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“Books on the Beach” literature festival in November

Thiruvananthapuram, May 16 (PTI) Leading writers and thinkers from across India and abroad will participate in the inaugural edition of ‘Books on the Beach’, a literature festival to be held here in November.

The literature fest, organised by non-profit India Book Foundation under the guidance and patronage of former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, MP, and supported by Kerala Tourism, will be held at Kovalam from November 10-12.

Besides serving as an annual platform for the best in Indian and world literature, Books on the Beach will over successive editions tap into the city s youthful energy and distinctive charm to promote it as a leading destination for culture and tourism, Tharoor and Dr Venu V, Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism, told reporters here today. Read more

Source: India.com

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Calcutta Club USA to host Third Annual Sanskriti LitFest and Book Fair on June 10th

ACTON, MA–Calcutta Club USA will host its third annual Sanskriti LitFest and Book Fair on Saturday, June 10th, at Parker Damon Building in Acton MA from 12 PM to 5 PM, the organizers said in a statement.

This novel event in North America, which brings together literature, art, cuisine, thought leadership and family fun within a single venue, has risen in prominence in just three years and attracts the top literati and South Asian authors to participate either in person or over videoconference, the statement said.

Books of prominent Indian sub-continent authors are available for purchase in English, Bengali and Hindi. A key innovation of the book fair is the Authors’ Direct program – the popular platform to reach Boston’s reading community leveraged by over 50 rising authors.

The Keynote Speaker will be the globally renowned Shashi Tharoor, India’s bestselling author, former UN UnderSecretary General and member of parliament, who is traveling to Boston to speak at the Calcutta Club USA book fair. Read more

Source: India New England News


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India: Two upcoming festivals in Mumbai to focus on India’s regional literature

By Kaushani Banerjee

While there has been a rapid growth in the sheer number of literary festivals around the country, most of them tend to focus on English literature. International authors are often the star attractions at these events and there is often little or almost no spotlight for regional authors, who are left confined to school textbooks. But two homegrown festivals in the city are slowly working their way towards shifting focus to regional literature. Lit O Fest and Gateway LitFest, both in their third year, have a burgeoning line-up of authors who will engage in talks, panel discussions and book launches.

The Multicultural aspect

Lit O Fest is a not just a literature festival, it’s a multi-cultural event that will be held over two days. The usual panel discussions will be interspersed with dance and music performances. “It is a showcase of Indian culture focusing on arts, music and dance. This year, the festival has adopted a village in Maharashtra called Dahigaon and started a school in it as well. We plan to adopt other villages as well and make them self-sufficient. So it’s not just literature, it’s also literacy in rural India,” says festival director Smita Parikh.

Popular authors such as Anand Neelakantan, Shashi Tharoor, William Dalrymple, Ashwin Sanghi and Shatrujeet Nath will be in attendance. Renowned Hindi authors Kedarnath Singh and Uday Prakash will be felicitated this year at the festival. Read more

Source: Hindustan Times


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Apeejay Kolkata literature festival to begin on January 15

The eighth edition of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival commencing from January 15 would be attended among others by Shashi Tharoor, editor-novelist Raj Kamal Jha, eminent authors Amit Chaudhuri, Shobha De, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, scholar, literary theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and others.

The four-day festival ending January 18, focussed on the historical spirit of inclusiveness in creativity and culture of the city, would be held at the St Paul’s Cathedral.

Maina Bhagat and Anjum Katyal, directors, Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival said: “The year that has gone by has wounded the psyche of people globally and its impact will be seen in literature across the next few years. AKLF’s 2017 is woven around starting conversations to make the world a more inclusive place.” Highlights of the festival include a two-day Oxford Junior Literary Festival titled “Celebrating Children & Youth” and celebration of Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize in literature. A film will be screened on Mahasweta Devi. Read more

Source: The Asian Age 


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Is fiction on the decline? Non-fiction found more takers in 2016

The tastes of the reading public in India seem to growing beyond fiction. In what is being seen as a major evolution in the Indian publishing space, 2016 witnessed a fast and booming shift to memoirs and non-fiction while fiction titles were subdued not only in terms of their numbers but also popularity among readers. Industry insiders say this is a cumulative result of the nation’s changing reading patterns.

