Lit for Life As Day 1 happened | Use this life to be completely fulfilled, stresses cancer-survivor Manisha Koirala

With names such as Arun Shourie, John Keay and Daniel Handler, the ninth edition ofThe Hindu Lit for Life balances the hard talk with fun, insight and much more

Updated - January 12, 2019 07:38 pm IST

Published - January 12, 2019 09:09 am IST

The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.

The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.

The ninth edition of The Hindu Lit for Life has a whole gamut of sessions: on the future of democracy, the #MeToo movement, the art and politics of dissent, mental illness, poetry, and ecology, to name a few.

Speakers include Arun Shourie, the economist-journalist, British historian and journalist John Keay; Meghna Gulzar, whose latest film, Raazi , was one of the best-liked films of 2018; Audrey Truschke, whose work on Aurangzeb has thrown her in the eye of a storm; and VVS Laxman, whose career will always be remembered for his ability to score tough runs.


Here are the latest updates:


Akhila Ramnarayan reads an excerpt from a short story, The Letter , by Kalki Krishnamurthy as Nisha Rajagopal provides a musical backdrop imbued with all the pathos contained in the tale of Annapurni Devi, a dedicated champion of women’s emancipation, as was DKP.

7.00 p.m.

Pattammal experimented with super complex rhythmic patterns. Her virtuosity evoked remarks such as, “How can a woman sing like this?” as well as “Can a man sing like this?”

Pattammal said it was “preposterous” to believe that women are inferior to men, or worse, that women should hide their talent and restrict their imagination in order not to offend the male sense of superiority.”

DKP did not get lost in the past, she actively engaged with the present, insists Gowri Ramnarayan, speaking of Pattammal’s foray into film music.

Pattammal shared Subramania Bharathiyar’s vision of India as a single, whole, united nation, and his pride in Indian culture, says Ramnarayan, as the soft strains of ‘Jaya Jaya Vande Mataram’ ensue. Her signature song, ‘Shanti Nilava Vendum’, was about Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of world peace. Pattammal urged people to exercise their right to vote with her recordings played in public spaces.

6.45 p.m.

In the final session for the day, author Gowri Ramnarayan will anchor Her Music Her Life: A centenary tribute to DK Pattammal , a decade since the passing of the musical doyen. It features thespian and scholar Akhila Ramnarayan and Carnatic vocalist Nisha Rajagopal.

Pattammal stocked up on Muthuswami Dikshitar’s compositions, Ms. Ramnarayan says, after a look at DKP’s childhood and musical upbringing. Most of them were unknown and not as popular at the time. Was she fired up by the intellectual challenge to prove her musicianship, she wonders, as Nisha Rajagopal proceeds to demonstrate an snippet of ‘Soundararajam ashrayae’ in Brindavana Saranga.

Pattammal was a ninth-grade dropout. No one knows how she taught herself several languages, and grasp the stylistic flow of the verses she sang. With her flawless diction, she could not pronounce the name of her favourite cricketer, “Madagascar”, more popularly known as Mudassar Nazar. She also had a special liking for tennis great Rod Laver.

6.30 p.m.

Everything she earned from the book goes to charity, Manisha Koirala admits; not just in terms of money, in any capacity possible, including giving hope to people. “I want to tell people to use this life to be completely fulfilled.”

On her diet, she talks about being on the keto diet (great for cancer patients) for some time, and focusses on organic food. On her exercise, she speaks about walking regularly, hiking in the Kathmandu hills. She recommends being active physically to expedite rehabilitation.

She stresses on the role spirituality played in her life and recovery — positive affirmations, visualisations, developing a connection with the divine. Holistic healing goes beyond alopathic care, she reiterates. Being mindful and brave enough to take note of imbalances in various dimensions of your life.

Asked by a member of the audience which current-generation actor she would like to see play the protagonist in a biopic on Manisha Koirala, the latter tries to chuckle it off, but offers the name of Alia Bhat.

6.00 p.m.

My strong parents have been a huge blessing for me, says Ms. Koirala, reiterating the utmost importance of social and human connection in the process of recovery.

