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By Arjun Bhatia, Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger

Peter Bergen is one of the world’s greatest experts on Osama bin Laden. The acclaimed journalist produced bin Laden’s first television interview in 1997, in which the latter declared war against the United States to a Western audience for the first time. Since 9/11, the CNN national security analyst has authored or edited seven books related to the inner world of bin Laden, the War on Terror, and jihadist terrorism. In a conversation with Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger Arjun Bhatia, Bergen shared his knowledge and thoughts on bin Laden’s plans, Islamophobia and changing political landscapes.

How had bin Laden expected the US to respond to 9/11? What was his vision?

His analysis was completely wrong. He thought the United States was a paper tiger, and that we would pull out of the Middle East. And then the rich Saudi regime and Egyptian regime would fall without American support. Instead, the US is more involved in the Middle East than it has ever been in its history. Huge bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar. Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia. His analysis was crazy. No country is going to pull out… If 3,000 people are killed in Delhi tomorrow, the government would respond, not by doing nothing, but by doing something.

Settling in the Abbottabad compound confined bin Laden and put a strain on his channels of communication. Had he considered moving to some other place?

At one point he considered moving to Yemen. But there were a lot of risks in going there from Afghanistan. He contemplated moving there in 1997-98. But how do you get there when you are already very wanted?

Pakistan-US relations have worsened over the last decade. Do you see US-India and China-Pakistan power blocks emerging, possibly resulting in a war?

Well that’s what’s happening (emergence of power blocks). Obama never visited Pakistan. He visited India twice. India and the United States have a close relationship. These are the blocks that are forming. But hopefully it will not lead to a war.

What were the US government’s thoughts on the Indian Airlines IC-814 hijack in 1999?

I was there reporting on ground in Kandahar. This thing happened between Christmas and New Year’s. It was also Ramadan. I was among the maybe 50 Americans of any kind in the whole country. Very few people were covering it. It was obviously a big story in India. But this was Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. It was very hard to get any story out. It’s not that people chose not to react. They didn’t react because the news came out very slowly.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while working in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

Working in Afghanistan was difficult because the Taliban had no concept of journalism. Their economy barely functioned. There were all sorts of logistical problems. They were suspicious of Westerners. It was a very difficult place to operate. Pakistan was relatively easy, particularly if you were a foreign journalist. If you were a Pakistani journalist, it was very hard, because the Taliban could attack you. Elements of the state could attack you. You live there, you can’t get away. Obviously, Daniel Pearl, the American journalist, was killed by Al Qaeda. You can only operate in a certain way as a foreigner, a Westerner.

Did you find yourself in life-threatening situations very often? Is it as dangerous as it is commonly perceived to be?

No… I think it has become more dangerous since Daniel Pearl’s death in 2002. It’s clear that reporting on these groups was very dangerous, in a way it hadn’t been before. The rules have changed. Of course, reporting on ISIS is very very dangerous. It’s become much more dangerous for journalists since 9/11. Journalists used to be regarded as non-combatants. But now these jihadist groups will take anybody.

Do you feel that the Western media – and for that matter, even the Indian media – is fuelling Islamophobia?

Well, Islamophobia certainly doesn’t help. I don’t think the media is doing that. Sometimes our political leaders are doing that, with their statements, and sometimes their policies. If people feel they are under a siege, they will often look for some ideology that will help them get out of that situation. So yes, Islamophobia is very unhealthy.

So why give more power to the very thing you are there to fight?

Because people don’t behave in rational ways. If they did, we would be living in a perfect world, ruled by reason. But we live in a very emotional world, mostly ruled by incompetence, suspicion, and limited information.

Where do you see the situation with terrorist acts and violence in the Middle East going in 10 years?

I think the problem isn’t going away. Because of the sectarian civil war in the Middle East between Shias and Sunnis, that has consumed Syria, Iraq, Yemen. The collapse of Arab governments in countries like Libya and Yemen. The collapse of Arab economies in these countries. The wave of Muslim immigration into Europe, where they are not really accepted. These factors contribute to people joining militant groups in Europe and in the Middle East. And they have legitimate grievances. I am not saying it’s legitimate to join these groups. But they do have grievances. Some will engage in conventional politics. But some of them are going to join these groups.

