A new life amid the pandemic offers a sense of where we can go from here. So that we do not just go back to normal. So change is the only constant. What do we change? Our whole way of life…That’s the premise of the first digital edition of the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival (KSLF) 2020, which will be held online from October 9 to 11.
For the past eight years, October has been synonymous with KSLF, attracting readers to the idyllic Kasauli Club in Himachal for three days of absorbing discussions, debates, interactions with leading authors and literary personalities, apart from book launches, musical mornings, evenings and informal gatherings.
The need of the hour, agrees Niloufer Bilimoria, is to not risk the health and safety of anyone, so after a lot of thought and many discussions they decided to have KSLF in a digital avatar.
“Initially, we didn’t plan a festival as we were nervous about the fact that there is so much happening online. But then there are so many things that we want to say, and the festival is the best platform to share thoughts, ideas, concerns, challenges and most importantly what we are witnessing, feeling, going through. From the migrant crisis to the tough times most of us have faced, the introspection many of us have encountered, the festival will resonate the many dimensions of a new life we have encountered and hopefully help people to understand to keep the new life, and go back to themselves. And like always, it will be a hopeful festival,” says Niloufer.
The theme for this year, ‘A New Life’, offers a sense of where we can go from here, so that we don’t just go back to life as normal.
As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them.” So change is the only constant and according to Rahul Singh, they intend to suffuse it with considerable optimism. The online sessions will reach out to hundreds of thousands in India and abroad and this KSLF, as before, will continue to reflect some of the concerns and passions of Khushwant Singh, who did much of his writing in the sylvan surroundings of Kasauli. These include the preservation of the environment, education of the girl child and promoting the democratic values that make us such a diverse society, with a myriad faiths and cultures. KSLF is also dedicated to the Indian soldier. Several sessions are planned over the three evenings in October and a galaxy of writers and celebrities will be discussing their recent books, while interacting with interlocutors.
The speakers include Pico Iyer, essayist, novelist and travel writer; Amitav Ghosh, historical novelist and environmentalist; Fareed Zakaria, internationally renowned TV commentator and best-selling writer; Harsh Mander, activist and passionate upholder of democratic values; Shobhaa De, outspoken columnist and writer who highlights the issues of the day; Sudha Murty, prime philanthropist; Chetan Bhagat, one of India’s most renowned writers and columnists; Jono Lineen, explorer extraordinaire who has traversed much of the Himalayas on foot; and polar explorer and Renaissance man Erling Kagge, among others.
“The first digital edition of KSLF promises to be thought-provoking, stimulating and pointing us in the direction of a new life,” sums up Singh.
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