On her second innings in life and career, she says she wants to give it her all, grab every opportunity, be it films, or training for a hike to Mount Everest base camp.  She says cancer taught her many lessons. “I realised the value of being present. Giving it your time and attention, letting someone know that you’re there for them.”

5.45 pm

The next session is Second Act — Manisha Koirala in conversation with Dr. Sheela Nambiar .

Actor Manisha Koirala speaks about surviving ovarian cancer and her book on the same titled Healed . She mentions about taking a mental call on becoming stronger. “I wanted to thrive, reach out the maximum potential of this life. As long as I live, I wanted to thrive.

The ability to drop resentment is crucial, Ms. Koirala emphasises; and likewise, maintaining a balance between work and rest. “Loving and honouring oneself, especially speaking as a woman, prioritising myself before somebody else, is something I have learned to do.”

5.25 pm

To a question on what right does Ms. Truschke have to comment on Indian history, she says, "I am a trained historian. I read Sanskrit, I read Persian. I have training in historical methods. History is not just what happened in the past.

The point of learning about the past is to first learn about history and to learn about who people used to be in different ways of life. We really need to work on embracing that radical difference and appreciating that."

4.45 pm

Audrey Truschke gives an illustrated lecture on The Myth and Reality of Emperor Aurangzeb. 

"Aurangzeb in Education: In school text books he is portrayed very rudely, and in few, removed completely. Hindu nationalists make a claim about the past claiming that Indian civilisation is and has always been Hindu. That claim is absurd. An Indo-Muslim history by its very existence indicates the absolute lunacy of Hindutva. In this sense, even a fictional tale such as the film Padmaavat, is threatening because it reminds us of the stories involving Muslims permeate both the Indian past and imaginations thereof. A fictional tale scare Hindutvas. Then imagine how much more dangerous they view history. This pits many Hindu nationalists against historians.

Today I want to share some of my research for this book. Aurangzeb is best understood as a premodern Indian king pursuing a particular vision of justice. Aurangzeb came to power on the heels of a bloody war of succession. Due to his policy of protecting temples, most of the Hindu and Jain temples within Mughal domains, still stood at the end of his reign. Nobody knows the number of temples demolished under his rule.

He was alarmed as people fell prey to people he perceived as charlatans. Aurangzeb intervened in his subjects' religious lives. He curbed overly zealous public celebrations of both Hindu and Muslim religious festivals including Holi and Eid. He attempted to ban alcohol, prostitution and opium. Unlike popular myth, Aurangzeb was considered as righteous and had sensible tax rules. He wasn’t the demon we make him to be."

3.40 pm

Making India Work: Arun Shourie in conversation with N. Ravi at the The Hindu Lit For Life in Chennai on Saturday.

Making India Work: Arun Shourie in conversation with N. Ravi at the The Hindu Lit For Life in Chennai on Saturday.


Eminent journalist and political commentator Arun Shourie in conversation with the Publisher of The Hindu, N. Ravi at the session Making India Work.

N. Ravi initiates the discussion on Mr. Shourie's book 'Anita Gets Bail' in which the latter narrates the travails of his wife Anita being prosecuted for an alleged environmental law provision.

Mr. Shourie reads out from his book "Anita Gets Bail" and takes a dig at certain judgements of the Supreme Court. He says "they [judges of the Court] do not, most often, consequences of their judgements."

Mr. Ravi refers to the DA case concerning former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa. "Between the conclusion of arguments [at the Supreme Court] and the delivery of judgement, seven months had passed and Jayalalithaa had died. How do you see the role of SC and High Court?"

Mr. Shourie says, "When the case moves to the higher court, then discussions come up on who the expert will be, how he will be selected. Every matter will be sent to appeal and the gentleman who was the advocate general for Karnataka, he said that by the end he could write a book on the law of adjournments. After the examination, the Karnataka High Court judge gave an absolutely shameless judgment."

Mr. Ravi, in the context of the Supreme Court's judgement on Rafale deal, says, "The Court may be supreme but not infallible."

