Current Affairs Leads Conversation at the Third-Annual ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival

Current Affairs Leads Conversation at the Third-Annual ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival

The first and second day of the third-annual ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival at Boulder at the Main Boulder Public Library, September 15 and 16, featured 29 sessions that covered topics ranging from Slumdog Millionaire and Spotlight to climate change, sexuality, Russia and North Korea.

Freedom to Dream is the theme of the 2017 ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in Boulder, Colorado. The inaugural session of the internationally-acclaimed literature festival opened with sacred chanting by Gaden Shartse Monks followed by inspiring remarks from festival directors and producers. Distinguished, contemporary authors from around the world gather at ZEE JLF at Boulder to engage in provocative dialogue about complex and diverse topics including migrating, poets, American dreams, globalism, nationalism, climate control, feminism, ancestral cultures and more.

"This is our third year in Boulder, Colorado and it is absolutely essential and vital to have platforms where we can all listen to some of the great minds-not for the sake of entertaining us but to imagine for us another world, another people, another history, another philosophy," said Festival Producer Sanjoy K. Roy. "Our festival directors have an incredible program of writers and speakers you'll enjoy and we hope you'll take away some of their key points and ideas."

The opening address featured Festival Co-directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple, Festival Producer Sanjoy K. Roy of Teamwork Arts, Indian Ambassador to the United States, Navtej Sarna, and CEO ZEE LIVE & ZEE Talent | Head - Corporate Brand & Communications, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, Sunil Buch.

His Excellency Navtej Sarna, India's Ambassador to the United States, extolled the benefits of the growing interest in literature given. "This is India's 70th year of independence. We have come a long way. Where we once had few writers, we now have many and the journey of our literature's outreach to the world is one of the most significant aspects of this journey as Indian writing has now been brought to the world. India is now a literary destination and a reading destination and the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival has led this growth."

"The world's finest writers are now at one of the largest literature festivals in the world," said Sunil Buch, CEO of ZEE Entertainment. "I want to share with people who want to dream about making this place a better place to live that there are ways. This festival is about great writing and this is the mecca of literature right here. We need to be educated, enlightened and aware."

Other Friday sessions included:

The Beat Generation: Anne Waldman in conversation with Andrew Schelling. The third edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival at Boulder kicked off with a session featuring legendary poet Anne Waldman in conversation with Andrew Schelling. Waldman is a card-carrying, living member of the Beat lineage. She still writes from that passionate embrace of personal freedom and social revolution. Speaking with fellow poet, Schelling, Waldman read and riffed at the Boulder Public Library on the impact of the Beat poets, decades later, on the political and social culture in the US - and all over the world. "The Beat movement was not just another literary school. It was an artistic and social revolution," said Waldman.

Slumdog Millionaire: Diplomat and author Vikas Swarup discussed his life and work with journalist Namita Bhandare at the third edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in Boulder, Colorado. Vikas Swarup, the Indian Ambassador to Canada, wrote the book Q&A, which became the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire, and went on to win eight Academy Awards in 2009. "I'm naturally attracted to the tale of the underdog; about ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. It's the sense of curiosity that draws us to these stories," said Swarup.

"His books are gripping; they are fabulous. They have a sly, sense of humor and they're marvelous. As a reader, I find Q&A to be beautifully plotted. Here's a boy from the slums, who's never gone to school, goes on a game show and is able to correctly answer all the questions the game show people ask so they're convinced he's cheating. The facts of his life actually gave him the answers to all the questions. It's a beautiful structure. It's sheer genius," said Bhandare.
"No one had ever revealed the private life of their protagonist. That's what's unique about the book. The movie changed some of the individual stories; but it didn't change the narrative. The movie got its fair share of criticism in India. A case was filed against me, the director and the screenplay writer for denigrating people who lived in slums. The judge called it nonsense and said it was just a word and they lost the case," said Swarup.

Saturday morning sessions included:

Neighbors in Arms: The Pressler Amendment. Former Senator Larry Pressler and Shashi Tharoor in conversation with John Elliott. India and Pakistan have been locked in a hostile embrace for decades. When President George W. Bush could not certify that Pakistan was not developing a nuclear weapon, Senator Larry Pressler advocated the Pressler Amendment in an attempt (that failed) to monitor and potentially restrict economic and military assistance to Pakistan. A fascinating session on a significant chapter in the history of global nuclear politics, revealing behind-the-scene deliberations between the United States and the neighbors in arms.

John Elliot asked of Larry Pressler, "The aim of what was known as the Pressler Amendment, introduced by Ronald Reagan in 1985, was to give the President a vehicle to stop aid and defense supplies to Pakistan if it was developing nuclear weapons. How do you assess its failure?"

"I say in my book, we did not succeed, said Pressler. The effort though was successful to some extent."

"It became a tool to serve the executive rather than to serve the goal of the actual amendment, said Shashi Tharoor. "In other words, it gave the executive an out. It was successful in putting Pakistan on notice, that now there was a new legislative instrument available. Should the administration want to get tough on them. No U.S. administration, particularly during the years when the Soviets were still in occupation in Afghanistan, was going to be turning the screws on Pakistan beyond a point," said Tharoor

Larry Pressler - "Senator John Glenn and I, and others, decided to sponsor some legislation. Most people just make speeches about it. It is very dangerous to sponsor legislation and vote on it."

Larry Pressler - "We do have to keep Nuclear Non-Proliferation as one of our goals, in the world... and I hope other countries will step up to the plate more."

Pressler said, "We do have to keep Nuclear Non-Proliferation as one of our goals, in the world... and I hope other countries will step up to the plate more."

