An Eclectic Mix of Literature and Culture at the INDIA PAVILION in Paris Book Festival 2022

New Delhi : Paris Book Festival witnessed a broad and diverse range of literary and cultural activities at the India Pavilion. India was the guest of honour country in the Paris Book Festival.

Day 1 started with a cultural program ‘Morning Ragas – Melodies of India’ performed by classical vocalist Ms. Aparna Shreedhar which was followed by a  discourse on Cultural Communication to Children through Translation. Chaired by Prof Govind Prasad Sharma, Chairman, NBT with panelists Shri Yuvraj Malik, Shri Suddhasattwa Basu, Ms. Gaelle Benacchio, Smt Sudha Murty, Ms Valerie Goudart, the discussion revolved around the ten Indian books for children published by NBT-India which was translated in French. The session was moderated by Shri Kumar Vikram, Senior Editor NBT.

In the second session of the day, panellists Smt Sudha Murty, Shri E.N. Nandakumar, Shri Chamu Krishna Shastri, Mr Daniel Negers discussed the multi-lingual and multi-cultural dynamic that the Indian society offers to a writer. The session was moderated by Shri Sudeep Nagarkar.

Next session focused on Women Writers and their Creative Sphere in which Ms. Alka Saraogi, Ms. Kumud Sharma and Ms. Kathleen Scarboro talked about thecreative work being done by and issues concerning women writers.

The two epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, are the two pillars of Indian civilisation and have always given the audience a new insight and understanding about human life. In the session on “Interpreting Indian Epics for the Contemporary Readers/Audience”, Shri Anand Neelakanthan, Shri Vikram Sampath and Acharya Balkrishnan discussed the various characters of these epics and their relevance today. Shri Jitendra Kumar Soni moderated the session.

In the session on“Emerging Trends in Children’s Literature”,panellistsMs Sudha Murty, Shri Devendra Mewari, Shri Suddhasattwa Basu, Ms Priyanka Agarwal Mehta and Ms Valerie Gaudart discussed about the popular and upcoming trends in children’s literature. The session was moderated by Shri Vikas Dave.

Session on ‘Mahatma Gandhi and Romain Rolland: A 21st Century Perspective’ with two distinguished panellists Shri Vijay Singh and Ms. Christine Jordis who have spent their life in being cultural and literary bridges between India and France, took up some of the ideas exchanged between Gandhi and Rolland and how they impinge upon the contemporary reader. It was moderated by Shri Birad Yajnik, a noted Gandhi scholar and curator of Gandhi Museums in India and abroad.

The next session was a brief presentation on the theme ‘Indian Influences on Art and Architecture of Europe’ by Ms Nupur Tron, art conservator and promoter based in Brussels, followed by an interaction with Ms Tanishka Kachru, art historian and Senior Faculty of NID, Ahmedabad. It was moderated by Shri Jonak Das, Senior Faculty, Exhibition Designs, NID.

The last literary session for the day was readings of brief excerpts/texts by Indian authors Alka Saraogi, ShriGourahari Das, Shri Rajesh Kumar Vyas, Shri Jitendra Kumar Soni and ShriVikas Dave in Hindi, Odia, Rajasthani, etc. Ms. Carolyn Pao was the co-ordinator for the session.

The day ended with two cultural programmes, namely, ‘Ethereal to Eternal’ a Mohiniattam performance by Ms. Brigitte Chatiginer; and From the Pages of Naatyashastra a Bharatnatyam solo by Ms. Mallika Thalak.

Day 2 for the India Pavilion at the Paris Book Festival 2022 started with a cultural program ‘Morning Ragas – Journey to Divine’ performed by Carnatic singer Ms Bhavana Pradyumna. The first literary event at the India Pavilion was a  discussion on Reflection of COVID Pandemic in Art and Design with panellists Shri Suddhasattwa Basu, Shri Jonak Das, Shri Hanif Kureshi and Ms Martine le Coz. The Session also saw the launch of the book LE COEUR BATTANT DU RAJASTHAN – Rahis Bharti et Dhoad(Heart beat of Rajasthan – Rahis Bharti – DHOAD)authored by Martine le Coz in French. Prof. Govind Prasad Sharma, Chairman, NBT, India released the book. The session was moderated by Ms Tanishka Kachru.

In the second session of the day, panellists Shri Devendra Mewari, Ms Priyanka Agarwal Mehta, Shri Birad Yajnik discussed climate change and how it has been addressed by contemporary writers in their books. The session was moderated by Shri Jitendra Kumar Soni.

Next was a session focused on‘Social Media as ChangeAgent’in whichpanellists Shri Gourahari Das, Shri Siddhartha Shankar Gautam, Shri Binay Kumar Singh and Ms Bhavna Pradyumna discussed the role of social media in bringing positive change in the society. The session was moderated by Ms Priyanka Agarwal Mehta.

Celebrating 75 glorious years of India’s Independence, the next session India@75 and Vision of New India talked about the achievements of India as a modern independent nation, and the vision of New India. The tone of the session was set by the Key-Note by the Hon’ble Ambassador of India Shri Jawed Ashraf. Tradition of debate, pluralism and diversity in views, thought and speech has been the defining principle of Indian ethos and our democratic values. India remains resilient and stronger, he said. The session was chaired by Prof. Govind Prasad Sharma, Chairman, NBT.