Talking of Muslim immigration in Europe, do you see a lot more European countries electing fascist leaders in the next few years?

We are already seeing that. Poland and Hungary have proto-fascist leaders. These parties used to be very marginal in Europe. But now, in France, Marine Le Pen’s National Front is an important player. In Austria, we saw one of these politicians do very well. In Germany, we saw one of the ultra-nationalist groups has done pretty well in the last elections. That’s the future unfortunately.

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Jaipur Literature Festival Interview Series

 

By Arjun Bhatia, Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger

The Franco- Moroccan writer began her career by studying political science and media at Sciences Po, Paris. She worked briefly as a journalist for the newspaper, Jeune Afrique. In 2014, she published her first novel Dans le Jardin de l’Ogre, which was followed by the psychological thriller Chanson Douce, and Lullaby. Chanson Douce became an international bestseller with over a million copies sold and translated into 17 languages. It was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 2016. Slimani has since been appointed as the Francophone Affairs Minister to promote French language and culture by President Macron. She is a vociferous voice for gender equality and has broken many stereotypes, including the commonly held view that Arab writers should stick to writing about Islam and camels.

At the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, the best-selling novelist offered some candid insights into her life and global issues.

How was the initial period when you moved to study at Sciences Po, Paris from Morocco?

That is quite a tricky question: You know when I was at Sciences Po, I had not quite immersed myself in the university. I did not have many friends and I was not a part of any groups – it was not a very good time for me personally because I had family issues. I felt a distance between the university and me but in retrospect professionally, it gave me quite a lot of exposure. It shaped my point of view about various global issues. I interacted with people from all over the world and it was a very interesting period in my life.

What do you think about the French colonization of African countries?

I think that I belong to a generation that believes that colonization is just history and it is not the reality now.  Of course, my parents told me about how it was to live in a colonized country and when I was younger, I felt angry about it, but then I thought we should now look at the future. I believe it is time for us to not blame it on the past, focus on taking responsibility and do something for the country.

Climate change is a global issue and France has taken the lead in making policies to combat it. What do you think about this issue and did you discuss this with President Macron?

The conversation with President Macron mostly encompassed literature. However, about climate change, I am sad because my children love nature like most children around the world, but most of it will be destroyed by the time they become adults. I come from a developing country and in order to develop it is a question that they will have to face. It is a tricky question but it will affect all of us and therefore, needs appropriate measures.

You have raised your voice for gender equality, what is feminism for you?

For me, feminism has a simple definition; feminism is a fight for women to be equal to men. It is the idea that you take consciousness of the fact that in the world, women have the same duties as men but they do not have the same rights. Women do not have the same consideration, they don’t have the same salaries, the same access to essential services. Basically, they don’t have the same life, so voila, the fight for equality is feminism for me.  

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Bee Rowlatt, John Freeman, Pinky Anand, Ruchira Gupta, Sandip Roy, and Vinod Dua moderated by Namita Bhandare

By Akunth, Medhavi Dhyani, and Bhavika Bhuwalka, Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Bloggers

When the #MeToo movement took the world by storm last year, there was an eruption of voices from across the world: many came to support it, and many came to critique it. #MeToo effectively brought to public attention the severity and common nature of sexual harassment that permeates the fabric of our society. It was in the wake of this burning issue that the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival chose the subject for its closing debate.

Moderator Namita Bhandare opened the discussion by speaking of how the movement has cut across borders, exposing sexual harassment as a specific yet universal issue. It has renewed conversation about sexual violence, and empowered enraged women all over the world to demand a “new script,” since the older system of legal machinery has failed them.

Journalist and activist Ruchira Gupta expressed her shock at the framing of the debate’s titular question. Alluding to caste-specific sexual violence, sexual harassment cases against top politicians, and judicial inadequacy in dealing with such cases, she said that men have it “systemically easy,” and that impunity can only be delegitimized through political acts like the #MeToo movement. Addressing the complexity of sexual violence, she noted that it can also be perpetrated through the idea of “love,” as in the case of domestic violence.

Lawyer Pinky Anand brought in the legal dimensions and limitations in the pursuit of justice for sexual harassment victims. The benefit of the doubt, according to the law, is in favour of the accused, and in most cases, justice is either delayed or miscarried. Instancing the Farooqui case, she pointed out that this inadequacy has necessitated the growth of social and civil activism in recent times, as an increasing number of women have spoken out about violence meted out against them.

