Climate change takes centre stage at Mountain Echoes Litfest (Lead, Correcting headline)

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Thimphu, Aug 27 (IANS) It may be wrong to say that the first day of the Mountain Echoes Literature Festival here began on a “positive note” as renowned author Amitav Ghosh painted a gloomy picture of the dangers of climate change looming over the world.

The three-day festival, which was inaugurated on Thursday, is hosting more than 50 writers from Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, and Australia, among others. It is an initiative of the India­ Bhutan Foundation, in association with Siyahi, powered by the Rajasthan government’s Department of Tourism.

Regretting the lack of literature on climate change, Ghosh, author of “Great derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable’ blamed it on indifference and the failure of finding ways to tell these difficult stories, often with no human protagonists.

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Citing examples of the Mumbai floods and other natural disasters, he cautioned of more calamities in store.

“The urban middle class is going to be disproportionately affected in the years to come. The reason is that we don’t see any more traditional resilience and all institutions concerned saying one thing and doing another,” Ghosh said.

Pulling no punches, Ghosh warned that he couldn’t see any solution in sight.

In another session, “Shelfies: Libraries in the Digital Age”, authors Mridula Koshy, Karma Lhazom and Natsuo Miyashita discussed how libraries function as community spaces more than being repositories of books.

Demonstrating the power of libraries, Natsuo Miyashita and Fujiko Signs made a presentation about a mobile library project in Myanmar. Another heartening example from Gujarat showed how a community library project managed to attract three lakh readers in one year.

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Breaking away from the notion that romantic comedies never have sequels because everyone lived happily ever after, popular writer Graeme Simsion argued that he wrote the sequel of “The Rosie Project”, as a domestic drama, disappointing many romcom fans.

Simsion, whose books are a global success, said that he wanted to explore the idea of enduring love in addition to the act of falling in love, and his third novel has his protagonist having to choose between the two.

In another session, “Network News: The Online Buzz”, the merits and pitfalls of online journalism were discussed threadbare.

In the session “Of the People, For the People”, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje spoke about her government’s people-friendly initiatives and how woman-friendly schemes and environmentally progressive measures have changed the face of the state.

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People are divorced from their culture when governments and institutions take over the management of their heritage buildings, she added.

The day drew to a close with a powerful performance by Mita Vasisht and Sangita Kathiwada: “She, Of The Four Names: Poetry of Lal Ded”.

(Preetha Nair is in Thimpu at the invitation of the Mountain Echoes Litfest organisers. She can be contacted at [email protected])


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