Some of the Speakers

Aman Sethi is currently the Chhattisgarh correspondent for The Hindu. A Free Man , his first book published by Random House India, has been described as wry, humorous and insightful. In this compelling account of the life of an itinerant labourer, Sethi brings the protagonist vividly alive and illuminates the lives of countless others like him. It is an unforgettable portrait of an invisible man in his invisible city.

Alarmel Valli is a leading Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer, acclaimed internationally for her ability to turn traditional grammar into subtle, deeply internalized, personal dance poetry. Her dance has been described as - uncompromisingly classical, but, at the same time, an undeniable language of self-expression. Among numerous awards received by Alarmel Valli, are the Padma Shree and the Padma Bhushan, the Chevalier of Arts and Letters award from the French Government, the Grande Medaille de la Ville de Paris, the Sangeet Natak Akademi award and the Kalaimamani award from the Tamil Nadu Government.

Ali Al Muqri is a Yemeni novelist and poet. Since 1997, he has been the editor of Al-Hikma, a literary publication of the Yemeni Writer’s Association. He has also headed a literary journal called Ghaiman since it was established in 2007. His first novel Black Taste, Black Smell , is the first contemporary Yemeni book about Akhdam, a marginalised Yemeni group discriminated against due to their dark skin. His latest novel, The Handsome Jew, is set in 17th century Yemen and addresses the issue of tolerance of other religions and social classes. He was long listed for the Arabic Booker in 2010.

Angela Saini is an award-winning journalist based in London, whose work focuses on science, technology and its impact on society. Her writings have been published in New Scientist, Science and Wired, and she's a regular reporter on BBC radio science shows, including Click and Health Check. She is the author of Geek Nation , a story of a journey through India to find out whether the country is set to become the world's next scientific superpower. She was short-listed for the Best Feature Award from the Association of British Science Writers in 2010 and named European Junior Science Writer of the Year by the Euro science Foundation in 2009.

Anuja Chauhan, an advertising professional and a bestselling author, made her debut with The Zoya Factor , set against the backdrop of a fictional ICC cricket world cup. Her second novel, Battle for Bittora , is an irreverent take on the electoral process in the world’s largest democracy. Anuja also contributes regularly to magazines like Vogue, Grazia, Outlook and India Today. She is currently working on a new novel and a feature film screenplay for prominent Bollywood producer/director Nikhil Advani titled, “Guppie: Mein Liar Nahi, Shayar Hoon”.

Anushka Ravishankar is an Indian children's writer. She has written over 15 books of verse, fiction and non-fiction, many of which have been published internationally. A majority of these are nonsense or absurd verse, a genre she is particularly attached to. Some of her books are: I Like Cats, Elephants Never Forget, The Tenth Rasa: An Anthology of Indian Non-sense and Wish You Were Here . Apart from children’s books, she also writes plays for both, children and adults and has many international awards to her credit.

Arunava Sinha is a translator of classic and contemporary Bengali fiction. His latest published translations are The Chieftain’s Daughter (Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay) and Three Women (Rabindranath Tagore). His earlier translations include What Really Happened and Other Stories (Banaphool), By The Tungabhadra (SaradinduBandyopadhyay), Striker Stopper (Moti Nandy), and My Kind of Girl (Buddhadeva Bose). His translation of Shankar’s Chowringhee won the Vodafone-Crossword Translation Prize in 2007 and was shortlisted for the Independent Best Foreign Fiction Prize in the U.K. in 2009.

Atanu Roy is an illustrator and political cartoonist by profession. He has a keen interest in photography and computer graphics and has hundreds of children’s books to his credit. He has also designed books for National Book Trust, Limca Book of Records, HarperCollins, Penguin/Puffin India, Scholastic and many more. He has won many awards like, Children’s Choice Award for book illustration (AWIC) in 1989, Sir Bob Geldofs’ Cartoonaid, Book of Cartoons in 1988, International Cartoon Festival, Semarang, Indonesia in 1988 and is also a record holder in Limca Book of Records.

Balanathan "Balu" Mahendran is a filmmaker, screenwriter, and cinematographer. A cinematography graduate and a gold medalist from FTII, Pune, he started his film career as a cameraman for the Malayalam film Nellu . The film earned him the best cinematographer award from the Government of Kerala and he has also been chosen as the best cinematographer for as many as ten films.

Bama Faustina is a pioneering Dalit novelist from Tamil Nadu. Her first novel, Karukku , is the first autobiographical work of its kind. Written in the dialect of her community, it broke new ground in both fiction writing as well as in the use of the spoken language in fiction. Karukku has won several awards and has been translated into many languages. Bama has subsequently written two more novels, Sangathi and Vanmam and two collections of short stories, Kusumbukkaran and Oru Tattavum Erumaiyum . One of the first Dalit women writers to be widely recognised and translated, Bama is a school teacher in Uthiramerur.