Journalist Sandip Roy talked about how institutionalised patriarchy and sexism delivers to an “old boys’ club.” He pointed out the insufficiency of laws like the Vishakha Guidelines in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, because the process relies too much on individual action when it is actually a socio-political concern: “Our silence plays into a toxic work culture.”

Writer-journalist Bee Rowlatt followed, who hailed the #MeToo movement as a “collective outcry against male sexual violence.” The overwhelming evidence points to men as predominantly the perpetrators. A simple solution, she suggested, is for men to listen to and understand women. To resounding applause, Rowlatt concluded by saying, “If you really want to prove that men have it hard, you have to sit down, be quiet and lose this debate.”

Eminent journalist Vinod Dua agreed that men indeed do have it too easy. They are raised with a sense of entitlement, and controversial statements like “boys make mistakes” or “one minor rape” give them the power to get away with being sexual violence perpetrators. In small towns, outside elite gatherings, men have been brought up with notions of being all-powerful, influenced by pop culture and family values.

While being against sexual harassment, writer and journalist Manu Joseph took a different standpoint. He said that due to certain “horrific instances,” there are things colleagues can’t say to each other anymore, having to be extremely politically correct: “There is disorder in the male-female relationship.”

This was followed by the closing statements. Gupta said that even if only a minority of men decide to abuse the power they have been bestowed with, it becomes problematic for the whole society. She asserted that someone “touching your cheek, pulling your bra strap, and poking your waist” is “rape culture” and should be called out for what it is.

Making a bold statement, Roy said that real change will come when a woman is able to walk into a police station to register an FIR on sexual harassment charge, and not be asked what she was drinking or wearing: “Change will come when a woman will get into an autorickshaw and not automatically put up her bag as a barricade.”

The audience ultimately attested through the vote that men certainly do have it easy. However, Bee called out the immense polarization around the issue, and ended the closing debate of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival with a quote from Mary Wollstonecraft: “I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.”

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Michael Ondaatje in conversation with Chandrahas Choudhury

By Archita Mittra, Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger

Sri Lankan-born Canadian author, editor and filmmaker Michael Ondaatje needs little introduction. Yet despite being one of the most celebrated writers of contemporary times, the Man Booker Prize winner still feels that he is one of those “doubtful” writers, who begin their novels without any plan, structure or foreknowledge of their characters.

The author of Anil’s Ghost revealed that all his books “begin in a dark room, with an image.” The image of an unnamed patient talking to an unnamed nurse gave birth to his most famous work The English Patient. Often, he has no idea what his characters look like. He stated that his “books are a gradual party” and that the image is the “doorway into the story.” It is only after continuous rewriting and polishing of his manuscript, that he gets an idea of what his novel actually looks like.

In fact, Ondaatje confessed that he enjoyed the art of editing his work much more than writing the first draft. He is fascinated by the “voice” of his characters and how it develops over the course of the novel. For him, good editing amounts to a “question of peace.” After completing the first draft, he rewrites the story several times by hand, each time “taking out” scenes that “did not interest” or “bored” him as a reader.

However he stated that he does not “recommend” his writing and editing process to anyone.  Usually he writes the first four or five drafts by hand, before sending it to the typist. As no one else can read his handwriting, he follows a tedious process of reading out his text complete with all the punctuation, to the tape recorder. This is later transcribed by the typist – a process that may take one or two months. After the typed manuscript is ready, he goes through it and makes corrections manually. He said, “I have to work on the page to edit.”

Moreover, while writing his novel, he usually does not read other books, as he is “fearful of influences and of losing his point-of-view.” In fact, he does not tell anyone, even his close family members, when he is writing a novel. So for the course of five years, or whatever duration it takes for him to finish a piece, he retreats into being “that weird guy upstairs.”

Ondaatje does a lot of “active research” into the professions of his characters, in order to “discover” their world. Unlike other writers who research first and write later, Ondaatje prefers to do both simultaneously. As a former poet who later turned to writing novels, Ondaatje finds the medium of fiction to be inclusive and liberating. Fiction can incorporate all other genres and “forms of writing” like poetry and non-fiction into itself, and is therefore more “entertaining” as it can contain every kind of story in it. He poetically distinguishes between the two genres by referring to the novel as “theatre,” where every element including lights and set design must be carefully controlled, and to poetry as “whisperings”.

