By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 24 Nov: On the second day of Valley of Words Literature & Arts Festival here today, some books were discussed in interesting sessions and the authors participated. One such discussion was on the While another interesting session was in respect of Jairam Ramesh discussing about his book ‘Intertwined Lives; PN Haksar& Indira Gandhi’ with SekharRaha with Mark Tully chairing the session.
The influential and often controversial bureaucrat PN Haksar and his equation with the late Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was the topic of discussion in reference to Ramesh’s new book “Intertwined Lives”. It was very intriguing for the audience to delve deeper and know that Indira Gandhi – the “Iron Lady” of India had so many tumultuous phases in her life, which have been highlighted in the book, many of the incidents have been relatively unknown hitherto.
Ramesh discussed on the ‘policy of nationalisation’ adopted by Gandhi under the heavy influence of Haksar, claiming that it was most definitely political propaganda. On the insistence of Mark Tully, the gathering discussed the 1991 liberalisation at length in an engaging and informed dialogue. Ramesh further asserted that the Indira Gandhi of 1966 was an uncertain and insecure woman, and that was the time when she relied most heavily on Haksar. Tully questioned him on whether it would have been better to normalise the relations between India and China by appointing an ambassador to Beijing sooner – which Haksar had been strictly against. Jairam Ramesh referred to the constant attempts of China to arm the separatists and militants on our north-east borders. He added that Haksar talked repeatedly of commitment, which the panellists thought was a double-edged sword. Shekhar quoted the evidence in the book which indicated that he tried to influence the judiciary’s decision in favour of Gandhi. Certainly, Haksar, although a very controversial figure, was a greatly influential and important personage in Indian history and politics. The session ended with some extensive questions which were followed by a book signing and photography session.
Another book discussed today was “English Medium Myths”, with author SankrantSanu in conversation with Colonel DPK Pillay. Sanu talked about the myths and stereotypes of the English language in India. He further discussed the manner in which the current Indian education (which had continued as designed by Lord Macaulay during colonial times according to Sanu) had led to the construction of a certain class marker around English, leading to the deterioration of the ancient education systems which were conducted in the now increasingly obscure Sanskrit. Answering the questions of Col. Pillay about certain anecdotes and facts given in the book, Sanuexplained that the human brain works more efficiently when the mother tongue was used: “Brain circuits are more in sync when speaking in the native tongue”, he stressed, which was the reason why most of the Nobel laureates in Literature and Science were the ones who did almost all of their education in their native language – for example in Japan. Unfortunately in India, a person couldn’t even plead in his own native language in the Supreme Court. The responsive audience, with whom the session resonated, raised questions about how India ought to endeavour to revive Sanskrit, to which Sanuanswered that a language could survive as long as it got the flux of a new relevant vocabulary. He emphasised that an improvisation of Sanskrit could be done by designing specific courses which would encourage the students to involve it in their daily lives. He also assured the audience that it was indeed possible that in some years that India could welcome Sanskrit as a scientific language, in the same way that Israel had accepted Hebrew – a language which many would consider to have been even more obsolete than Sanskrit at a time. On this hopeful note, the session ended with author signings and personal interactions.
Yet another launch today was a book by Bharat Jhunjhunwala very interestingly titled, ‘Common Prophets of the Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus’. Author Jhunjhunwala discussed the book with Robin Gupta and Dr DivyaSaxena. Gupta started the session by introducing Bharat Jhunjhunwala, calling his work as the outcome of the commendable and painstaking efforts. He also spoke about the fine details present in his book, making him a remarkably prominent author. The session was followed by the presentation of Jhunjhunwala on his book, in which he binds all the faiths together. The session turned out to be very interesting when he started sharing about the similarities in the genealogy of the Hindu and Christian mythology. He talked about how only the name was changed but the stories remained same. He further added that the stories of the Biblical Cain and Hindu lord Indra, Abraham and Ram, Moses and Krishna were all parallel to each other. Talking about the geographical comparisons, he explained the geography of Pushkar and its relation with the Garden of Eden. An interesting fact he presented to the audience was that “Ajmer” is an amalgamation of the names Ajay-Meru. He says,” They all occurred in the same chronological order and in the same period of time”. Saxena talked about the linguistic similarities which she found in Jhunjhunwala’s book. Bharat Jhunjhunwala also threw some light on the two types of religious conflicts which take place not only within sematic order but also between The Hindus and the other sematic religions. Through his book Bharat Jhunjhunwala talked about unity where reading Hindu text in light of the Bible and vice versa can reform the world. The discussion was then made open to the audience.