Diwali is the festival of lights. Holi is the festival of colours. Similarly, entering the peaceful yet vibrant arena of Kerala Literature Festival made me feel like it was the festival of the youth. Thousands of youngsters, volunteers and visitors present there made me feel excited and also hopeful about rectifying my misconceptions about youth that they generally distance themselves from these kind of activities.
I attended KLF for just two days and I couldn’t watch some of the talks I really wanted to due to the lack of time. But I honestly think that the two days were the most productive and well spend days of my life. I learned a lot being there. So here I am putting together the top 5 things that I learned from KLF.
One major concept that was brought up again and again was the question of identity. ‘I'm muslim and I'’m proud of it’ is what Umar Khalid said in the session 'Youth unrest in India' along with Nikhila Henry and Sudheesh Sudhakar. This was also echoed by transgender activist Sheethal Shyam and author and sex worker Nalini Jameela. Their lectures made me realize how important it is to stand by your identity and be proud about it even during tough times. It is important to love yourself, even though people may dislike you for your character.
The second thing KLF taught me was to appreciate one’s scholarly knowledge and ability to justify one’s stance in a perfect sense even though others may not agree with it.
In the session 'Beauty of Negation', C Ravichandran did just that. Even though I had reservation on some of his stances, his knowledge and the way he talked about his views on things were worth applauding. And the moderator, Abhilash Mohan who is journalist also deserves credit for countering his views and asking complicated questions which made the session really interesting.
Arundathi Roy in the session 'The Literature of Politics' moderated by journalist Anjana Shankar, taught me the importance of being brave and also pointed out the bitter reality which may restrain many from writing or saying. She refused to be called an activist and said 'it is the job of a writer to do whatever I have been doing'. She also said 'I’m a teller of stories. My job is to annoy everyone'. She also claimed that she was not brave, even though her actions may seem so.
'Tracking India in the Modi era' by Rajdeep Sardesai, one of India's best journalists opened my senses by debunking the general tendency of viewing everything in black and white. If any issue arises, he explained how people tend to either support a side or completely disregard it. Nobody likes it when one takes a middle stance. He also said 'Journalism is grey' which fetched him a loud applause. I found this session really interesting compared to all other sessions I watched.
Another session whih caught my attention was 'The makers of modern Kerala- Daakshayani Velayudhan'. The main speakers were Dr Parvati Devi and K S Madhavan. The session made me realise how women like Daakshayani Velayudhan who was a pivotal voice in Kerala and India was swept away from history and is now unknown to many people. She was the first SC women to graduate in India, a science graduate, a member of the Cochin Legislative Council and one among the nine female members of the Constituent Assembly of India.
My main regret was not being able to attend the session #377, discussion on the rights of the socially excluded. The discussion consisted of Sheethal Shyam, a transgender activist, Gay activists Jijo Kuriakose and Muhammad Unais, Sanskrit university professor Biju Vinsent moderated by Suneetha TV (My mother). The 377 verdict is a major success to our democracy and is definitely a step towards a more inclusive society. I hail the Supreme Court and the democractic setup of our nation which makes it possible for us to have various discussions including those of political nature. Yes, everything may not perfect but as Rajdeep Sardesai said ‘India is India, yaar’