Ondaatje, who is also fascinated by film-making and editing cinema, added, “I want to learn but not steal from all the other arts.” Perhaps that is why no two Ondaatje novels are alike. His oeuvre includes several poetry collections, novels, plays, essays, edited anthologies, literary criticism and even films. During the session, the author read an excerpt from Anil’s Ghost and graciously answered questions from the audience. The talk delighted fans and aspiring writers alike, discussing the intricacies of fiction, his writing rituals and creative process with all the humility of a genuine master.

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Jeffrey Gettleman, Nick Perry, Praveen Swami and Shelley Thakral in conversation with Salil Tripathi

By Ishan Kawley, Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger

The Rohingya refugee crisis is one of the largest humanitarian crises of the 21st century. The Rohingya people are a Muslim minority group residing in the western state of Rakhine, Myanmar. Since the Myanmar government does not identify them as an ethnic group, the Rohingya people lack legal status, and so are regarded as refugees by Bangladesh. As of 22nd October 2017, more than 600,000 refugees from Myanmar had crossed the border into Bangladesh.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jeffrey Gettleman, narrated a harrowing incident of the atrocities committed against the Rohingya. During his stint in Myanmar, he met a 20-year-old Rohingya woman who had scars on her face. She belonged to a village where there was a conflict between Myanmar Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslims. She and her family lived under constant fear of the Myanmar army. One day the army descended on her village and burnt all the houses of the Muslims. They threw the woman’s baby in the fire and killed her mother and sister. They then raped her till she lost consciousness. Gettleman observed that such horrendous atrocities are the norm in crisis-tricken Myanmar today, adding that as a journalist, he is in the “empathy-generation business” and by sensitizing people to such terrors, there is hope for change.

Contradicting Gettleman, journalist Praveen Swami, suggested that too much empathy-evoking journalism blurs people’s ability to engage in the politics of the situation, or allow for two sides to every story. However, all the panel agreed that the Myanmar army’s reaction was “wrong and disproportionate.”

Communications Officer at the Wold Food Programme, who has worked extensively in the crisis-stricken regions of Myanmar and Bangladesh, Shelley Thakral, said that getting food, shelter and medicine for refugees is extremely difficult. But what worries her the most is that children born in refugee camps, will be born without citizenship and may well go on to become second generation refugees.

Recently, both governments engaged in dialogue to discuss the possibility of repatriating the refugees. Citing the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, journalist Salil Tripathi stated that you cannot send back a person to their country of origin if they have well-grounded fear of persecution. Extending Tripathi’s argument, journalist Nick Perry said that repatriation was almost impossible owing to the sheer logistics associated with it. Even if arrangements was made legally, it would be hard to imagine why anyone who has watched his house burn to cinders and family murdered would voluntarily return to the site of that brutality.

The panel discussed the role of Nobel laureate and first incumbent state counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi. She was heralded as the champion of change and an advocate of peace but her choice to not intervene in the crisis has shocked everyone in international circles. Talking about steps she could take to deal with the issue, Perry said, “She has a number of options at her disposal. She has a parliamentary majority to apply pressure.” State-controlled media in Myanmar – over which Suu Kyi has some influence – has been instrumental in fermenting ethnic hatred against the Rohingyas, to the extent of calling them “detestable human fleas” in the state media. Suu Kyi controls the Foreign Office and she must involve the international community and observers. Swami reflected, “Her story holds out a lesson that a political leader should not be confused with a saint.”

As the discussion approached it conclusion, it was evident that the solution to the refugee crisis will not be a quick one. The grim reality of the situation was captured when Tripathi recounted his interaction with a 20-year-old man who had crossed the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh, who told him: “You keep a bird in a cage for 20 years and he will die. I have moved from one cage to another.”

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Matt Frei, Odd Harald Hauge, Pavan K. Varma, Ruchira Gupta, and Sujatha Gidla in conversation with Seema Sirohi

By Bhavika Bhuwalka, Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger

According to senior journalist Seema Sirohi, the definition of ‘burning issue’ changes with each individual, and it may not or may not be reflected by what the 9 O’Clock news tells us. The after-effects of globalization, inequality, politics of hate, rise of racism in America and rise of communalism in India are just some of the burning issues that are not getting enough news coverage. Backing up her argument, she said, “Media is now ranked as the least trusted institution globally, due to the proliferation of fake news, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, with the US seeing a 37% trust drop.”