Mr. Shourie on Rafale deal controversy, questions the refusal of the government to disclose price. He recalls that in the past, the price had been stated in Parliament with regard to the Mirage deal. He terms as a "betrayal of the requirements of the national security" the way the Supreme Court has handled the Rafale deal case. On Modi, "What I initially saw as harmless errors should have been recognised as traits, which I came to realise later."

"We must not recognise any personal law of any religion at all. They should all be done away with," Mr. Shourie answering a question on Tradition vs Women's rights. On Sabarimala row - While women's solution is to go to the temple whereas my solution is: "I will never go there." Mr. Shourie ends his session by calling upon people to study judgements and comment on them in an academic way. "This is the way to ensure accountability."

2 .30 pm

Governance A Responsibility: S. Peter Alphonse, Mahendran, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, Thol. Thirumavalavan in conversation with S. Karthigachemvan (third from left) at the The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.

Governance A Responsibility: S. Peter Alphonse, Mahendran, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, Thol. Thirumavalavan in conversation with S. Karthigachemvan (third from left) at the The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.


A session in Tamil, Governance A Responsibility begins with C. Mahendran, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, S. Peter Alphonse and Thol. Thirumavalavan in conversation with S. Karthigaichelvan.

Journalist Karthigaichelvan says the discussion will be on freedom, safety, stable government and so on.

DMK's Kanimozhi says both a stable and a responsible government is necessary. "If we question a government's stability time and again, then that government in not a very functional, people-centric government at all."

CPI's Mahendran speaks about various issues being faced by the society. CPI stands tall when it comes to democracy.

VCK’s Thol. Thirumavalavan says a responsbile government is more important. Instead of seeing it as a code of governance, it should be seen as doctrine of governance. Only the rulers have responsibility to see that every citizen is able to follow his rights. Education is not for employment, rather it is for awareness.

S. Peter Alphonse says everyone needs a safety net. He mentions the Pongal benefit of ₹1000 in Tamil Nadu becoming an issue of debate among the people. Economic zones, malls don't really help the majority of the people.

1.30 pm

Husain Haqqani: "We should try and make a distinction between what is and what we want to think it is. What we must be weary of, is when something that is driven by an algorithm, it is somebody else maneuvering and manipulating the system.

Five countries were made custodians of global peace. But many countries have nuclear weapons. Maybe we are entering into an era in which there will be less order in the world than we have known in our entire lives. And James' point that China and what China wants will shape what is going to happen to the rest of the world a lot more than our familiar patterns of understanding the world."

Sashi Kumar: "We have had a long era of peace. This is a very Euro-North American view. There is suffering and inequalities everywhere. A world order is not a cosmetic reality. It is lived lives of people in large parts of Asia, Africa, even European countries, the strife and the struggle.

Writer John Keay: "In the case of China, I don't think the world really understands China at all. My experience of China as a writer of history is that the Chinese have always been interested in their immediate neighbours. But they've never taken an interest in the wide world beyond them. I think they want to be involved more in world councils and that sort of recognition might defuse the situation say in South China Sea or the relations with Taiwan and so on.

The Chinese have come up with this amazing Belgium Road. We should try and work out what they're trying to do and how we can all engage and profit from it."

Sashi Kumar: "People are electing authoritarian regimes. We have ethnocentric kind of forces. We have street mobs, lynchings. What kind of democracy is this?"

Husain Haqqani speaks: "The last few years there were a lot of problems. But it did not have anything comparable to the world wars. I think more human beings live in relative prosperity compared to 70 years ago. The global order always needs adjustment and democracy also needs improvement. Democracy is recognition of the rights of minorities also. All of a sudden all these leaders are using democracy to deprive the minority of their rights. We need 3 major course corrections.

i) Within democracy, people need to push for the rights of the minority, as much as the rights of the majority. Let the majority have its way but lets guard against authoritarian leaders.

ii) We need to preserve world order. We need to put up a fight for that these structures need to be improved. They don't need to be demolished. We need to deal with rogue nations.

iii) We need to recognise that just as when America was the rising superpower, many of us were critics of their behaviour. It is okay to criticise the behaviour of the new rising superpower because that's how you keep the world in balance. Let there be order."

