The Hyderabad Literary Festival moved into serious territory on the second day with debates and panel discussions questioning the idea of dictatorship, malaise of corruption and the shrinking literary space.
Early in the day, former minister and author Arun Shourie put the nation on the couch as it were, and listed out traits in followers and leaders and how it is impacting the country.
“Be careful what you wish for. We were sick of the corruption and we wanted change but now the change is no longer so attractive,” said Mr. Shourie who lampooned and by turns targeted Narendra Modi, Donald Trump invoking Mussolini and Indira Gandhi.
“The Prime Minister in his first address from the Red Fort promised a law that would ensure trial in one year if the accused is a minister or a legislator. Where is the law? Don’t go by the words of what the leader says. Find out his past actions, past words to discover his character,” said Mr. Shourie adding: “Donald Trump declared himself bankrupt six times. That’s his character.”
Mr Shourie did a bit of psychoanalysis of leaders: “We should be on guard and look for traces of Narcissism, victimhood and Machiavellian thinking in our leaders. And then we should look at followers: Are they weak men, compromised men, willing henchmen, salivating men drooling for the next job? Nemesis is written into this kind of leadership where the followers cannot hurt you but they can not help you either.”
The huge audience burst into laughter when Mr Shourie ended his talk with a caveat: “Don’t think I am talking about our current leadership.”
Later in the day, The Hindu journalist and author Josy Joseph spoke about how the fight against black money is a sham.
“We have become a deeply amoral society where we are not able to figure out what is right or wrong. I have written the book ( A Feast of Vultures ) based on the perception that everything is for sale in India,” said Mr. Joseph.
“I am waiting for the good fight. Our country had periods of doubt like emergency and communal riots but at the end of it there is a ray of hope. I have that hope the huge number of young people in our country will fight for a change,” the senior journalist said.
“The India Against Corruption, Jallikattu and what’s happening in Visakhapatnam are curtain raisers about the restless anger of our young people,” said Mr. Joseph.
“I condemn the attack on Sanjay Leela Bhansali. It is uncalled for. You cannot attack a creative person based on guesswork,” said actor Prakash Raj during a Q and A session at the Hyderabad Literary Festival. Film maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali was assaulted in Jaipur on the sets of the movie Padmavati by a fringe group on Friday. “How do you know what is the plot of the movie? This is an attack based on assumptions. It is an attack on creativity. We cannot let this happen?” said Mr. Raj.