Opening the year with a surprise was Anything But Khamosh, the authorised biography of Bollywood icon and politician Shatrughan Sinha, by Bharati Pradhan.

The book, which was launched at the Jaipur Lit Fest towards the end of January, went on to attract readers from all age groups and even the “Bihari Babu” left no stone unturned in its promotions, retracing the many “hurrahs and heartaches” of his life at promotional events. Read more

Source: Hindustan Times


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Book Review: An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor

By Abhishek Sikhwal

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I have been waiting for a book like An Era of Darkness for quite some time. While much has been written about the British empire and the brutality of colonization, none of those accounts came from an Indian perspective. African-Americans have been able to recount the horrors of slavery through books such as Inhuman Bondage and Many Thousands Gone, but Indians have only been served an ersatz history of the empire by apologists such as Niall Ferguson (Empire) and Lawrence James (The Rise and Fall of the British Empire). In reviewing this book, my slight bias, of which I’m forthcoming, arises squarely from the fact that there hasn’t been anything similar that singularly deals with the Indian experience of colonization.

Tharoor’s book, which took shape after his speech on the subject went viral last year, is an extensive examination of the economic and cultural damage wreaked upon India over the 200 years it was under British rule. In order to establish their dominion, the British dismantled the organic structure of the subcontinent which was always, as the historian Jon Wilson noted, “a society of little societies”.

Tharoor rubbishes the argument that the British were better than the native kings they were supplanting by citing the good governance in kingdoms such as Travancore, Mysore and Oudh. Even the Moghuls, who ruled India for over three centuries, assimilated themselves into the region and the capital extracted under their empire never left the country. The British, however, kept themselves aloof from the customs of the indigenous people and systematically siphoned off the country’s wealth to Britain. According to Tharoor, “By the early 1800s, India had been reduced from a land of artisans, traders, warriors and merchants, functioning in thriving and complex commercial networks, into an agrarian society of peasants and moneylenders”.

While some think that the British should be thanked for introducing the railways, press and parliamentary system into India, Tharoor argues that these were only introduced in order to accelerate the purloin of the country’s riches and to maintain control over the land. He also points out how India is still suffering under a system that was framed with Victorian values. Our bureaucracy, corruption and unfortunate laws pertaining to homosexuality and sedition can all be attributed to the archaic system set up by the British. Even the divide-and-rule policy initially used by the British to keep Indians quarrelling amongst themselves, created a gulf between communities that continues till today.

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Excerpts: An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor

an-era-of-darkness-the-british-empire-in-india

By the end of the nineteenth century, India was Britain’s biggest source of revenue, the world’s biggest purchaser of British exports and the source of highly paid employment for British civil servants and soldiers all at India’s own expense. We literally paid for our own oppression.

Taxation remained onerous. Agricultural taxes amounted at a minimum to half the gross produce and often more, leaving the cultivator less food than he needed to support himself and his family; British estimates conceded that taxation was two or three times higher than it had ever been under non-British rule, and unarguably higher than in any other country in the world. Each of the British ‘presidencies’ remitted vast sums of ‘savings’ to England, as of course did English civil servants, merchants and soldiers employed in India. (After a mere twenty-four years of service, punctuated by and including four years of ‘home leave’ furloughs, the British civil servant was entitled to retire at home on a generous pension paid for by Indian taxpayers: Ramsay MacDonald estimated in the late 1920s that some 7,500 Englishmen were receiving some twenty million pounds annually from India as pension.)

While British revenues soared, the national debt of   India multiplied exponentially. Half of India’s revenues went out of India, mainly to England. Indian taxes paid not only for the British Indian Army in India, which was ostensibly maintaining India’s security, but also for a wide variety of foreign colonial expeditions in furtherance of the greater glory of the British empire, from Burma to Mesopotamia. In 1922, for instance, 64 per cent of the total revenue of the Government of India was devoted to paying for British Indian troops despatched abroad. No other army in the world, as Durant observed at the time, consumed so large a proportion of public revenues.

