The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Monday, 21 January 2013


(This write-up is about Salman Rushdie, the ‘four’ and a knotted follow-up of JLF-2012.)

Salman Rushdie, Amitava Kumar, Hari Kunzru, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi – these were the five names in the eye of the ‘Salman Rushdie and Satanic Verses’ storm last year during the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Now as the radical and politically motivated elements are once again out on the street with their demand of ‘who should attend and who should not’, the responsibility of these five becomes, even if not participating, to come and participate, if not as speaker, then even as a guest to give them the ‘missing’ fitting reply.

Salman Rushdie is in India during JLF-2013 to promote the movie based on ‘Midnight's Children’. Jeet Thayil is on the list of participants. So, the ‘two’ out of five are here. Three more are needed. Could that be a possibility?

Just an afterthought!

The way these ‘five’ either retracted or ran away after the threats from the Muslim clerics last year was demeaning to the core-essence of literature – conscience.

A sentient conscience is the foremost branding element of a creative person. Such a thinking soul spontaneously reacts on excesses that not only hurt the freedom of creativity but also endanger the larger atmosphere of freedom of expression. How to express the protest is individual and varies but what matters is it must be ‘expressed’.

And that wasn’t done last year.

When it was politically motivated Salman Rushdie bashing last year, Salman Rushdie had to attend the event to defend his freedom of expression (that not only included tweeting). There was no official denial. He had to be there. He did not have to tweet his protest. He had to live it. He didn’t.

When the conscience of the ‘four’, who read passage from the ‘Satanic Verses’ protesting the ‘Salman Rushdie row’, pulled them to do so, they had to walk the talk by refusing to leave the event. It doesn’t matter if they left on their own or under pressure of the event-organizers.

When the event organizers had decided to invite Salman Rushdie promoting him as the ‘main draw’ of the event, they had to stand by the ‘four’ persuading them not to leave (if they didn’t pressurise them to leave).

And by doing that, they compromised the identity of the sentient conscience that is so natural to any creative activity. 

The spectre of commercial leverage has killed the ‘literary’ soul of the Jaipur Literature Festival. It is more of a PR-led high-profile public event where chaos and mismanagement at micro level prevails and it happens at the cost of handsome returns at the macro level.

The lure of big gains can pollute anyone. A global brand recognition in just five years has made the event a hot cash machine.

Now the priority of the organizers, it seems, is to manage the machine and to multiply the returns at any cost. Literature has been pushed to the periphery of the event where big names gather before an overcrowded audience and an overzealous media.

It is foolhardy from them to expect they would think anything of this sort of inviting Salman Rushdie and the ‘four’ to legitimately protest the stupidity of the radical elements again.  

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -