“You don’t have diversity of opinion” they say. “You don’t hold the Government accountable” they also say. To them I invite a careful listen to the concluding session of the Pondy Lit Fest 2023 titled “Is the Indian State Designed to Fulfil our Strategic Goals?”. In Anand Ranganathan and Abhijit Iyer Mitra, we had arguably the most articulate nay scathing critiques of the current dispensation. In Abhijit Majumder, someone who is critical of the Government and the ruling party’s stand on the CAA and the post-poll Bengal violence has respectively resulted in being unfollowed by the people in power. And Prafulla Ketkar, slot him as you might want but he remains an astute mind, who edits a magazine that holds up a far truer mirror to the Government than platforms of extremes of sycophancy and hate that only cater to their echo chambers. This diversity of opinion, this clash of points of view is of course something that Leftist thought does not allow, and with that I personally would like to close the need to justify what we do and especially how we do it.
What binds us all is the collective will to see India rise to her potential. When Partha Ajit and I start our preliminary meetings in the silence and seclusion of this beach town, away from the power centres of Delhi and the buzz of fests and conclaves that dominate the calendar in the beginning of the year, we have in our hearts and minds the propagation of the idea of ‘Bharat Shakti’ as elucidated by Sri Aurobindo. India’s spiritual heritage, Sri Aurobindo’s vision of the humanity of the future, discussions on our sacred texts are therefore central to our concept of the festival. When Dr Pariksith Sigh summarises that Sri Aurobindo “took the essence, the true integrality of the Vedas and the Vedanta and brought it back to us” and Dushyanth Sridhar expounds on why a study of the ‘Itihasas’ and the ‘Puranas’ is essential for the true interpretations of Vedic symbolism, the Lit Fest aims to bring to its audience the quintessence of Indian spiritual enlightenment.
Conscious of Anti-Hindu Forces
India is a civilisational state. India is also the last and only surviving polytheistic culture that has withstood the brutal deracination that Abrahamic cults have inflicted on all their conquests and colonies worldwide. While the discussion following Anand’s book launch of “Hindus of Hindu Rashtra: Eighth-Class Citizens and Victims of State Sanctioned Apartheid” shook us all from our complacency and made us conscious of the forces the Hindu today is up against, our “Civilisational Memory (was) Validated” with Indic warriors of the finest most noble tradition in Dr Meenakshi Jain and Vishnu Jain demonstrated to us that our strength to reclaim Kashi and Mathura is characterised by our resilience and memory, our weapons that of knowledge and civilised discourse and our battlefields the courts of our land. If there was one singular moment of galvanised resolve to be a part of this battle it was when Vishnu Jain chanted “Hara Hara Mahadev”.
India is the last and only surviving polytheistic culture that has withstood the brutal deracination that Abrahamic cults have inflicted on all their conquests and colonies worldwide
Too often non-Left discourse revolves around Inda’s glorious past and the bemoaning of her current state. We look back at our ancient knowledge in astronomy and medicine but overlook our brilliant scientists in the domain today. If knowledge is ‘Shakti’ then scientific knowledge is among its purest forms. One of the aspects that sets apart the Pondy Lit Fest is our focus on our scientists and their research today. If last year we featured Dr Manjul, Prof Sathe and Dr. Rai giving us scientific proof of the continuity of our material culture, the prevalence of the horse and insights into our genetic make-up to debunk the pestilent discourse on our origins and reasons of our greatness, this year, Profs Anand Ranganathan, Shailja Singh and Soumya Pati presented to us, for the first time in a Lit Fest, their research and innovative solutions to fighting neglected diseases that affect vast populations of the world. Profs Gautam Desiraju and Aloke Kumar put all discourse on the futility of our space missions to rest.
We have never been a nation of the defeated. Yes there have been centuries of subjugation but rule in that era was never without strong resistance, constant push back, fight back and recapture of power. Just as in our past we were always let down by traitors, so too, even as the Pondy Lit Fest progressed our troops were engaged in a horrific encounter with terrorists in Anantnag. Therefore, little wonder that Shiv Aroor veered into a discussion of strategic autonomy on India Pakistan and the seas to the ongoing operations and engaged Air Marshal Anil Chopra and Commodore Srikant Kesnur. Sandeep Unnithan explained to us the real import of the Balakot strikes and the nature and evolution of our intelligence gathering. India’s territorial integrity, its defence and security are always mainstreamed in our festival. Respectful homage to our troops, a prayer in our hearts for those patrolling our borders, bringing the heroic stories of our soldiers to our audience has and will always be central to our understanding of India’s strength.
This then is but a glimpse of what we showcased at the PLF 2023. Our aim is never out of sight and we prize the independence of our decision-making capacities. We thank our partners for walking this path with us and believing in our shared goal. India shall rise. We will be happy if we will have played a small part in nourishing the hearts and minds of our viewers with the love of our land, the veneration of her ‘Shakti’ and the propagation of her ancient and modern knowledge.