Changing social and cultural trends in China with focus on writing will be one important focus area in the upcoming third Guwahati Literary Festival that will be held here in the last week of December.
Disclosing this here on Thursday, Assam Education Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said while the Northeast shares about 1280 kms of boundary with China, very little is discussed in the region about socio-cultural changes that are taking place in the neighbouring country. “It is very important for people to know what is happening in the neighbourhood, and writers can play a major role in disseminating information about them,” the minister said.
“The Guwahati Literary Festival is one opportunity where participants will listen to two eminent China scholars Prof Pushpesh Pant and Alka Acharya will be discussing about China. Rajen Saikia, former president of the Indian History Association will also take part in the discussion,” Bordoloi, who is also chairman of Assam Publication Board, which organizes the Festival, said.
China incidentally has figured prominently in several Assamese works of fiction, the first being Jnanpith award-winning author Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya’s “Shataghni” written in the backdrop of the Chinese aggression of 1962. Five decades later Sahitya Akademi award winner Rita Choudhury came out with “Makam”, a novel that highlighted the plight of people of Chinese origin in the wake of the 1962 war with China.
The Guwahati Literary Festival, which will be held from December 27 to 29, will also have a session on reflection of the Second World War in literature in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. The Northeast had become an important scene of the World War after the Allied Forces had retreated following intense Japanese attack in Burma (present-day Myanmar).
“People of the Northeastern region were witness to a crucial phase of the World War, especially with the Battle of Kohima now regarded as a turning point in world history. The War has figured prominently in Assamese and Manipuri literature, while writers like Easterine Kire of Nagaland and Siddhartha Sharma of Assam have written wonderful fiction in English woven around the Battle of Kohima,” minister Bordoloi said.
A galaxy of eminent writers like Mark Tully, Namita Gokhale, Jerry Pinto, Urvashi Butalia, Mitra Phukan, Arup Kumar Dutta, Sanjoy Hazarika, Robin Ngangom, Aruni Kashyap, Monalisa Changkija, Preeti Gill, CP Surendran, Janice Pariat, Dhrubajyoti Bora and Arnab Goswami are taking part in various sessions spread over the three days.