Esther David won the Sahitya Akademi Award 2010 and the Prix Eugenie Brazier in France for her novel Book of Rachel . It is now being made into a French film. Before writing books, she was art critic and columnist for The Times of India from 1978 to 2011, where she wrote extensively about the heritage of Ahmedabad where she resides. She was also columnist for Femina, Gujarat and Ahmedabad Mirror, where she wrote about food and social issues. More recently, she documented Gujarat’s Bene Israel Jewish community for the Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel. She has also authored The Walled City, By the Sabarmati, Book of Esther, My Father’s Zoo, Shalom India Housing Society and The Man with Enormous Wings . Esther’s novels based on the Jewish ethos are taught at Pace University U.S. She has edited an anthology of Earthquake Stories and co-authored with Shalva Weil a book on India’s Jewish Heritage Ritual, Art and Life Cycle . She has also co-authored City Stories: Tales from Here and There . She has scripted “Gattu Tales” for Book-Box.

K. Hariharan is a Director at L.V. Prasad Film & TV Academy and also heads the department of Direction at the institute. He is an accomplished filmmaker and distinguished scholar. Graduating from FTII Pune in 1976, his national award winning Tamil film Ezhavathu Manidhan earned him international acclaim featuring in Moscow and other film festivals. Hariharan has directed 3 films for the Children’s Film Society and also made many documentaries on subjects like travel, film education and social movements. As a member of NETPAC he has served on several international film juries. He was a visiting faculty at the University of Pennsylvania since 1995, andcontinues to teach at the Film & TV Institute, Pune, and the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

Indrajit Hazra is a journalist and writer. His books include The Burnt Forehead of Max Saul, The Garden of Earthly Delights and The Bioscope Man . He works as a journalist with Hindustan Times in New Delhi and writes the popular Sunday column Red Herring. Indrajit is currently giving finishing touches to his novel, tentatively titled Bulganin's Girl .

Jai Arjun Singh is a freelance writer and journalist based in Delhi. He writes a fortnightly film column for Yahoo! India and has also written for Business Standard, The Hindu, Tehelka, The Sunday Guardian, Outlook and The Hindustan Times. His book about the making of the cult comedy film, “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron”, was published in 2010. He has also penned Excess: The Tehelka Book of Short Stories and edited an anthology of film writing, The Popcorn Essayists: What Movies do to Writers .

Jigyasa Giri is a writer by profession and a partner at Pritya, a publishing house started by her and her partner Dr. Pratibha Jain. Jigyasa’s first project had been the authoring and publishing of a cookbook of traditional vegetarian Andhra recipes. She edited the translation of Jai Jas Gatha (The Story of A Saint) which is the original work by Dr. Padam Muni in Hindi and Aparigraha Darshan (Discourses on Non- Possessiveness), which is the original work by Upadhyaya Amar Muni in Hindi. Her book, Cooking at Home with Pedatha , won the Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the World in 2006, and Sukham Ayu stood second best in the world for Best Health and Nutrition Book in 2009. She is also a founder of Devaniya, a Kathak dance school in Chennai.

Karthika VK is Publisher and Chief Editor, HarperCollins India.

Khalid Mohamed Khalid Mohamed is an Indian journalist, editor, film critic, screenplay writer and film director. His writing has been featured in Filmfare, Femina, DNA, Hindustan Times and Times of India along with India Today, Indian Express, Stardust, Society, Variety and London’s Sunday Observer. He has authored To B or Not to B, a book on Amitabh Bachchan and has translated eminent painter MF Husain’s autobiography. He is the son of Hindi film actress Zubeida Begum, on whose life he wrote the screenplay of Shyam Benegal’s film, Zubeidaa. Mohamed has directed four Hindi films namely Silsilay, Tehzeeb, Tareekh and Fiza. Apart from Zubeidaa, he has written screenplay for Mamos and Sardari Begum. He debuted recently as a playwright and director of the stageplay Kennedy Bridge.

Latha Anantharaman is a writer, editor and translator based in Palakkad, Kerala. She writes regularly on books, travel and rural living.

Mahesh Dattani is a playwright, stage director, screen writer and filmmaker. His published works include Final Solution and Other Plays , Tara and Collected Works , published by Penguin India in two volumes. In 1998, Mahesh Dattani won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for his book Final Solution and Other Plays . He is the first playwright writing in English to receive this award. His works have been produced in cities like London, Leicester, New York, Washington DC, Sydney, Colombo and Dubai. His film “Mango Soufflé” was shown in several international film festivals and judged best motion picture at the Barcelona Film Festival 2003. His film “Morning Raga” had its international premier at the Cairo Film Festival in 2004 and he won the award for Best Artistic Contribution.