Tharoor replied, "Why do the Brits need Nukes?! In India the state has an army, in Pakistan the army has a state."

Mogador: The Quest. Alberto Ruy Sánchez in conversation with Anosh Irani. Alberto Ruy Sánchez, distinguished author and editor, in a session on his travels, writing, and his quest to recreate worlds using poetry and mystical imagery. In conversation with writer Anosh Irani, he speaks of his first novel "Mogador," written with what he calls "prose of intensities," and the books that followed.

"The writer can make the invocation of the fire but only the reader can make it be alive," said Sánchez.

Living the Classics: Dan-el Padilla Peralta and Donna Zuckerberg with Johanna Hanink in conversation. Around the world, classical civilizations have formed an enduring template for literature and thought. What can we learn from the Greeks and the Romans? How do Greek tragedy and comedy help us understand modern day relationships? Three classicists, Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Donna Zuckerberg, and Johanna Hanink, examine the living legacy of the ancient world and the enduring value of classical literatures in terms of their interpretation in contemporary society.

"The term classicist is evolving, "I like to call myself 'classic-ish,'" said Johanna Hanink.

"Presenting the ancient world as anything other than completely white is problematic because whiteness was not really a concept that existed back then," said Donna Zuckerberg.

"There is a cloud of epistemic uncertainty hovering over political and social discussions of the classics and their uses," said Dan-el Padilla. "I don't believe in the value of subtlety in addressing these kinds of issues."

Spotlight: Michael Rezendes in conversation with Mukund Padmanabhan. Famed journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Rezendes is a member of The Boston Globe's Spotlight Team. In conversation with Mukund Padmanabhan, Editor in Chief of the iconic Indian newspaper, The Hindu, he speaks of the values, veracity and commitment required for investigative journalism and the changing definitions of news in the current media landscape.

"It's very important for reporters to listen to people we might not normally talk to, to people who aren't in our income group or our neighborhood-to consider constituencies who are voiceless and give them a voice. So it's important to talk to people who aren't like ourselves, " Michael Rezendes. "There was a man who stood outside a vice-president's house with a sign saying "I've been raped by a priest" and yet he was ignored."

"People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own versions of the facts," said Rezendes. "We live in a world today where it seems acceptable to have alternative facts."

The Untrod Path: Writing Travel: Christina Lamb, John Huston, Lori Erickson, Navtej Sarna and William Dalrymple in conversation with Irene Vilar. In a suddenly shrunken planet, the conventions of travel writing are being challenged by more experiential insider accounts. Five panelists speak of their very different approaches to recording and sharing their journeys with Irene Vilar.

"Does travel writing still have a role in an age when everyone travels and google maps can take you anywhere, instantly, on your laptop?" said William Dalrymple.

"The barbed wire was rolled up many years ago but the virtual barrier between east and west Jerusalem still remains," said Navtej Srana.

"Yet for all this destruction, in some places the shrapnel marks were strangely beautiful, like a Kandinsky abstract: a perfect peppering of dots and dashes," said Dalrymple

"You know we say the devil landed in Kabul when he was cast out of heaven, said Christina Lamb.

"While the number of nuns and monks is going down, the number of people looking to experience serenity of these places is going up," said Lori Erikson.

"On polar expeditions we blog everyday through satellite, people can follow along in real time," said John Huston.

About the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival at Boulder, Colorado
In its 10th year, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in India is the world's largest free literature festival, drawing some 350,000 footfalls at Diggi Palace in the Rajasthan's capital Jaipur, this past January. The festival serves as a beacon of free speech around the world, and has inspired more than 200 other literature festivals, both in India and other countries. ZEE JLF was recently awarded 'Best Festival' at the Outlook Traveller Awards in India.

Dubbed "the greatest literary show on Earth," ZEE JLF successfully expanded to London in 2014, and selected Boulder as its only U.S. location in 2015. Voted the U.S.'s brainiest (more Ph.D.'s per capita than any other US city) happiest and foodiest city, the Festival was wildly successful in its first two years in Boulder. Festival organizers expect more than 10,000 people to attend this year from throughout the country and around the world.

The 2016 ZEE JLF at Boulder saw close to 7,000 people attending the three-day Festival, held at the Main Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave. Attendees from throughout the U.S. and across the globe experienced an uplifting celebration of the mind and heart, as writers from across the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe engaged in provocative conversations. Topics of discovery spanned life and society, economics and the arts, equity, freedom and the care of our planet.

About ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival
Writers and Festival Directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple invite speakers to take part in the five-day program set against the backdrop of Rajasthan's stunning cultural heritage and the Diggi Palace in the state capital Jaipur. Website:

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival is a flagship event of Teamwork Arts, which produces over 25 highly acclaimed performing arts, visual arts and literary festivals across more than 40 cities globally, and is produced by Sanjoy K. Roy. Website:

About Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL)
Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) is a worldwide media brand offering entertainment content to diverse audiences. With a presence in over 172 countries and a reach of more than a billion people around the globe, ZEEL is among the largest global content companies across genres, languages, and platforms.

ZEEL is present across broadcasting, movies, music, live entertainment, digital and talent businesses, both within India and overseas. ZEEL has more than 240,000 hours of television content and houses the world's largest Hindi film library with rights to more than 4,200 movie titles across various languages. ZEEL has also produced several movies for theatrical release and is the fastest growing music label in India. It has presence in the digital space with 'dittoTV' and 'OZEE' and has also ventured into live events. More information about ZEE and its businesses is available on

Related Articles View More Books Stories

More Hot Stories For You