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VOX Populi: Confluence from the Depths & Literature as Art Form to Enrich Culture

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VoW 2020 : 5 weeks to go!

By DR AMNA

Reflection on issues of polity is important and situating the ideas involved in various aspects of the topics is a fine art. Literature has an important place in chalking out fine lines of the deliberative process. In the same vein, to appreciate and sensitize the listeners and speakers alike on contrasting visions on the prism also comes in the flow. Taking this perspective towards a reality, an apt example of it is Vox Populi – the parliamentarians’ debates- an integral and much sought after segment of Valley of Words International Literature Festival.

Every year as the preparation for the festival commences, the theme for Vox Populi is curated keeping into account variables like significance of the notion, that how it bridges the realms between theories, ideas and reality, and that how diversity of ideas lead to confluence of solution. As that’s an important purpose of arts and literature in society- to lead towards new horizons of convergence and act as a junction of a binding adhesive.

The enthusiastic participation witnessed from Parliamentarians to several audiences is indeed an encouraging benchmark, to prove home the point that creativity and innovations in thoughts pave way for distinct niche. For the last three years, Vox Populi has been one of the most popular sessions at Valley of Words. Parliamentarians engaged in a freewheeling debate on an issue which is politically contested, and the multiple shades, opinions and perspectives are brought to the table.

In 2018, Vox Populi put forth the debate on the issue that in the opinion of house, the “Best Debates Occur Outside The Parliament?!” In this topic, within the alloted time span, related topics like analysis of parliament as an arena of debate, contrasting media reporting of representative chambers, to bigger canvas of whether can deliberation be reduced to constitutional structures, can we ignore thought process within procedural aspects like Parliamentary committees, amongst others, were taken into account.
One could sense ethos of coalescence where different perspectives from parliamentarians were building a bigger picture of cementing unity in ideas.

Continuing with the potentiality of linking ideas, in 2019, the topic “English is an Indian Language?!” also received great response. The theme highlighted that while there is considerable acceptance of English in the world of commerce, IT, political economy and jurisprudence, the acceptance of English as an Indian language is still a question mark.

The pandemic and related halt at economic and social Intiatives did not halt the innovative approach in ideas that Vox Populi attempts to strive for. This year in ‘expanded and revamped’ hybrid edition of the festival, Vox Populi is working on bringing the best of nuanced thought on an important topic. This year, the session is also a tribute to late DP Tripathi ji. and active participant in these debates. The subject chosen – was close to DP Tripathi ji– for he would often talk about the asymmetry of political power amongst the states of India. The frequent creation of new states and Union Territories, besides the unfulfilled aspirations of socio cultural sub regions will now come up for consideration under the title in : Restructuring of States: Inevitable or Justifiable!?

The deliberative exercise over several topics in Vox Populi over the years has worked to prove the point that literature and arts are an epitome of soft power of nation. The very process of engagement in the endeavor shows Multidimensionality of power of ideas and words – namely to join the Discordants.

The debates in Vox Populi have also proved an important point that literature has an educative and emotive role. The fact that boundaries of erudition in true sense lie beyond the curriculum, & that how literature and art contain the potential of engaging people of all to look beyond the immediate, to place ‘facts’ in perspective, to question the ‘why’ ,to engage in lateral thinking and explore options that have the potential of making the world, the Nation, the society- a better place.

Dr. Amna is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science at SPM College, University of Delhi