On the other hand, Odd Harald Hauge, adventurer and former Norway journalist, argued that one could in fact pinpoint the most burning issue of our age: climate change. He observed that despite being the most important, it was also the most understated issue of our times, yet the solutions were relatively simple, such as bicycling to buy groceries: “It’s lack of political will. If the consequences of something are high, so is the probability of it happening.”

According to Indian politician and writer-diplomat Pavan K. Varma, the core problem is the considerable and verifiable erosion of quality in the 9 O’Clock news debates. He said that prime time had led to the dumbing down of debates, as opposed to intellectual insights and discussion, which had previously been the tradition: “Prime time is interested in breaking news, something which is momentary and superficial.”

Matt Frei, presenter at Channel 4 News and its current Europe Editor, agreed that “the 9 O’Clock news is finished.” He said people now consume news that interests them and not necessarily what is important. Touting this as an era of “great disruption,” he pointed out that most news today comes from the internet, which might empower people in one way, but in another, it might “reinforce your prejudices.”

Feminist campaigner and writer Ruchira Gupta noted how fake news travels the fastest through WhatsApp, which also leads to information overload. Gupta, who has reported on the brothels of India, expressed her disappointment in how prime time doesn’t cover women who are “marginalized, destitute and forced into prostitution… Officials sitting in Delhi don’t even know them, let alone create policies for them.”

Concluding the session, New York-based author of the famous Ants Among Elephants, Sujatha Gidla, said that the media will always be biased. Noting that “the 9 O’Clock news is normalizing the growing inequality in India,” she requested news organizations to “cover real issues faced by an average Indian.”

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Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Chika Unigwe and Nadifa Mohammed introduced by Abeer Y. Hoque

By Hemal Thakker, Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger

Africa is portrayed around the world as a continent plagued by the classical problems of developmental economics: poverty, hunger and unemployment. The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival invited four upcoming African writers, who have written stories that break these stereotypes and provide insights about life in African countries.

Nigerian born Bangladeshi-American writer Abeer Y. Hoque opened the session by asking the panelists to describe the inspiration behind their respective books. Nigerian novelist Chika Unigwe read excerpts from her novel On Black Sisters Streets, which is about four women who travel from Nigeria to Brussels and auction themselves to clients. “I talk about women in my book, because migration is gendered in Nigeria; men do not immigrate to make a living.” She described her book as a story about the women who “navigate their way to making a living and to the extent they succeed and fail.”

Unigwe reflected on her time in the red-light areas of Antwerp where she was researching sex workers from Nigeria for the novel: “I think writing helps in building a sense of empathy. I could actually feel how it would feel if you are paraded naked and people are thinking whether to buy you or not.” She got emotional when talking about the agony of the sex workers: “You are actually hoping to be bought because you do not want to be a refugee in a country where you cannot take care of yourself. How sad is that?”

After reading excerpts from his book

Season of Crimson Blossoms is a novel that breaks conservative stereotypes about women, set in Nigeria. Author and winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim believes that stereotypes can become the basis for a narrative to “enlighten” people. He commented, “I think the characters chose me to tell their stories. Readers from Northern Nigeria told me that the stories of women I projected were close to reality.”

Somali-British writer Nadifa Mohammed spoke about her book The Orchard of Lost Souls, which offers insight into Somalia’s history, and explores conflicts in interpersonal relationships: “I believe that the measure of a great society is how they treat their women and disabled people.” She wanted to write this book because most literature about Somalia is written by foreign journalists: “Somalia has been portrayed as an archetype of a failed state, but I wanted to tell the story of the people who have stayed back: the soldiers, old women and people who could not escape the horrors of the war.”

Unigwe concluded on a hopeful note, pointing out that Nigeria had given the world the legendary Man Booker International Prize-winning novelist Chinua Achebe: “I think the evolution of African literature has been great. Now commercial publishers in Europe have started publishing our works and you can find them in bookstores easily.” She added that African publishers have also emerged, and were starting to publish works by African authors.

