Cakes are good, but the icing almost always makes them better as it did today. The last session was super amazing and an extreme value add, and that also when the main venue was washed out. The back-up venue was geared up to take it all and what a show it was. While I am typing this, I am actually clapping for everyone who made this show happen.
Let me ensure that I don’t miss any points and let me cover them in bullets.
- The last session was – Debate: “Democracy is the worst from of government, except for all the rest”
- The venue was tight, spirits were free and what a success it was despite the venue and circumstances being what they were.
- Sanjoy, amongst all this can still manage humour, everyone in the hall giggled when he said that we would be discussing democracy and not politics or elections.
- Everyone was so charged that each panelist was welcomed with a loud applause, and of course all panelists didn’t command the same degree of applause. Murli Manohar Joshi and Shazia Ilmi got roaring reception.
- A seven-member strong panel looked a bit too much to be covered in a show planned for only 60 minutes, but Sanjoy knew how to make everyone dance only within their time slot.
- Indrajit Hazra cautioned everyone on democracy, in his words “democracy is not a perfect spouse.”
- Kazi Anis Ahmed from Bangladesh was very candid in his sharing, he said democracy is a system for which people give their lives, unlike other forms of governance which take lives. People compare India and China and compare their GDP and say China is more developed, but can a show like this happen in China? Can anyone discuss in China the disadvantages of single-party rule?
- Lily Wangchuk from Bhutan had quite a few interesting observations. It was interesting to note that Bhutan got “Democracy as a gift from their King”. Lily mentioned that no democracy is perfect – the degree of perfection varies on the kind of leaders and their own closeness or distance from perfection. Bhutan sees democracy as their sacred gift and it is strengthening all the pillars of democracy as it is moving along.
- I was hearing Shazia Ilmi for the first time – she is a great orator and displayed excellent language skills in English, Hindi and Urdu. She is witty and can be quite a racket, if it comes to it. She was the first one to speak in Hindi and English and switch over languages seamlessly. She said that the Hindi word Rajniti is made of two words Raj and Niti, “Raj” of course means to rule and “niti” means policies, as per her “niti” is done and forgotten and it is only Raj which has been in play in India now. Connecting her talk with what all has been going on in Delhi, she said democracy gives you a right to protest and that right is also their with the CM of the state.
- Pavan Verma sounded apolitical to a great degree, his statements were fun. I liked his take on “if you chip democracy on one end it gets chipped off at the other end too.” As per Pavan there is need for people to put their lives at stake to protect democracy. Pavan is an old Jaipur Literature Festival favourite and his “shair-o-shairi” was much appreciated. The best take from his talk was, if democracy is allowed to slip, then nations can be hijacked. He was awesome and his session management was excellent.
- I have always had a general dislike for Murli Manohar Joshi Ji and my dislike became “permanent” when he goofed up his speech at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Today that “permanent” dislike was washed away. The minute he came, some Narendra Modi supporters shouted “Narendra Modi Zindabad, Zindabad,” Joshi ji was quick and he replied back “yahan koi zindabad / murdabad nahin hai – yahan sirf Democracy Zindabad hai. ” That was a great instinctive comment by him, though the skeptic in me wonders whether he would have reacted in the same manner if someone had said Murli Manohar Joshi Zindabad. Joshi ji made a great comment that when during “Emergency” democracy was lost, its loss was fought and it was won back. Joshi ji stated that to say that democracy is an import to India won’t be totally correct. he was the view that sabha and samiti form of democracy always existed in India. Democracy is a celebration of the human mind and gives you the power to change.
- The Q & A session brought some more pointers towards democracy and its importance to India. Interrogation is required for true democracy, we suffer because we don’t question too much. MM Joshi ji tried to dilute the issue of political parties to be brought under the preview of RTI but supported the need for financial transparency from all political parties.
The Jaipur Literature Festival opened with a performance of Nathulal Solanki and band and theirs was the performance which declared the Jaipur Literature Festival closed. What a splendid performance. Cheers!
I will be back on January 21, 2015 and would love covering Jaipur Literature Festival once again.