Mansoura Ez Eldin is an Egyptian novelist and journalist. She studied journalism at the Faculty of Mass Communication, Cairo University and is working as literary editor for Akhbar al- Adab. Her first collection of short stories, Shaken Light , was published in 2001. This was followed by two novels, Maryam’s Maze and Beyond Paradise . In 2009, she was selected for Beirut39, as one of the 39 best Arab authors below the age of 40. Her second novel, Beyond Paradise , was shortlisted for the prestigious Arabic Booker Prize in 2010.

Manu Chandra is an Executive Chef at three restaurants over two cities: Olive Bar and Kitchen, Mumbai and Olive Beach, Bangalore. At St. Stephen's College, he wrote, designed and helped photograph a book on fusion cuisine. Manu then enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Hyde Park, New York, where he apprenticed with some of the city's most celebrated kitchens, including Restaurant Daniel, Le Bernardin, Gramercy Tavern, Café Centro, Jean Georges and Town. He is armed with top honours from CIA and a prestigious Sea Food Masters Award for the National Recipe Competition 2002. In 2006, he was featured on India Today's list of Young Achievers. In 2007, Manu was selected as one of the Top 10 Best Young Chefs in the Country by Taste and Travel magazine.

Mini Krishnan is Editor Translations at Oxford University Press. She sources and edits fiction, plays, autobiographies and biographies from 12 Indian languages into English. She was formerly with Macmillan India where she edited the Modern Indian Novels in Translation. So far she has edited 62 literary translations, four of which have won Crossword Awards for translation. She is an advocate of translation education in universities and colleges and is on the National Translation Mission, which operates under the National Knowledge Commission. She is the Founding Editor of the South Asia Women Writers Website hosted by the British Council and was Literary Advisor, The Hindu (1992-98).

Mohammed Hanif is a writer, journalist. Though he graduated from Pakistan Air Force Academy as a pilot officer, he subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. He has worked for Newsline, The Washington Post and India Today. He has also headed the BBC's Urdu service in London. His first novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes was shortlisted for the 2008 Guardian First Book Award and the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize in the Best First Book category. He has also written plays, including a BBC drama and a movie, “The Long Night”.

Mukul Deva, an alumnus of La Martiniere College, Lucknow, the National Defence Academy, Pune and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker and an Executive, Business and Creative Coach. The books written by him are: Time After Time …It All Happened, S.T.R.I.P.T.E.A.S.E: The Art of Corporate Warfare and M.O.D.E.L: The Return of Employee . He also has The Lashkar Series to his credit, which includes Lashkar, Salim Must Die, Blowback and Tanzeem . Mukul Deva recently sold the motion picture rights of Lashkar to Planman Motion Pictures.

Mukul Kesavan is a writer and essayist. His first book Looking Through Glass received critical acclaim. He's keen on the game of cricket and his book on cricket, Men in White , was published by Penguin India in 2007. The Ugliness of the Indian Male and Other Propositions , published by Black Kite is a collection of essays on a wide variety of themes ranging from Indian films to Indian men, travel writing and even political commentary. He is also the co-editor of Civil Lines and his columns have appeared in The Telegraph, and Outlook magazine and blog.

Nikhil Chib is a celebrity chef, restaurateur, columnist, television food show host and an active board member of the Spastics Society of India. He founded Busaba, the popular restro-lounge in Mumbai. His penchant for travelling, hunting for the right spices and settling only for the freshest ingredients turned into a driving passion and pushed him further to travel across Asia and experiment with various authentic food styles from Vietnam, Burma, Thailand and Korea.

Nirmala Lakshman, Director of The Hindu, has edited The Hindu's Sunday Magazine and other feature sections of The Hindu for over two decades. She launched The Hindu Literary Review in the year 1991 and has also established several other popular feature sections of the newspaper. She is the author of an anthology of contemporary Indian journalism called Writing A Nation and has contributed essays and chapters to several literary publications. These contributions include interviews with writers such as Edward Said and Salman Rushdie. She writes a column on books and the pleasures of reading for The Hindu, called Lit by Books and is presently working on a novel.

Nisha Susan is a writer. She is currently the Features Editor at Tehelka, where she reports on culture - a hold-all term that allows the pursuit of anything from female boxers in Guwahati to Gond art, mating rituals in school etc. Some of her short fiction has been published by Penguin and Zubaan. She is currently working on a collection called Broadband and the Bookslut and Other Stories .

