Kochi Lit-Fest : Shaping a Creative Milieu
Carving out a unique and irrefutable space in the cultural realm of Kerala, Kochi International Book Festival completes its 20 epoch-making years as the curtain came down on the ten-day long event on December 11
T Satisan from Kochi
Kochi International Book Festival (KIBF) completed 20 successful and epoch-making years when the curtain came down on the 20th ten day long Festival on December 11, 2016. To mark the 20th Festival twenty lamps were lighted by twenty VIPs from the fields of literature and culture during the inaugural ceremony on December 2, 2016. Swami Darshanananda Saraswathi, Prof MK Sanoo, Dr M Leelavathi, Prof Thuravoor Vishwambharan, Poet Rameshan Nair, Adv TPM Ibrahim Khan, Sacred Heart College Principal Fr Prashanth Palakkappilli, Former VC and Kerala PSC Chairman Dr KS Radhakrishnan, Aruna Jithwani, Justice Sukumaran, Prof Thomas Mathew and former ABVP Organising Secretary KG Venugopal were some among them. The formal inauguration was performed by 103 years old famous Kathakali artist Guru Chemancherry Kunjiraman Nair. He received the memento from former Union Minister Prof KV Thomas MP. Guru took couple of Kathakali steps while receiving it. He, admitting that he is not an orator, wished every success to arts and books. Senior Congress leader Prof. Thomas said, KIBF is an example of good ventures with widespread participation cutting across party lines. He remembered RSS Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohan Bhagavath who exchanged pleasantries with him when they met in airport some time back. EN Nandakumar, general convener of KIBF from its very inception, presided over the function.
What is the major contribution of the KIBF to Kerala in general and Kochi in particular since last 19 years?
Provident Fund Commissioner VP Joy IAS reminisced the launch of KIBF while he was the District Collector in Kochi (Ernakulam). CPM leader John Fernandez MLA lauded the KIBF activists who have been running the show since the last 20 years as a life mission. Coir Board Chairman CP Radhakrishnan ex-MP expressed that some are born as intellectuals; but anyone can be intelligent by acquiring knowledge through books. Dr G Prabha, director of Sanskrit movie ‘Ishti” was felicitated by Guru Chemencherry. “Ishti” was selected as the opening movie in the recently concluded Goa Film Festival. Prabha said, the formation of linguistic states promote blind linguistic craze; it quite often questions the identity of the languages; ‘unity in diversity’ is defeated.
Senior BJP leader and veteran lawyer Adv PS Sreedharan Pillai delivered the keynote address. He explained the banning of Islamic Encyclopedia picturing Kashmir as a Pakistani territory and the consequent close down of the Kozhikode Book Festival initiated by Jnanapeetha laureate MT Vasudevan Nair. He shared the pride in KIBF’s completion of 20 years since its launch; it keeps on growing. The audience, constituted by the prominent citizens, itself proves the recognition the organisers’ command. He said, books and reading do not die at all. He expressed anxiety over the increasing cyber crimes in Kerala. He wished for the KIBF statewide spread shortly.
Twenty Veena performers led by Chithra Subramaniam presented a Veena Concert in connection with the 20th Festival. It was followed by Bharathanatyam.
As a new feather in its cap, KIBF organised a new venture, Kochi Literature Fest (KLF) this time along with the KIBF. Several writers from all over Bharath graced the Fest with their luminous presence and wisdom-packed talks. The programmes were conducted in three different venues. KLF was inaugurated by nonagenarian and first Jnanpeetha laureate in Sanskrit Dr Satyavratha Shasthri. Well known writer Amish Tripathi, Akademi award winner and KLF director C Radhakrishnan, former Ambassador TP Sreenivasan, VP Dhananjayan, Sashishankar, Prakashbabu and Haridas participated. Dr Shasthri said, literature is a spiritual pilgrimage. Bharat always had civilised population. Valmitki is always on top of any literature in the globe. Ours is the land of Kalidas.
A seminar on “the concept of nation in Sindhi-Malayalam literature” was conducted under KLF. RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah-Prachar Pramukh J Nandakumar was the chief guest. Nandakumar said ‘Rashtra is not the equivalent of ‘nation’ in English. It can not be translated into any other language’. He added, Sindh is the birthplace of Vedas and Upanishads, the land of the Rishis who sacrificed their lives for others. Dr Vanaja, Prem Thalani, Dr MM Unnikrishnan, Prof Aruna Jethwani and Dr Raviprakash Tekchandani spoke on the occasion. Dr Chandani said, writers of all languages should join hands ignoring the borders of religion and politics.
Another seminar was on “nationalism in Malayalam literature.” Seminar opined that Malayalam literature is rich with the writers who write in Malayalam but uphold nationalism in every work. Dr Raviprakash Tekchandani, Dr MJ Jayashree, Prof CN Retnam and Dr Ambika Nair participated in the seminar.