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Jyoti Kiran, Manvendra Singh, Pavan K. Varma and Sachin Pilot in conversation with Kota Neelima

By Medhavi Dhyani, Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger

A heated and provocative debate unfolded on the last day of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, as four distinguished politicians and political writers discussed the questions most pertinent to democracy in India. Advocates of diverse perspectives across the political spectrum of India each sought to address these questions according to their sensibilities.

Former IFS officer and MP Pavan K. Varma described India as “an ancient civilisation and a young republic.” He lamented the diminishment of dialogue – the cornerstone of any democracy – in today’s India, and condemned confined ideas of nationalism and issues of inequality have haunted India through the ages. Varma urged for socio-economic dividends to better reach the margins through democratic process. Without this, he argued there would continue to be a distinction between the “inheritors of democracy” and the “sufferers of democracy”.

Economist Jyoti Kiran criticised Varma’s “pessimistic idea of democracy,” arguing that Indian democracy was actually decentralised. She cited the example of women in Rajasthan, saying that it is people at the grassroots who are the enactment and translation of “the dance of democracy.”

MLA Manvendra Singh agreed, observing the strength of the grassroots-level governing bodies, especially the panchayats, which in his opinion are the most democratic in their operation. However the disconnect people in smaller towns feel from larger public discussion has also created a disquiet between the idea of democracy and the state. Varma responded that the “seeds of undemocratic processes are unaccountable money and politics,” and panchayat elections are not exempt. All political parties, in his view, strive to protect their personal interests. He bemoaned a lack of law and order, which he claimed has reduced politics to a level of juvenility.

In Congressman Sachin Pilot’s view, no other system of government except democracy – despite its own insufficiencies – could have sailed the Indian nation through its history of tumult. He stated that the spirit of democracy is “discussion and disagreement,” which does not have to be acrimonious: what is integral is mutual respect despite difference. For him, politicians themselves must change politics from within. Pilot agreed with Varma that they must be made more accountable, adding that it was the responsibility of party leadership to make sure it happens. Whilst commending the journey of Indian democracy, he also stressed the need for its improvement and growth.

On the pertinent issue of unemployment, Varma underlined the need for investment in the public education system and skill-training programmes to make people “employable.” Pilot stated that agricultural workers should be educated and moved to the manufacturing sectors. Singh disagreed, arguing that agriculture is an indispensible and under-acknowledged sector. Kiran advocated the fusion of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, saying that the government should be “a facilitator and not a provider.”

Varma stated that the parties’ “divide and rule” politics was a product of their need to retain power: it is “deliberate design” rather than coincidence that people are divided on the basis of religion, caste, and community. Unless citizens themselves become conscious of this, and demand the delivery of the secular dividends promised, no real change will come. Pilot added that voters’ electoral validation played a pivotal role in the sustenance of state structures.

The fiery discussion ended with even more questions than it began with, representing the true spirit of democracy itself.

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By- Aditya Narayan, Officially Blogger Jaipur Literature Festival

भारत की राजभाषा, आधिकारिक भाषा और लोक भाषा के अंतर्द्वंद एवं अंतरसंबंधों को लेकर आज़ादी के बाद से ही तमाम बहस संसद के अन्दर तथा बाहर होते रहे हैं| संविधान की आठवीं अनुसूची में निहित 22 भाषाओँ के अतिरिक्त अभी भी समय समय पर विभिन्न लोकभाषाओं को इसके आठवी अनुसूची के अंतर्गत लाने कि मांग उठती रहती है| तमाम बुद्धिजीवियों का इस मुद्दे के पक्ष और विपक्ष में अपने अपने विचार हैं पर भारत की विभिन्न लोकभाषाओं को लेकर जो समस्या हमारे सामने है वो है युवाओं का अपनी लोकभाषा प्रति घटता चलन| ‘राजस्थानी’ भारत में एक बड़ी जनसँख्या द्वारा प्रयोग में ली जाने वाली लोकभाषा है और 16वीं शताब्दी में ये भारत कि सबसे समृद्ध भाषा मानी जाती थी| राजस्थानी में पद्य लिखने की पम्परा बहुत पुरानी है| और पारम्परिक तौर से इसे लयबद्ध तरीके से लिखा जाता था पर कालांतर में धीरे-धीरे इसमें आधुनिक शब्दों का भी प्रयोग शुरू हुआ जिससे इसके स्वरुप में भी काफी अंतर आया है| कविता आपके दिल को छू लेती पर वहीँ कहानी आपके दिल को चीरते हुए निकल जाती है और बहुत दिनों तक आप उसके साथ रह जाते हैं| ‘राजस्थानी’ लोकभाषा के इन्ही पहलुओं, आकर्षण और समस्याओं को समर्पित रहा ज़ी जयपुर लिटरेचर फेस्टिवल का आखिरी दिन|

