors today, filling the historic spaces of London’s iconic literary venue and welcoming over 100 eminent authors and thinkers from across the globe to showcase South Asia’s literary heritage, multilingualism, oral traditions, performing arts, books and ideas.
At the Inaugural Address: Imagining Our Worlds on Friday 8 June, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts and producer of the ZEE JLF at The British Library, Sanjoy K. Roy, welcomed a packed house of attendees. He commented, ‘London is the capital of the arts world and it was important for us to set up a platform here to bring together authors to debate and discuss, and most importantly to dissent. It is through dissent that we create some kind of dialogue, and have a sense of everybody’s point of view being expressed.’
Festival Co-Director Namita Gokhale said it was an ‘emotional moment’ to see the opening of the festival at the British Library after all the hard work of the year. She quipped, ‘Whatever part of the world you’re in, it’s confusing these days, but we welcome you to three days of journeys across time and space.’
Festival Co-Director William Dalrymple observed that the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival is the largest literature festival in the world, with over half a million footfalls recorded this year, reflecting that the festival’s achievement lay in the fact that it provides democratic access to a spectrum of speakers unprecedented under one roof.
The Opening Address – India Sutra: Why I Am A Hindu featured Indian writer and politician Shashi Tharoor in conversation with Namita Gokhale. Tharoor discussed the difference between the ‘vision’ of Hinduism and the ‘social practise’ of Hinduism, which he claimed is often ‘distorted’ for political means. He claimed that it is ‘wrong and distorted’ to use Hinduism politically, and ‘there is the need to reclaim Hindusim’ for its vision as a faith, ‘with ideas of life and purpose of this planet.’
Tharoor also emphasised that ‘Caste is not intrinsic to Hinduism as a religion. Caste is abominable, discriminating against human beings.’ He urged people to stop seeking ‘spiritual sanction’ for abominable behaviour, and pointed out that ‘everyone has the right to be angry if they have suffered discrimination. Those who haven’t, have an obligation to help them get over that anger and be allowed to live decent human lives.’
2018 marks the fifth anniversary of the Festival’s presence in London. The producers, Teamwork Arts along with co-directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple have curated a bespoke programme for UK audiences featuring dialogue and debate from across the South Asian region, highlighting its cultural and social diversity and shedding new light on its current relationship with the UK.
ZEE JLF at The British Library’s partners include title partner ZEE Entertainment, tourism partner Rajasthan Tourism, hospitality partner St. James’ Court, and festival partners Asia House, Aga Khan Foundation and Litro Magazine.
All events and sessions take place at The British Library, 96 Euston Road, Kings Cross, London NW1 2DB.