A programme was conducted in the main venue to felicitate Prof MK Sanoo, a teacher par excellence and acclaimed critic on the occasion of his navathi (turning 90 years). Pradesh Congress Committee President VM Sudheeran presented the memento to Sanoo Master. It was followed by a seminar on ‘Keralam @ 60.’ BJP state intellectual cell convener TG Mohandas, K Sasidharan Master, KL Mohana Varma, Adv ND Premachandran, MK Harikumar, Adv. Shaleena and Prakashbabu addressed. Mohandas said, despite growth and development Kerala lacks self confidence. So the Keralites go for excessive bhakthi (worship), liquor, astrology and gambling. Sudheeran inaugurated the Hindi book exhibition of Dakshin Bharath Hindi Prachar Sabha.
New Indian Express editorial director Prabhu Chawla spoke on the “Media Vigilance and National Security.” Chawla said, nation and nationalism are alien to communist liberalists. He felicitated former Janmabhumi editor and well known author P Narayanan for his total contribution to journalism. He also felicitated the winners of media awards instituted by KIBF. Narayanan, BJP spokesman MS Kumar, Gopakumar, T Satisan, award winners and Sasikumar spoke on the occasion.
Bhagini Niveditha’s sesquicentennial birthday was observed in KIBF venue. Dr. Renthidev Sen Guptha, Swami Nandadmajanandaji Maharaj, Swami Bhadreshanandaji Maharaj, Dr M Lakshmikumari, Congress MLA Eldos Kunnappili and Pravachika Swamini Sumedha Prana Mataji spoke on the occasion.
“Balamani Amma Puraskara Sabha” has been the prestigious highlight of the KIBF since the last one and half decades. It is awarded for the total contribution towards literature. This time it went to the legendary poet S. Rameshan Nair. Dr. Satyavratha Shasthri presented the puraskaram to Rameshan Nair. Former Chief Justice Sukumaran, Dr KS Radhakrishnan, Haridas, Prakashbabu, Justice Bhaskaran, Justice PS Gopinathan, poet Mangompu Gopalakrishnan and K. Radhakrishnan spoke on the occasion. C Radhakrishnan said that absence of poems filled with motherhood leads to savage culture. Balamani Amma’s poems were the embodiments of motherhood.
Earlier Dr Shasthri addressed the budding writers in St. Theresa’s College, another venue of KLF. Dr Latha Vinod spoke on the occasion.
Northern-Eastern-Southern Literature Conference was organised under KLF. It was addressed by Dr M Leelavathi, Dr K Sreenivasa Rao,
C Radhakrishnan and KP Radhakrishnan. Dr Leelavathi said, since exemplary Bharateeya works are not translated into foreign languages they do not get global recognition.
Former RSS Akhil Bharatiya Boudhik Pramukha and author of many well-known books Ranga Hari addressed a gathering in KIBF pavilion. He answered the questions of Dr Asha Gopalakrishnan regarding his literary works and organisational milestones. It was an eye opener for the book lovers from general readership.
Kochi Lit Fest held a get-together of writers. Several Malayalam writers put forward proposals to promote the Malayalam literature and the values the society has to cherish.
A seminar on “Media Literature” was participated by Anvar Sadath MLA, P Sujathan, Krishnankutti and Sreekumar Mukhathala.
Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industries (FICCI), in collaboration with KLF, organised a seminar on “The Future of Publishing.” Kendra Sahitya Akademi Secretary Dr K. Sreenivasa Rao inaugurated the programme. Novelist Sethu, Reshmi Jaymon,
Rubin D’Cruse, Sumith Guptha,
S Gopalakrishna, Venugopal, Balaji Rajagopal, Suresh Rajendran and Savio Mathew spoke. Another seminar was held on “Digital Rights Management & Combating Book Piracy.”
Several books were released on the venues of KIBF and KLF. Malayalam translation of “Avaranam,” the work of Padmashree SL Bairappa was one among them. Another book released was authored by senior CPI leader
Pannyan Raveendran. He addressed on the occasion. CPM MLA S. Sharma was another prominent person to participate in KIBF. CPI MLA Eldo Abraham was another VIP.
Krishnakumar P. Nair, the winner of Rashtrapati’s award for the excellent labourer from among the differently abled labourers, was felicitated in KIBF.
About 250 publishers and booksellers availed the stalls in the KIBF pavilion. Since about 100,000 people throng the pavilion, the vendors could sell out their books in large quantity. Sevabharathi stall spoke out what RSS has been doing to translate Manava Seva: Madhava Seva into action.
A galaxy of writers from all over the country participated in KIBF and KLF. Prof. Thuravoor Vishwambharan, Prof. Thomas Mathew, Narendra Kohli, Anand Neelakantan and Ponneelan were some among them.
All mainstream newspapers had their stalls in the KIBF. They displayed their copies from the archives of even the pre-independence period.
The organisers are all pleased as the 20th KIBF and the first KLF were really successful. It boosts the morale of all concerned. The vendors are all happy; their sale was extremely well despite the scarcity of paper money. By all means the Festival was a celebration of letters for all.
Since the prachar vibhag of RSS held its conference in Kochi one of those days, Sangh leaders in-charge of prachar all over the country visited the KIBF pavilion. Sahsarkaryavah Dathathreya Hosabole, Prachar Pramukh Dr Manmohan Vaidya and Saha Prachar Pramukh J. Nandakumar were among them.