Next was a conversation between Acharya Balkrishna and Shri Chamu Krishna Shastri where they discussed the opulence, practicality and accessibility of Sanskrit and its role in modern times. It was followed by a panel discussion on India’s Linguistic Traditions with panellists Shri Rajesh Vyas, Shri Sudeep Nagarkar, Shri E.N. Nandkumar and Shri Gourahari Das.

In context of NEP 2020 and on occasion of World Book & Copyright Day, a discussion on Internationalisation of Education and Role of Books was held in which Shri Yuvraj Malik, Director NBT withProf. Govind Prasad Sharma, Chairman NBT talked about possibilities of an international curriculum to train students and young readers as true global citizens to reach their optimal potential and the role of books in achieving this goal. Ms Shreerupa Mitra delivered the Key-Note address.

In the session ‘Beyond Guest Country: Institutionalising India-France Publishing Ties,’ Prof. Govind Prasad Sharma, Chairman NBT, in Chair and panellists Shri Yuvraj Malik Director NBT, Shri E.N. Nandakumar, Mr Vincent Montagne and Ms Annie Montaut discussed about the takeaways of India’s participation in the Paris Book Festival 2022 as the Guest of Honour Country.

Launch of the Book Chandarnagor: A Burg of the Moon written and Illustrated by Suddhasatwa Basu followed by a discussion on Legacy of French Culture in India with panellists Shri Yuvraj Malik, Director NBT, Shri Suddhasattwa Basu, Shri Anand Neelakanthan, and Ms Laurent Goldstein. The session was moderated By Shri Kumar Vikram.

The day ended with three cultural programmes, namely, ‘The Temple footsteps’, an Odissi dance performance by Ms Mahina Khanum; ‘Once Upon a Time,’ a Puppet show by Ms Sabrina Arusam; and  a Bharatnatyam classical dance concert.

Day 3 began with a Kathak dance performance by Ms Sharmila Sharma. It was followed by a session on Sri Aurobindo and his philosophy in contemporary times with panellists Shri Anand Neelakanthan, Shri Kiran Vyas and Mr Olivier Pironneau. The session was moderated by Shri Vikram Sampath.

Next session, Literary Diversity: India and France Perspectives, discussed how literature from the two cultures share common perspectives and also appreciates social diversity. The session had Shri Rajesh Kumar Vyas, Shri Jitendra Kumar Soni, Shri Sudeep Nagarkar and Ms Gaelle Benacchio with Ms Kumud Sharma as moderator.

Next was a talk on Science and Ayurveda wherein Acharya Balkrishna discussed integration of traditional knowledge systems like Ayurveda and modern scientific evidence-based medicine followed by a panel discussion on Indian Knowledge System: What it Offers to the World with panellists Prof Govind Prasad Sharma, Chairman NBT, Acharya Balkrishnan, Shri Chamu Shastry and Shri Yuvraj Malik Director NBT. French edition of a book ‘Science of Ayurveda’ authored by Acharya Balakrishna was also launched at the India Pavilion by Prof Govind Prasad Sharma, Chairman, National Book Trust, India. Shri Yuvraj Malik, Shri Chamu Shashtri & Shri Shailendra (Hindi- French interpreter) were also present on this occasion.

In a discussion on ‘Rivers as Carriers of Cultures’,panellists Acharya Balkrishnan and Mr Olivier Germain Thomas discussed the role of Ganga as an important agent of culture.

A session revolving around the importance of writing on, and about history, ‘Past is Always Present’ wasorganised with Shri Vikram Sampath, Shri Siddhartha Shankar Gautam and Mr Douglas Gressieux, moderated by Shri Binay Kumar Singh.

The cultural programmes for the day included a Manipuri dance performance by Ms Angela Sofia Sterzer, a Kathak dance performance by Ms Isabelle Anna and a performance of Sufi music with Shri Amrat Hussain on tabla and vocals.

The India Pavilion which has been designed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad (NID), the Design Partners of NBT-India for the event, is representing the works of 65 Indian publishers with more than 15 digital and physical exhibitions displaying over 400 books published in various Indian languages.

The Physical Exhibitions at the India Pavilion included Collective Exhibit of Books from India, Exhibit of Indian Children’s Books Translated into French, Exhibition of Books under India@75 Series, National Heroes of India: A Representative Exhibition, Exhibit of Books of Authors visiting as part of the official India Delegation, Exhibit of UNESCO Documents on India, Exhibition of Special Edition of ‘Chandernagor: A Burg of the Moon’ Written and Illustrated by Suddhasattwa Basu on French Legacy in India, Digital Exhibitions on the Sidelines, Gandhi and Rolland: Exchanging Letters and Ideas, Reading Spaces in India: A Representative Chronology, This Earth of Ours: Looking at Biodiversity, Environment and Climate Change in Children’s Literature in India, PM-YUVA Mentorship Scheme for Young Authors, National Education Policy 2020, and Snippets from French Books on Indian Art, Culture, Painting, Literature, etc.

The India Pavilion during the Paris Book Festival 2022 was set up at the Grand Palais Ephémère, Paris, France from Thursday, April 21 to Sunday, April 24, 2022 from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.

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