THE SEVENTH Khushwant Singh Literary Festival (KSLF) will be hosted in Kasauli. The three-day fest will commence at Kasauli Club on Friday, October 12. The festival will portray the passions, concerns and humour of late writer Khushwant Singh, who did much of his writing in Kasauli and will have a topical overriding theme, Strength of a Naari – The Rise of Women in the Age of #Me Too. The festival will also be infused with the spirit, irreverence and infectious humour that characterised the writings of Khushwant Singh. Since Kasauli is in an extremely fragile ecological zone, the preservation of environment and heritage, man-made and natural, has been a recurring theme of the festival.
This year the focus is on water. Talks and discussions through the festival will throw light on some hidden treasures of the Himalayas as well.
Kasauli being a cantonment town, the military naturally figures prominently in the literary line-up. This year’s festival will witness a discussion on a controversial best-selling book by two former spy chiefs of India and Pakistan. KSLF will also remember Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for the way he defined Islamabad’s view of New Delhi in many ways.
Khsuhwant Singh’s son, Rahul Singh, said, “This is the first continuous literature festival in Himachal and it grows with every passing year. We began with 200 people attending the first edition of the festival and now the number has grown to more than a thousand. KSLF, apart from being a celebration of literature, is also focused on causes like preserving and protecting our ecology, attention to the girl child, giving our due to the Indian soldier. Our festival is a result of the efforts of like-minded people and volunteers and their love for Khushwant Singh.”
Rahul acknowledged that with the Supreme Court passing bold judgments on triple talaq, adultery and the opening up of a male-only temple to women, 2018 has truly been the Year of Women. While talking about the festival theme, he added, “Women’s rights are indeed human rights will be highlighted at the KSLF, while women achievers from the past and present will be lauded”. The shameful neglect of our brethren in the north-east will also be addressed, he said, the signs are now evident that they are coming more into the Indian mainstream.
This year’s speakers are Karan Thapar, Shashi Tharoor, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Gurcharan Das, Prem Shankar Jha, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid, A S Dulat, Syeda Hameed, Maja Daruwala, Saeed Mirza, Wendell Rodricks, General Ata Hasnain, General Kamal Davar, Divya Dutta, Naman Ahuja, Nirupama Dutt, Robin Gupta, Kishwar Desai, Desmond Nazareth.
“Apart from some of the finest minds of our nation, who will talk about the books they have authored and on the burning issues of the day, KSLF is a platform to project people who are doing amazing work to make a difference in society,” said Rahul.