P. Sivakami is an acclaimed Tamil writer. She is Tamil Nadu's first woman Dalit IAS officer. She is the founder of the Dalit Land Right movement in Tamil Nadu and after her voluntary retirement, she joined the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In 2009 she founded her own political party named Samuga Samatuva Padai - a party for social equality. Sivakami has written four critically acclaimed Tamil novels, all of them centering on Dalit and women themes. One of these was translated into English and published as Grip of Change . She also edits a Tamil monthly Puthiya Kodangi which she has been bringing out since 1995. In literary circles, Sivakami is considered a strong dalit writer with a feminist penchant. Her second novel titled Aanandayee is under publication by Penguin.

Rahul Bhattacharya is a cricket journalist and is now a contributing editor with Wisden Asia Cricket. He has also been writing for the Guardian. He is the author of the novel, The Sly Company of People Who Care , described as a work ‘that is here to last’ in India Today, and ‘remarkable and exquisite’ in The New York Times. His first book, Pundits From Pakistan , was voted fourth in The Wisden Cricketer’s list of best cricket books of all time, and won the Hutch Crossword Award for most popular book.

Rajeev Balasubramanyam is a graduate of Oriel College, Oxford and has a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Rajeev's first novel, In Beautiful Disguises won a Betty Trask Prize in 1999 and was nominated for the Guardian First Fiction Prize. His second novel, The Dreamer, is based on the Ian St. James award-winning story of the same title. Rajeev is currently working on his third novel, The Story .

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is a filmmaker and screenwriter. He started his career as an advertising film maker. He established Flicks Motion Picture Company Private Limited in 1986. He is best known for writing and directing “Rang De Basanti” (2006). For this film he won the Best Director Filmfare Award, National Film Award and also received British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BFTA) Award nomination, for Best Foreign Language Film. Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra Pictures (ROMP) has cultivated an attitude to pioneer the way for a new wave and new age cinema from India.

Rana Dasgupta is a British-Indian novelist and essayist. His first novel, Tokyo Cancelled , is an examination of the forces and experiences of globalisation. The book was shortlisted for John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and Vodafone Crossword Award. His second novel, Solo , is an epic tale of the 20th and 21st centuries told from the perspective of a 100-year old Bulgarian man. He was awarded the prestigious Common Writers’ Prize for the novel and it won both the region and overall best-book prize.

Ravi Singh is a publisher and is presently working with Rupa & Co as a consultant. Before joining Rupa & Co., he was editor-in-chief of Penguin India.

Sachin Pilot became the youngest Member of Parliament in the country at the age of 26. He represents the Ajmer constituency of Rajasthan and is a Member of the Indian National Congress. He is also a Member of the Indian Parliament's Standing Committee on Home Affairs, a Member of the Consultative Committee in the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications and Technology.

Sanjna Kapoor joined Prithvi Theatre in 1990s. She is involved in the running of the theatre and its various activities. She has added a host of programmes and workshops like Prithvi Players and Little Prithvi Players - Theatre for Children. Sanjna has now become the face of Prithvi Theatre. The Indian government issued a commemorative stamp in 1995 to mark 50 years of Prithvi Theatre in memory of the founder Prithviraj Kapoor. The Theatre continues to flourish, providing a home for new talent and source of inspiration to the theatre fraternity and audience with over 400 shows a year.

Saugata Mukherjee is the Publisher, Pan Macmillan India, where he heads the imprints Picador, Pan and Macmillan.

Shabana Azmi is an Indian actress of film, television and theatre. An alumna of the Film and Television Institute of India, she made her film debut in 1974 and soon became one of the leading actresses of parallel cinema, an Indian New Wave movement known for its serious content and neo-realism. Azmi's performances in films in a variety of genres have generally earned her praise and awards which include a record of five wins of the National Film Award for Best Actress, for Filmfare Awards and several international honours. Azmi has appeared in over 120 mainstream and independent Hindi films and foreign projects. In addition to acting, Azmi is a social and women's rights activist, a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), and a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament.

Shashi Tharoor, a former Minister of State for External Affairs, is a member of the Indian Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala. Dr. Tharoor is the award-winning author of 12 books, some of which are: Reasons of State, India: From Midnight To The Millennium, Kerala: God’s Own Country , with text by ShashiTharoor and paintings by the renowned artist, M.F. Husain; Nehru: The Invention of India, Bookless In Baghdad and The Elephant, The Tiger and The Cellphone: Reflections on India in the 21st Century . His three novels are The Great Indian Novel, Riot , and Show Business .