1:00 pm

The next session is Shaping the New World Order. Husain Haqqani, James Crabtree, John Keay and Suki Kim in conversation with Sashi Kumar.

"Liberal democracy is on the back foot. We don't know the future of democracy. Democracy doesn't always comes with the idea of liberalism. Let this panel look at what's the future of democracy," says Asianet founder Sashi Kumar.

Author of 'Pakistan Between Mosque & Military' & 'Magnificent Delusions', Pakistan ambassador to U.S. 2008-2011, Husain Haqqani speaks: "U.S. ended up having half the world's GDP at one point. Calling someone an internationalist used to be a word of praise. Now it's denigration. Brexit may not have been possible if Britain had an era of only newspapers. It is a reversal of internationalism and globalisation. The structures that existed are coming apart."

Writer & journalist James Crabtree gives his inputs: "After the Doklam conflict, and Modi's trip to Wuhan, even though India and Japan are concerned about China's rise, we are in for a rough ride. How are you going to position yourself between an erratic unreliable America and an increasingly assertive China? If you're a country like India, atleast America and China haven't banned you and decided to divide the world up between them."

"The threat to democracy is real, with authoritarian governments increasing in number. But, people shouldn't lose trust in democracy because it is a good form of government."

Writer & journalist Suki Kim: "Media creates a perception on peace in Korean peninsula. But a lot of talks and photo-ops have happened. In reality, North Korea has not given up nuclear weapons."

12:40 pm

Back to conversation with Lemony Snicket . He narrates how he managed to publish poetry. He recalls how he was paid in American dollars when he was in Canada. Since the currency couldn't be used in there, he saved them and used it to publish poetry.

A couple of Snicket books are in the annvil. There are also many Lemony Snicket cocktails. He has written cocktail books too.

How did you come up with such characters, asks a member from the audience. "That's because I don't have a job," he says. He also says people and events he met in his life too have an influence.

Why dark genre? Because many terrible things happen in real life, the author says. 


12:20 pm

Words of now, Words of Memory: Poetry of disappearing landscapes

This session at The Slate pavillion involves Jacinta Kerketta and Nighat Sahiba in conversation with Kavitha Muralidharan. Kavitha opens the discussion explaining that the poetry originated as early as 1914, and provided man with the first images of the World War at the time.

Jacinta is an Adivasi, while Nighat hails from South Kashmir.

Jacinta writes in Hindi and English. She says, “Only by writing in Hindi, does it come to the discussion of the mainstream”. She says, “In my mother tongue, we don’t know what is rape and the concept of woman abuse. We do not have any abusive words in my mother tongue”.

Nighat says she prefers Kashmiri. She says that Hindi is not prominent in Kashmir, and that Kashmiri and Urdu are more commonplace. “Kashmiri history dates 600 years. But today, indigenous languages are dying out, and the growth of English has made the youth do things only in English. People write in English because it’s easier and gives more global outreach”. She says her work is making people aware of the culture now.

Nighat goes on to say, “ People in Kashmir thought I was writing about love, which is something a girl should not do. Poetry is not a very common career for a girl in Kashmir. And when I go to male dominated literary festivals now, they sometimes say, ‘If this is your work, it is very good!’ “ Nighat says she is not that lonely a voice, with companions now.

Jacinta says there are very less Adivasi writers, poets and that only they can write about their circumstances and perspectives. “The Adivasis do not know why people in other parts of the country are fighting in the name of the cow or religion. We worship the sun, mountain and all that we see”.

12:00 noon

The next session is The Handler of Unfortunate Events . American author Daniel Handler, who goes by the pen name Lemony Snicket will interact with Rosella Stephen, Editor, The Weekend .

Handler has written a number of children's books but he is better known as the author and narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events .  The 13-part series traces the mysterious life of the Baudelaire siblings who face dark challenges after the death of their parents.

