‘In India, political unity does not automatically give us linguistic unity’


New Delhi: Political unity in India has not led to, or required, literary unity and hence study of Indian literature should be organized primarily in terms of linguistic traditions and regional clusters, Marxist literary theorist Aijaz Ahmad said on Thursday.

“In India, political unity does not automatically give us, or requires of us, a literary or linguistic unity.

“Hence, the study of Indian literature should be historically grounded and organized primarily in terms of particular linguistic traditions and regional clusters, and discussed on the model of what I would call regional Indian cosmopolitanism,” he said in his keynote address after lighting the ceremonial lamp to kick off the Indian Languages Festival ‘ILF Samanvay 2015’.

The annual festival, which brings together authors, writers, translators, and publishers onto the same platform, is organized by India Habitat Centre.

Festival director Rakesh Kackere said that ILF Samanvay is a wonderful meeting point for Indian languages.

“I am delighted to see that the festival started four years ago as a rendezvous for different Indian languages has attained new heights. Hope that this platform shall appreciate the beauty and nuances of different languages and ensure that the audience is able to relate to the feelings underlying their writings and voice their views on them,” he said.

With the theme of ‘Insider/Outsider, Writing India’s Dreams and Realities’, this year, the festival has broadened its mandate by developing on a range of verticals.

The new format includes curated art space, daily workshops by eminent experts in a range of topics from translation to food appreciation, book releases, social outreach in schools, and curated food stalls focusing on the food traditions of Kashmir, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra.

The second session, titled ‘Tribute and Conversation: Common People, Uncommon Minds’, paid tribute to the late cartoonist R.K. Laxman by cartoonist E.P. Unny, Krishna Prasad, Christel Devadawson with journalist Hartosh Singh Bal moderating the session. The panel also discussed the state of cartoon art in India, with Unny opining that the cartoon is developing into uncharted terrain where the “image, text and voice meet and debate”.

The evening was brought alive by a sublime Tibetan music performance by artists- Loten Namling, Sonam Dolma, and Jamyang Tashi.

Earlier in the evening, the festival also saw the launch of “Art-Articulations”, a new feature of ILF Samanvay. The art works of Riyas Komu, co-founder of the Cochin-Muziris Biennale, artist-weaver Priya Ravish Mehra, and performance photography exhibition curated by Kanika Anand are among the highlights.


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