Siddharth Varadarajan is the Editor of The Hindu and has previously worked with The Times of India. He is a member of the International Founding Committee of The Real News, a board member of the inter-governmental B.P. Koirala India-Nepal Foundation, member of the Indian Council of World Affairs and a member of the editorial board of India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs. Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy , edited by Varadarajan, contains accounts of the violence against the Muslims of that state in India. He has been awarded the Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize Silver Medal for Print Journalism, the Bernard O'Higgins Order for contribution to journalism and promotion of India's relations with Latin America and Chile and the Ramnath Goenka award for Journalist of the Year.

Singeetam Srinivasa Rao made his directorial debut with the Telugu Film Neethi Nijayathi in 1972. He has directed about 60 films in various languages including Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and English. He has directed several movies, including Pushpak, Mayuri, Taram Marindhi, Vichitra Sodarulu, Michael Madhana Kamarajan, and Aditya 369. He also directed an English animation film called Son of Aladdin. He has scripted many plays including Brahma, Antya Ghattam, and Chitrarajuna. Currently he is working on a film about the life of Jesus Christ, scheduled to be released in 2011. He has received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil for Dikketra Paravathi and Golden Lotus Award for Best Director for Pushpak. He has also received the Nandi Award and Filmfare Best Director Award (Telugu) for Bhairava Dweepam.

Susie Tharu is a founder member of Anveshi – a research centre for women’s studies in Hyderabad. She has been a Professor and Coordinator at the School of Critical Humanities and The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. Her research interests vary from the cultural history of India, feminism, issues of minority, and social medicine. She has authored six books including a dossier of new Dalit writing from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, titled No Alphabet in Sight , and the well-known two volume anthology Women Writing in India , co-edited with K. Lalita.

Tahmima Anam is a London-based writer. Her first novel, A Golden Age , was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and also for the Costa First Novel Prize. She is the winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book. Her second novel, The Good Muslim , was published by Penguin Books in India in 2011. Her writings have been published in Granta, The New York Times and the Guardian.

Urvashi Butalia is an Indian feminist and historian. She is the Director and co-founder of Kali for Women, India's first feminist publishing house. Her writing has appeared in several newspapers including the Guardian, The Statesman, The Hindu and several magazines such as Outlook, the New Internationalist and India Today. She was also conferred the Padma Shree award for her contribution to Indian literature. She is known for her book, The Other Side of Silence , which is the product of more than 70 interviews Butalia conducted with survivors of the Partition.

Vasundhara Raje was initiated into politics by her mother in 1982. She held a variety of posts in the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and was elected to the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly in 1985. From 1989 onwards she won four consecutive elections to the Lok Sabha from Jhalawar, Rajasthan. Under Atal Bihari Vajpayee's premiership, Vasundharaji held independent charge of numerous cabinet departments like Small Scale Industries and Agro & Rural Industries, Personnel and Training, Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare, Public Grievances and Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space and her most prominent role, that of the Union Minister of State for External Affairs. Vasundhara Raje's five-year term as Chief Minister was marked by a strong focus on infrastructure-building and social initiatives. Vasundharaji now holds the position of Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan state assembly.

Vikram Seth is a famous poet, novelist, travel writer and biographer. His poetry collections include Mapping, The Humble Administrator’s Garden, All You Who Sleep Tonight, Beastly Tales and Three Chinese Poets . His novels include Golden Gate, A Suitable Boy, An Equal Music and Two Lives . He has won a number of awards including the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award in 1983, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) in 1985, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize in 1993 and the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1994.

Vir Das has to his credit, over 600 stand-up comedy performances, eight TV shows, five movies and seven comedy specials. In 2010, Vir starred in Yash Raj films’ “Badmaash Company” and in Aamir Khan Production’s “Delhi Belly” in 2011 and will be seen in Tanuja Chandra’s new film. Weirdass Comedy, Vir’s comedy company, is India’s first comedy content company formed by some of the top comedians in India.

Zac O’Yeah is a novelist, literary critic and columnist. He studied creative writing at NordiskaFolkhögskolan (Kungälv, Sweden), linguistics and theatre theory at University of Stockholm (Sweden). Currently, he writes about crime fiction in Mint Lounge, the weekend supplement of the Indian edition of Wall Street Journal. He also reviews books for Deccan Herald’s Sunday supplement. He has also translated various selections of Indian writings to Swedish. Some his works include Once Upon A Time in Scandinavistan , the Gandhi biography Mahatma which was shortlisted for the August Prize 2008 for Best Non-fiction Book of the Year. His most recent book in Swedish is the conspiracy thriller Summan Av Kardemumman .

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