Lemony Snicket is a literary hero, says Rosella Stephen. "I am an American. I frequently meet shocked and stunned people," Snicket says amid chuckles. "But I haven't met shocked children," he adds.

The Baudelaire siblings are brave after they have faced so much. The author recalls how people would call his father brave from escaping the Nazi attack, while his father would think he wasn't as brave as those who didn't escape.

Lemony Snicket is now available in Netflix . How did it happen? "It took a long time. Many shocked people were in the halls of Netflix discussion room," Snicket says.

In the era of Netflix, Snicket says he is still old fashioned. He loves index cards and continues to write on notebooks and legal pads.

Snicket says his son was initially hesitant to read his book and now he reads with sensitivity. In general it's good for authors to not challenge readers when they say they have read your book, he says.

11:55 am

Meghna Gulzar takes questions from audience.

What would she change, if she wants to release Filhaal now? Not the content, but a better filmmaking, maybe, Meghna says.

If the reality is not entertaining enough, nothing can be recreated to be entertaining in fiction, she says.

11:45 am

Back to the Gulzar on Gulzar session, Baradwaj Rangan is at awe with a scene in Meghna Gulzar's Filhaal where the male protagonist says "We are pregnant." Mr. Rangan says it was new in Hindi cinema. Meghna's reply: "That's how it works when a woman writes dialogues!"

What is Gulzar saab favourite Meghna Gulzar movie? Meghna confesses she never posed that question to her father. "I think he is proud of Filhaal. "

Baradwaj Rangan: You are making a movie on acid attack survivor and you are casting one of the beautiful actress.

Meghna: You won't be seeing Deepika you know. You will be seeing a disfigured Deepika. There is an uncanny similarity between the survivor and Deepika.

Meghna says she wants the world to know this is what the violence does to a person.

11:40 am


11:30 am

At The Hindu Pavillion a session on Beyond Indian English: A time for bhashas is underway.

J Devika, Kannan Sundaram and Vivek Shanbhag are in conversation with Urvashi Butalia on translating Indian works to English.

Vivek Shanbhag: Humour is so embedded in the language itself so that is hard to capture in the translation. When a book is translated even the things unsaid are translated. It is a mindset that if it is published in English its a success but when you look at the numbers in the market, the Indian market is far superior. This mindset has to change.

J. Devika: What matters really is the essence of the work that is being translated. You translate so that you can travel in time and space. Publishers in Kerala do not take sufficient efforts to make these books public. I insist on translating stories that challenge the forms. What matters really is the essence of the work that is being translated.

Kannan Sundaram: The book gets more attention only if it first gets published in the US or UK.

Urvashi Butalia: Translation of Indian books rarely made it into the International market or even within the Indian market.

11:25 am


11:10 am

The second session for the day is Gulzar on Gulzar , Meghna Gulzar in conversation with Baradwaj Rangan.

Meghna, the daughter of poet and lyricist Gulzar, is a poet and filmmaker. Her latest Hindi film Raazi earned critical acclaim. Baradwaj Rangan is an award-winning film critic.

Meghna has published the biography of Gulzar Because He   Is... which explores the journey of Gulzar. Ms. Meghna tells Mr. Rangan says she understood the enormity of the adulation her father had only when she was a teenager.  She also says she started seeing Gulzar's work as a filmmaker only after Macchis .

On her parents' relationship, Meghna says her father would say they are not separated but live apart so that their elbow don't touch each other! She says, in the hindsight, it helped her from staying away from have to go through squabbling parents.

Meghna's favourite Gulzar lyrics? Tough question posed to her but after deliberation she picks Ae Watan from Raazi.

Meghna says her father was disappointed with Hu Tu Tu since the theatre version was very different from what he imagined. It was editied without his knowledge. "It is unfair. It is his work of art. You wouldn't do it to a painting,' Meghna explains.

11:00 am

Former Union Minister and journalist Arun Shourie at the The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.

Former Union Minister and journalist Arun Shourie at the The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.


Time for audience to ask questions. Arun Shourie once said BJP is Congress plus Cow. Now, a member says Congress is BJP minus the cow.