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Impressive line-up of Indian authors at Sharjah book fair

The 35th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair will witness participation by an impressive line-up of Indian writers, actors, chefs and entrepreneurs. The region’s most anticipated book fair and cultural event will take place from November 2 to 12 at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Among the celebrated names are Javed Akthar, a leading film script writer and lyricist, Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi, authors Chetan Bhagat, Shashi Tharoor, Kanishk Tharoor, M.T. Vasudevan Nair and cinema personalities such as Mammootty, Shatrughan Sinha, Shilpa Shetty, and many others. Read more


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New release: An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor

an-era-of-darkness

Revealing the ugly truth about the British rule in India is Shashi Tharoor’s latest book An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India. The book published by Aleph Book Company is slated to launch on 1st November.

An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India originated from a speech made by Shashi Tharoor at the Oxford Union in 2015, that went viral across digital platforms clocking 3.5 million hits.

In this explosive book, the author reveals with acuity, impeccable research, and trademark wit, just how disastrous British rule was for India. Besides examining the many ways in which the colonizers exploited India, ranging from the drain of national resources to Britain, the destruction of the Indian textile, steel-making and shipping industries, and the negative transformation of agriculture, he demolishes the arguments of Western and Indian apologists for Empire on the supposed benefits of British rule, including democracy and political freedom, the rule of law, and the railways. The few unarguable benefits—the English language, tea, and cricket—were never actually intended for the benefit of the colonized but introduced to serve the interests of the colonizers. An Era of Darkness will serve to correct many misconceptions about one of the most contested periods of Indian history.

 

About the author:

Shashi Tharoor is the bestselling author of fifteen previous books, both fiction and non-fiction, besides being a noted critic and columnist. His books include the path-breaking satire The Great Indian Novel (1989), the classic India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1997), and most recently, India Shastra: Reflections on the Nation in Our Time (2015). He was a former Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and a former Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India. He is a two-time member of the Lok Sabha from Thiruvananthapuram and chairs Parliament’s External Affairs Committee. He has won numerous literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was honoured as New Age Politician of the Year (2010) by NDTV. He was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, India’s highest honour for overseas Indians.

 

 

 


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A Partition in the Indian soul would be far more devastating than the Partition on the Indian soil: Shashi Tharoor

Shashi TharoorUnlike many Indian writers, Dr. Shashi Tharoor needs no introduction. India has not produced many charming, suave and articulate writer-politicians like him. He served as the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for 29 years, and thereafter joined the rough and rumble of Indian politics. He was a former Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India and currently serves as a Member of Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in the Indian state of Kerala. His latest book is India Shastra: Reflections on the Nation in our Time, a collection of 100 essays on contemporary India and events from its recent history that have contributed to its present state of affairs in the political, social, economic, cultural and communal arenas.

Kitaab’s Editor-in-Chief Zafar Anjum interviewed Dr. Tharoor in connection with his recent book.

India Shastra is a collection of 100 essays written by you over several years. Being an active politician, how do you find time to write essays? Is disciple crucial for you as a writer?

Dr. Shashi Tharoor: Discipline is crucial for any productive activity, but in my case it really has been a question of finding time despite my best efforts! I won’t deny that I have some experience in getting 24 hours out of every day, since all my books were written alongside demanding, full-time professional life as well, first at the United Nations and now in the service of the people of Thiruvananthapuram who have given me a renewed mandate as their Member of Parliament. I must confess it is easier to write essays — and at the next level, publishable non-fiction– than it is to write fiction. With the former, once I know what I want to convey, it is merely a question of sitting down and articulating it in so many words. If I am interrupted by my other work while writing, I can always go back to the essay, pick up the threads and finish the argument. With fiction, on the other hand, one has to weave a world of the imagination and an alternate reality, to which even a minor distraction could do damage, as a testament to which you will find numerous unfinished drafts of novels I had to discard not just because of lack of time but more due to the frequent interruptions that shattered my fictional worlds. That is why my works of fiction have been fewer than my non-fiction books, though I am now planning to sacrifice a couple more hours of sleep and determined to bring to life a novel that has been in the making in my mind for some time now.

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