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Off to Jaipur – My agenda at this year’s Literary Festival!

January 18, 2012

This is the first time I am going to the Jaipur Literary Festival, touted as the greatest literary event in Asia and as one of the best in the world. I seriously doubted this claim earlier but every year as I followed it on Internet, I saw that many Nobel Prize winners came to the event and some other really good writers. Although there are some usual ubiquitous and irritating presences like that of Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, but I guess if you are to meet the likes of Richard Dawkins, V S Naipaul, Umberto Eco and Orhan Pamuk you have to bear the unnecessary addendum too.

This year my agenda is as follows. Though I will attend the other speeches in free time too, but this is what I have previously in mind:

Day 1 – 20 Jan

From 12:30 – 01:30

7. ‘The Disappointment of Obama’

David Remnick in conversation with Samanth Subramanian.

From 02:30 – 03:30

13. ‘The Arab Spring: A Winter’s View’

Kamin Mohammadi Navdeep Suri, Karima Khalil, Raja Shehadeh, Max Rodenbeck in conversation with Barkha Dutt

From 03:45 to 04:45

16. ‘Our Lady of Alice Bhatti’

Mohammed Hanif in conversation with Shoma Chaudhury



For the second day, the targets will be:


10 AM to 11 AM

30. ‘Creativity, Censorship and Dissent’

Siddhartha Gigoo, Tahmima Anam, Prasoon Joshi, Charu Nivedita, Cheran moderated by Shoma Chaudhury

Special attraction will be Siddhartah Gigoo with his book on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits.

1:15AM to 12:15 PM

33. ‘A Good Man in Africa’

Tim Butcher, Philip Gourevitch, Philip Marsden and Ilija Trojanow moderated by Taiye Selasi.

Will be great to meet this intrepid journalist who braved the killing fields of Sierra Leone twice. Have just come out fresh from reading his book, so it will be more exhilarating.


12:30PM to 01:30 PM

38. ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: A Decline of Violence in History’

Steven Pinker introduced by Barkha Dutt.

Will be marvelous tolisten to this great scientist, but the ignorant Barkha Dutt interveiwing him will be a downer.


02:30 PM to 03:30 PM

40. ‘In Defence of the Enlightenment’

A.C. Grayling, Steven Pinker introduced by Vijay Tankha.

Pinker again it is, and this time without the sour ingredient of Barkha Dutt! What a chance!

03:45 PM to 04:45 PM

44. ‘After Bin Laden’

Ayesha Jalal, Jason Burke, MJ Akbar, Max Rodenbeck, Mushirul Hasan moderated by Shoma Chaudhury.

I dropped Max Rodenbeck from my agenda this year, as it was too much JLF reading to do, but will be keeping a watch over him.


Day 3:


10:00AM to 11:00 AM

57. ‘The Superpowers of the 21st Century’

Geling Yan, Thant Myint-U, David Malone moderated by Shashi Tharoor.

One of the super highlights of the JLF 2012 for me. Listening to the great author Thant Myint-U. I have read both of his books of Burma and the international politics and love his straightforward, no-nonsense and no-ist style. Eagerly awaiting this.


11:15 AM to 12:15 PM

62. ‘The Question of Jerusalem’

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Sari Nusseibeh, moderated by Jonathan Shainin.

This is going to be a great day! First Thant Myint-U and then Montefiore? Being a student of the history of Communism, I have read both of his biographies of talin. Will be there with his books and perhaps a hope of a snap with him 🙂


12:30 PM to 01:30 PM

64. ‘Aung San Suu Kyi and the Future of Myanmar’

Peter Popham and Thant Myint – U, in conversation with David Malone.

Either this, or the parallel one with Mohammed Hanif.


02:30 PM to 03:30 PM

68. ‘Public and Private Portraits: The Biographer’s Art’

Joseph Lelyveld, Sugata Bose, Peter Popham, David Remnick, Simon Sebag Montefiore.

Its like two of your best dreams coming true at once. Remnick and Montefiore at one stage! Its the heaven of scholarship on Communism!

05:15 PM to 06:15 PM

81. ‘The Art of the Playwright’

Tom Stoppard and David Hare in conversation with Neelam Mansingh.

This will be a light one. Will try to divide time.


06:30 PM to 07:30 PM

84. ‘Shehar aur Sapna: The City as a Dream’

Mohammed Hanif, Aman Sethi, Meenal Baghel, Rabi Thapa Moderated by Ashok Vajpeyi.

Finally some exclusive time to Mohammed Hanif.


23 Jan: Day 4


10:00 AM to 11:00 AM

85. ‘Writing and Resistance’

Raja Shehadeh, Thant Myint-U, Iftikhar Gilani, moderated by Fatima Bhutto.

While Javed Akhtar will be irritating people in the other tent, I will be enjoying Thant Myint-U’s conversations.


02:30 PM to 03:30 PM

98. ‘Nothing to Declare: Straight lines and History’

Fakrul Alam , Mohammed Hanif , Rabi Thapa, Siddhartha Gigoo, moderated by Urvashi Butalia.

Hanif and Gigoo together. Will be interesting!

03:45 PM to 04:45 PM

103. ‘Stalin’

Simon Sebag Montefiore. On my favorite subject, one of my favorite authors!


05:15 PM to 06:15 PM

110. ‘The Magic of Reality’

Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward in coversation.

Dawkins finally!



24 Jan : Day 5 Last Day


11:15 Am to 12:15 PM

119. ‘Return of the King: A Preview

William Dalrymple in conversation with John Keay.

Keay, the champion on India and Dalrymple, the politically correct upstart.  Let’s see what happens!


12:30 PM to 01:30 PM

125. ‘The Selfish Gene’

Richard Dawkins.

Joy again!

02:30 PM to 03:30 PM

127. ‘Between the Lines, Beyond the Headlines’

Mark Tully and Kuldip Nayar, moderated by Nidhi Razdan.

Will be a great pleasure to meet Tully… Have been long a fan of his works.



This will be it! I will keep posting and after the event will come out with complete details.

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