Mr. Shourie says BJP is now destroyed as a party. It is about one and three fourth person and one fourth blogger, Mr. Shourie says referring to Amit Shah, Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley.

A member accuses the panel being one sided. Mr. Ram disagrees. Mr. Shourie says not taking side is lazy journalism. Never be neutral is Mr. Shourie's advice to people.

And that brings us to the end of the first session.

10:55 am

Sanjay Pinto asks the panellists about political press conferences. R. Jagannathan feels the press conferences in India, unlike the US is not a place to ask uneasy questions and politicians don't prefer giving exclusive interviews to journalists who pose uneasy questions!

Mr. Shourie says the one person who consistently works for the opposition unity is Mr. Modi!

Will right to recall is the way forward? Mr. Ram's answer is negative. Let's stay in the present parliamentary system and implement it well.

10:40 am

At the 2019 Elections and the Future of Indian Democracy session, Sanjay Pinto asks will the upcoming election be a presidential style one between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi.

Mr. Ram says it is unlikely. Mr. Gandhi should not be prjected as the PM candidate. "It will be a recipe to disaster. " Mr. Ram observes Mr. Gandhi and the Congress has been sensible so far in not staking such a claim.

On DMK chief M.K. Stalin naming Mr. Gandhi as the PM candidate, Mr. Ram says the DMK is probably one of the few regional parties with no national ambitions. They have always supported their national coalition partner.

Mr. Shourie has a word of advice for coalition partners: Don't talk about each other, talk to each other. He says a prospective PM candidate must be someone who does not have the qualities of Narendra Modi!

Priya Sahgal feels the halo behind Narendra Modi appears fading but the BJP will fight this election projecting Mr. Modi. She says an anti-BJP alliance cannot ignore Congress, since it is the only pan-Indian party now. On the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh sans Congress, Ms. Sahgal feels Akhilesh Yadav could think Rahul Gandhi as his potential contender. Mr. Yadav's target is not 2019 or 2022 but the PM seat, she observes.

10:25 am

Arun Shourie, N Ram, Priya Sahgal and R Jagannathan in conversation with Sanjay Pinto at The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.

Arun Shourie, N Ram, Priya Sahgal and R Jagannathan in conversation with Sanjay Pinto at The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.


The first session of the day begins. 2019 Elections and the Future of Indian Democracy will see Arun Shourie, N Ram, Priya Sahgal and R Jagannathan in conversation with Sanjay Pinto.

Sanjay Pinto, the former journalist who is now an advocate, kick starts the debate with the recently introduced 10 per cent quota for the economically poor . Business journalist R Jagannathan agrees that the Bill has opened the pandora's box but says he favours such a move. Is it an election gimmick? "Al government's get nervous in the fifth year," he says.  Mr. Ram feels the move could backfire as many communities are not happy with the Bill.

Why move Supreme Court on Rafale? Mr. Shourie blames the media for not following-up serious issues. Mr. Shourie says there is much to learn from Gandhiji's words. "Keep your demands simple." He says the verdict is completely plagarised from the government note. "In such cases, we are not on trial, but the court is on trial," he adds.

Mr. Ram agrees with Mr. Shourie. He remembers how every media was willing to get information on Bofors unlike today. Today, TV channels are carrying out only sting operations in the name of investigative journalism. Mr. Ram points out that defamation suits could be a reason why media shies away from investigative journalism. "I think we should be prepared," Mr. Shourie says.

Ms. Sahgal of NewsX recalls how an audience was made to sit down at an event attended by a Union Minister. She says the Minister allowed the member to raise the question and asserted, "Now sit down! The way I allowed you to speak shows there is no intolerance!" She points out it is nothing but subtle coercion.

10:00 am

In the era of intolerance, don't ever give up: Arun Shourie

Arun Shourie at The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai.

Arun Shourie at The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai.


Arun Shourie delivers his keynote address. He starts the address with a lighter note. He says he is the only Editor to be dismissed twice and enjoys three clean-chits from the CBI.