‘राजस्थानी’ लोकभाषा पर बात करते हुए राज्य साहित्य अकादमी अवार्ड विजेता बुलाकी शर्मा ने अपनी किताब ‘लहसुनिया’ का जिक्र करते हुए कहा कि कैसे हमारे लोक परंपरा में माँ बेटे के मधुर संबंधों एवं प्यार को उन्होंने इस किताब में दर्शाया है| व्यंग और हास्य विधा कि तुलना करते हुए बुलाकी ने कहा कि ‘हास्य के मुकाबले व्यंग कहीं ज्यादा मुश्किल कला है| व्यंग में आपकी सम्वेंदना सिझंती है और इसीलिए व्यंग पाठकों को चुभती भी है’| युवाओं और बाल कहानियों पर अपना मंतव्य जाहिर करते हुए बुलाकी ने कहा कि ‘आज के लेखकों को युवाओं के युवा बनकर तथा बच्चों के लिए बच्चा बनकर लिखने की जरुरत है| खुद का उदाहरण लेते हुए बुलाकी ने कहा कि वो कोई भी बाल कहानी लिखने के बाद अपने नाती-पोतों को उसे सुनाते हैं और अगर उन्हें ये कहानियां पसंद आती है तो फिर किसी समीक्षक कि टिपण्णी उनके लिए मायने नहीं रखती हैं’|

राजस्थान विश्वविद्यालय में कार्यरत और राजस्थान राज्य साहित्य अवार्ड विजेता अभिमन्यु सिंह आरहा राजस्थानी लोकभाषा के प्रति उदासीनता पर दुःख जताते हुए कहा कि ‘जहाँ विदेश में रह रहे सिन्धी या बीकानेरी मिलाने पर राजस्थानी में बात करते है वहीँ हम राजस्थान में रह कर भी यहाँ की लोकभाषा में बात नहीं करते है और इससे कहीं ना कहीं राजस्थानी भाषा धीरे धीरे मरने लगी है’| 1200 वर्षों से चले आ रहे राजस्थानी लोकभाषा के स्वर्णिम इतिहास को बताते हुए अभिमन्यु ने कहा कि रविन्द्र नाथ के अनुसार वीर रस में जैसा योगदान और दर्शाने की विधा राजस्थानी ने दिखाई है वैसी भारत की किसी भाषा ने नहीं दिखाई है|लोक भाषा के प्रति अपनी प्रेम को बताते हुए कमला गोयनका अवार्ड विजेता रीना मिनारिया ने कहा कि राजस्थानी उनके हर शब्द में दिखता है और युवाओं को फिर उन गाँवों को याद दिलाने कि जरुरत है जो उनकी जड़ है|

भारतीय संविधान ने तमाम आधार और नियमों के अनुसार आठवीं अनुसूची का गठन किया है और आने वाले दिनों में उसके अनुसार लोकभाषाओँ को उसमे जगह मिलेगी भी, पर हमारा एकमात्र उद्देश्य कभी भी नहीं इस अनुसूची में आना नहीं होना चाहिए बल्कि हमरा उद्देश्य हमेशा से इन लोकभाषाओं के विकास पर होना चाहिए क्युकी आठवी अनुसूची में आने का आखिर मतलब ही क्या होगा अगर उसे बोलने वाला कोई नहीं होगा|

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By Urmila Gupta, Official Zee Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger

ज़ी जयपुर साहित्योत्सव के पांचवें दिन ‘राजस्थान बदलते माहौल में मीडिया’ सत्र में बदलते माहौल और उसके मीडिया पर पड़ते प्रभाव पर चर्चा हुई| ये बदलाव समाज की वजह से मीडिया में आया है या मीडिया ने समाज को बदलने में कोई भूमिका निभाई है? मीडिया की कई वरिष्ठ हस्तियों ने इसमें भाग लिया|

सत्र का सञ्चालन करते हुए राजेंद्र बोरा ने भूमिका रखी की कि मीडिया का रूप प्रिंट से लेकर डिजिटल और अब सोशल मीडिया तक पहुँच गया है| मीडिया के स्वरुप में ही मानो अमूलचूल परिवर्तन हुआ है| “आज की तारीख में जिसके हाथ में मोबाइल फ़ोन है, वो ही जर्नलिस्ट है|”

ऐसे में प्रिंट मीडिया और इलेक्ट्रोनिक मीडिया खुद को कहाँ पाता है?

