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Vice President Hamid Ansari calls Times Lit Fest Delhi a people's festival
Times of India, November 28, 2015

On a mild Saturday afternoon, the Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari descended on the lawns of the Maidens Hotel at Civil Lines, to inaugurate the first edition of Times Lit Fest Delhi 2015.

Dressed in his customary crisp bandhgala, Mr Ansari reminded the assembly of writers of their primary responsibility to society: "The writers present here are the inheritors of a very old, rich and multifaceted tradition - the role of inducing sanity in an increasingly maddening world," he said, reiterating that this was a role that remained critical in this day and age.

A well-developed literary tradition is the hallmark of every civilization, he pointed out, adding that India was immensely fortunate in this regard because it claimed not only one of the oldest literary traditions in the world, but an unmatched diversity in a multitude of languages and cultural patterns. "This is reflective of our plural ethos that has accommodated and enriched a wide variety of impulses and influences," he acknowledged.

It was an elegant affair that had the Vice President unveil the Times Lit Fest Delhi official logo. The occasion was, Mr Ansari admitted not in the vein of inaugurations he was accustomed to, where a ribbon was invariably required to be cut. "This event, I'm given to understand is a people's festival, covering the entire spectrum of ideas from scholarship to social media, high art to street expressions, from dastan-goi to budding novelists, and from film to sports. It aspires to be the bridge between the ivory tower and the town hall."

In times when tolerance is the subject du jour, the Vice President pointed out that the sense of unity that pervades the fabric of Indian society is intangible, reflective of the continuum of the Indian literary tradition from the classic, to the modern and post-modern, in prose, poetry in the written and oral form.

And while India has nurtured a long and prosperous literary diversity, Delhi, its principal city has been a crucible of multiplicity. Raj Jain's CEO, The Times Group, brought home the fact that the city has a rich literary heritage of which Amir Khusrav, Ghalib, Amrita Pritam, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and others are contributors. It was fitting, he noted, that the city of literature should have an ambitious literary festival.

C K Sharma, Business Head of the D S Group, whose brand Rajnigandha is the primary sponsor of the Times Lit Fest Delhi, was of the view that literature helps decode a nation's social and economic reality. "Young people should be encouraged to come to literature," he said, quoting Nadine Gordimer's observation that writing makes sense of life.

Vice President Hamid Ansari calls Times Lit Fest Delhi a people's festival