ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Talking Literature

The Bangalore Literature Festival turned out to be a forum for pleas for a post-national south Asia structure.

For years now, many of us have been voicing pleas for a federation or a European Union (EU)-like structure in south Asia, with open borders across India and Pakistan. It was nice to have this thought reinforced at the session on transnational writings across south Asia during the 27-29 September Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) organised by the Himal Research Institute for South Asian Research and Exchange (HRI), a unit of the Kathmandu-based Himal Southasian magazine. The session hosted Kanak Dixit, editor of Himal, Babar Ayaz and Mira Hashmi from Pakistan, Farrah Ghuznavi from Bangladesh, and Ashok Ferry from Sri Lanka. There were other sessions with writers from elsewhere in south Asia, including one with Nighat Gandhi, who claims a multinational identity.

I have always wondered why these literary festivals are not called “city-English lit-fests”. Typically, they feature a couple of sessions in what is now called bhasha but mostly it is a show by Englishwallahs for Englishwallahs. They are the ones who groan under the burden of looking modern while hefting the remnants of provincial feudal values on their shoulders. They live under the illusion that just because they share the English language with so many others across the world, they have a “global” character.

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