‘भास्कर’ के संपादक एल.पी पन्त ने कहा, “सबसे बड़ी समस्या है कि आज के समय में पत्रकारों से ज्यादा सूचनाएँ पाठकों के पास हैं| ये हमारी विडंबना ही है| फिर भी प्रिंट का एक अपना ही स्तर है| लेकिन एक पत्रकार के तौर पर आपके भीतर बेचैनी तब होती है, जब एक फिल्म के लिए पूरी व्यवस्था ताक पर रख दी जाती है| मेरे 20 रिपोर्टर 20 लाख मोबाइल से मुकाबला कैसे कर सकते हैं? लेकिन इस पर यही कह सकते हैं, जो तूफानों में पलते हैं, वो ही दुनिया बदलते हैं|”

सही मायनों में जर्नालिस्म के सामने सबसे बड़ी चुनौती मौलिकता की है|  

विनोद भारद्वाज “ख़बरें अब अपने ढंग से लिखी जाने लगी हैं| एक समय में एडिटोरियल अखबार की रणनीति को बयां करता था| लेकिन अब उसे शायद कोई पढ़ ही नहीं रहा है| बदलाव तकनीक के स्तर पर ही दिखता है, विचार स्तर पर तो लग रहा है, हम और पीछे जा रहे हैं|”

यश गोयल “1978 में संचार के साधन कम होते थे| वो खबर 2-3 दिन में छापकर आती थी| लेकिन आज की स्पीड देखिये| राजस्थान में पिछले पैंतीस सालों में बहुत बदलाव आया है| आज साइंस जर्नलिज्म बैक सीट पर आ गया है| क्राइम स्टोरी के सामने उसको गौण कर दिया जाता है|”   

फाल्गुनी बंसल, “राजनीती से इतर भी ख़बरें होती हैं, लेकिन उन ख़बरों को कोई छापता नहीं है, तो वो कहाँ जायेंगे| इसलिए जरूरत हुई सोशल मीडिया की| और मैं कहना चाहूंगी की आज हर बड़े अख़बार का एक डिजिटल एडिशन भी है| इसका मतलब हर कोई अपने स्टेट से बाहर भी पाठकों तक अपनी बात पहुँचाना चाहते हैं| टेलीविजन, प्रिंट करने के बाद अब मैं सोशल मीडिया के लिए काम करती हूँ, इसका मुख्य कारण रचनात्मक आजादी है|”

लेकिन मीडिया का रूप भले ही कितना ही क्यों न बदलता रहे, लेकिन आज भी सबसे बड़ी जिम्मेदारी प्रिंट मीडिया के पत्रकार की है| क्योंकि लिखे हुए शब्द कभी मिटते नहीं हैं| अक्सर कहा जाता है कि दिन भर में हम सारी ख़बरें तो देख ही लेते हैं, तो अख़बार क्यों पढ़ें?

पर सही मायनों में अखबार आपकी दिन भर की पढ़ी हुई ख़बरों का संशोधित और सत्यापित संस्करण है|

इस संदर्भ में ये भी ध्यान रखना चाहिए कि ‘खबर’ और ‘विचार’ दो अलग चीजें हैं| और सोशल मीडिया पर ज्यादातर जो आता है वो विचार हैं| वहां सबको अपनी बात कहने की आजादी है| और वहां एक आतंकवादी भी अपनी बात रख सकता है| लेकिन सोशल मीडिया पर कोई संपादक नहीं है| वहां किसी की जवाबदेही नहीं है|

मीडिया में बदलाव तो यकीनन आया है, और उसके सकारात्मक और नकारात्मक दोनों ही पहलु हैं|    

         

  

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