Great Debates Ensue at 1st Day of Kalinga Literary Festival

In the sessions on “Imaging Odisha” and “Cultural Discourses from Odisha”, speakers had in-depth interaction on the evolution of the identity and imagination of Odisha and Odia. They also explored the Jagannath Cult and the new publications and how they represent and reflect the life in contemporary Odisha. The last session saw an interesting discussion on the alternative theater.

Report by Debadatta Dash, Bhubaneswar: Kalinga Literary Festival (KLF) was inaugurated by Chief Guest Hon’ble Industry and Mass Education Minister of Odisha, Shri Debi Prasad Mishra, Shri Priyadarshi Mishra, MLA Bhubaneswar, leading poet & thinker Shri Haraprasad Das, political leader Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar and the Key Note speaker Dr. Subramanian Swamy. Chief Coordinator, Shri Sangram Dhar welcomed the guests and Co-founder Shri Kamala Kanta Dash presented an account of the journey of Kalinga Literary Festival. Minister Debi Prasad Mishra complimented the team.
Political leader and former Union Minister Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar spoke on the journey of literature from colonial times to the independent India and how it has evolved from pessimistic tones to positive and optimistic tunes. Mr. Aiyar praised the focus of the KLF 2016 on the idea of literature and democracy and found it unique in the country.
Delivering the Key Note Address on the theme of Literature and Democracy at the Kalinga Literary Festival, political leader and Rajya Sabha MP, Dr. Subramanian Swamy spoke on the co-journey of Literature and Democracy since independence. Dr. Swamy divided the two major schools of literature that have bearing on the democratic journey of India. The first school which got active encouragement from the establishment came to be influenced by the left-wing thinking and the next school has emerged in recent decades that have come to be known as cultural nationalist school.
Responding to the national debates on freedom, creative freedom and democracy, he articulated that Indian Constitution is the supreme law of the land which has provisions for reasonable restrictions on freedom so as to maintain national unity, integration and promote peace and harmony. He advocated that this model of constitutional freedom can be applied to the interaction between literature and democracy. In this context he asked the audience and literary experts whether divisive literature can be allowed to be in circulation. He went on to suggest that literature can be a great engaging platform to promote democracy and articulate the need, desire and aspiration of people and especially focus on the grievances of the underprivileged. But he suggested that literature also needs to follow the constitutional guidelines on freedom of speech and warned that literature in any case must not encourage and promote extremism.
The session on Dialogue, Development and Democratic Spirit in Literature had great speakers like Arif Mohd. Khan, Rahul Pandita and Haraprasad Das and was ably moderated by Amitabh Behar. The session saw provocative ideas being discussed. The difference of opinion emerged on whether democracy and development go together and whether a writer has any responsibility in creating and sustaining the dialogue.
The session on Journey of Kalinga: Contemporary reflections by leading Odia writer Asit Mohanty, Subrat Prusty and Subhranshu Panda looked at the past of Odisha and how literature has evolved in the last centuries.  In the session on “Youth, Language and Emotions”, Satyanand Nirupam, Vineet Kumar, Kedar Mishra, Sangam Lahiry, Subhransu Panda, Arundhati Subramaniam and  Sujit Mohapatra saw the experts deal with emerging trends in the language used by the youth of today.
The special session on “Piyush Mishra in Conversation with Vineet Kumar” was the highlight of the post-lunch session. The session saw the young Vineet Kumar probing, instigating and provoking the wittiest best of Piyush Mishra. The interaction was filled with daily life experiences, love, laughter and humour. The poetry reading and singing of Husna by Piyush Mishra was enjoyed a lot by the audience.
In the session on “Is Romanticism Dead in contemporary Literature?” the speakers included Prof Purushottam Agrawal, Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty, Bibhuti Patnaik,  and Jayanta Mohapatra, Ajay Swain and Prakash Mohapatra. The session discussed and debated whether romanticism as an idea and a trend in literature is continuing. The conclusion was that romanticism will continue to thrive as it is the byproduct of dreams that people see and follow.

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