There is a darkening cloud of intolerance, Mr. Shourie says and narrates his own experience. When Mr. Shourie recalls Atal Bihari Vajpayee's words: "the answer for a book is a better book." The former Prime Minister said these words when the Shiv Sena workers unleashed violence in Mumbai against a book purportedly critical of Maratha King Chattrapati Shivaji Mahraj.

Mr. Shouri also expresses concerns on coercion. Though no mainstream media journalist was subjected to violence, there is fear among the journalists, he observes. The mainstream media is silent (against intolerance) - not because of any legitimate fear but greed, he adds.

The assaulter knows nothing will happen to him, Mr. Shourie says. This is all dressed-up at ideology, which is not ideology but thuggery, he says.

In such a time, the authors have edge over the journalists. Books have more shelf life, he adds.

The industrialists are silent. They are also afraid to speak up. "We have to help each other," Mr. Shourie says pointing out at the lack of media space for sedition cases against regional journalists and RTI activists.

When such an attempt is made to shut down truth, writers should defeat the attempt by giving up copyright and allowing their work to be published by anyone, says Mr. Shourie.

"Don't give up. Bullies are with bull heads. See what is happening in Rafale. We keep up the pressure and the rulers have proved our point right," he says.

9:55 am

Mukund Padbanabhan, Editor, The Hindu , introduces Arun Shourie, the Guest of Honour.  "We are the only mainstream English newspaper that has a full-fleged literary supplement," Mr. Padmanabhan says.

Eminent journalist and political commentator Arun Shourie is the Guest of Honour of today's festival. Mr. Shourie was the Minister of Disinvestment, Communications and Information Technology in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet.

 He has been an economist with the World Bank, and Editor of the Indian Express. He is widely regarded as the initiator of Investigative Journalism in India.

9:50 am

The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.

The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.


N. Ram, Chairman, The Hindu Publishing Group says the newspaper is secular in nature. Today, the freedom of speech has come under attack, he notes.

Laws have been found inadequate to tackle freedom of speech, especially the freedom of media, he says. Elections are not far away. Hope the elections deliver a verdict that protects free speech, he says.

I would like to dedicate the Lit for Life festival for the cause of free speech, Mr. Ram says in his brief address.

9:45 am

Lit for Life Festival Director Nirmala Lakshman, journalist Arun Shourie THG Chairman N. Ram, and The Hindu Editor Mukund Padmanabhan at the inauguration of the ninth edition of The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.

Lit for Life Festival Director Nirmala Lakshman, journalist Arun Shourie THG Chairman N. Ram, and The Hindu Editor Mukund Padmanabhan at the inauguration of the ninth edition of The Hindu Lit for Life in Chennai on Saturday.


The ninth edition of The Hindu Lit for Life begins. The festival's director Nirmala Lakshman delivers the inaugural address and introduces the festival. This festival strongly supports freedom of speech, she asserts.

9:40 am


9:30 am

Saturday's Lit for Life will feature prominent speakers such as Arun Shourie, N Ram, Priya Sahgal, R Jagannathan, Meghna Gulzar, Lemony Snicket, Audrey Truschke, Manisha Koirala and Nazia Erum among others.

There is also a session in Tamil on 'Governance A Responsibility' featuring C Mahendran, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, S Peter Alphonse and Thol Thirumavalavan in conversation with S Karthigaichelvan.

There is also The Hindu LFL children's fest for the budding litterateurs. Devika Cariapa will guide you in a travel through the magical realms of Indian archaeology, while Joeanna Rebello will take you through a virtual treasure hunt at a railway station. There is also an interactive session with Sharanya Manivannan.

The full schedule can be accessed here:

9:00 am

BYOB and rewards


Let’s face it: for all their well meaning and high brow conversations, most cultural and literary festivals are not the planet’s best friends.  The Hindu  Lit For Life is attempting to change that, taking steps towards becoming a zero-waste festival.

Bring Your Own Bag, Bottle and Bike to get rewarded at the festival venue! Brownie points if you take the public transport.

Zero Waste Lit For Life is a joint effort between the organisers of the festival and city-based NGO Chennai Kalai Theru Vizha.


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