New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Despite a row involving British mining company Vedanta as its sponsor, the Southbank edition of Jaipur Literature Festival will be held in London on Saturday.
The third edition of the festival sparked a controversy after several well-known activists and academicians issued an open letter urging the participants to boycott it citing Vedanta’s alleged human rights violations.
The activists based in Britain and India, as also Europe and Africa, called upon the writers not to participate in the festival as Vedanta was the main sponsor.
“Literature doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It makes little sense to discuss books and ideas and the problems of the world in abstraction, while being funded by and publicising a company that has been and continues to be a gross violator of human rights across the world,” the open letter said.
However, a statement from organisers said “JLF at Southbank, much like the main festival, stands strong on the belief that the juxtaposition of multiple viewpoints and open dialogue is critical to finding understanding and a common ground”, it said.
The highlight of the festival includes session on ‘Ideas of India’ to discuss the diversity and plurality of the country. The participants include Swapan Dasgupta, Rakhshanda Jalil, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Mukulika Banerjee and Pragya Tiwari.
Another session, ‘Against the Grain’, to be attended by Gideon Levy, Salil Tripathi, Shatrughan Sinha and Barkha Dutt, will discuss the participants’ experience of swimming against the tide of prejudice.
In the ‘Women Writing War’ session, writers and historians including Shrabani Basu and Yasmin Khan will discuss their perspectives on the First and Second World Wars, including the little-known contributions of the erstwhile colonies.
‘The Third Gender’ will see two prominent activists A. Revathi and Laxmi Narayan Tripathi discussing their incredible physical and emotional journeys towards selfhood and a life of dignity.
The festival is also expected to take a closer look at ethnicity, cultural identity and a globalised world.
The festival will take place at The Royal Festival Hall on May 21 from 10 a.m.