We write about some of the interesting sessions that took place over the week at JLF 2022.
The Jaipur Literature Festival 2022 is unfolding in a hybrid avatar and with new enthusiasm as the Literature Festival marks a return to the field after the pandemic. As speakers sit down to discuss various issues and share their journeys, we write about some notable personalities and issues that have been featured over the week.
A CEO remembers
Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was in talks with Aparna Piramal Raje for the session My whole life: work, family and our future March 7. She thought back to her growing up years when her grandfather told her to never stop learning and wasting time. “So when I’m sitting quietly, I feel like I’ve wasted five minutes of my time. I’m constantly thinking about what I can do to help someone change the world. I’m constantly trying to reading, studying or doing something. That’s why meditation was never a part of my life,” she said, in stark contrast to today’s young ideology that is moving away of the culture of unrest, especially after the pandemic.
When Raje asked Nooyi to share the story of when she felt she wasn’t getting her due, to inspire young people, the former CEO shared that dealing with humans involves many levels of complexity. . “Sometimes you come to dead ends or you feel like you’ve done a great job, but people don’t accept it. Nothing in life is easy. Just because you’ve done your homework doesn’t mean people will accept it. Whenever these kinds of obstacles come your way, reconceptualize your situation,” she said. Nooyi suggested to the youngsters that they should understand the timing and when the time is not right, they should stop and come back after a little while with different content.
The silent pandemic
On the sixth day of the festival, during the session entitled The gendered contagion which had speakers like Sohaila Abdulali, Pragya Tiwari and Chinmay Tumbe in conversation with Amita Nigam Sahaya, the silent pandemic was tackled. Amita Nigam Sahaya, a social entrepreneur working in the gender space, addressed the silent pandemic by talking about women locked up with their abusers. She mentioned how the extended closures meant long periods of suffering and silence for victims of sexual and domestic abuse. “The extended lockdowns allowed victims to stay in closed compounds with the perpetrators,” she said. Talking about it, according to her, is half the way to remedying it.
Frustration over unemployment during the pandemic has been another contributing factor to domestic violence, according to journalist and political and cultural consultant Pragya Tiwari.
Chinmay Tumbe, a faculty member in economics at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, spoke about what the pandemic had done to women in terms of migration and raised the issue of the hospitality of cities and how whose displacement has become an issue during the pandemic.
Publish without borders
During the sixth day of the festival, Pragya Tiwari spoke with Naveen Kishore from one of India’s most prominent publishing houses, Seagull Books, who has completed four decades in publishing, during a session Editions sans frontières: Seagull at 40. The publishing house has more than 500 titles, including those by Nobel laureates and Man Booker International Prize winner Laszlo Krasznahorkai. Kishore opened up about his humble beginnings as he discussed what led him to name his publishing company Seagull. “I started as a theater lighting designer. I worked on stage for a local band called Great Bear and Seagull Empire was one of their hits. Seagull is also American slang for cocaine. When I ventured into publishing, I settled on the Seagull name,” he recalls. Tiwari shared how Kishore got rid of clauses that shackles writers and said his value system is reflected in his work ethic. She further asked the publisher what made them survive the test of time when the major publishing houses closed. To this, Kishore said that when in 2005 they decided to open Seagull Books London, they made sure their backlist was their strength. “We must also continue to reinvent its authors. As with the works of Mahasweta Devi, there are reprints, audio format launches, etc., so you can keep bringing back canonical names,” he added.