Forget politics; sex sells

indian writers talk politics at swf s









Christopher Kremmer in discussion with guest writers Samanth Subramanian, Ira Trivedi and Deepti Kapoor

By Vijay Badhwar

Three young and upcoming Indian writers ”“ Samanth Subramanian, Ira Trivedi and Deepti Kapoor ”“ were invited to the Sydney Writers Festival (16-22 May) and they joined in a panel discussion, chaired by celebrated Australian journalist and author Christopher Kremmer, exploring poverty, sexual politics, corruption and violence in the subcontinent.

Samanth is the India correspondent for The National and the author of two books, ”˜Following Fish: Travels around the Indian Coast’ and ”˜This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War’.

Ira is the author of four popular books including her most recent best-seller ”˜India in Love’ and is a powerful youth voice on gender and culture. She is also a celebrated yoga practitioner having led the first international day of yoga celebrations at Rajpath with 36,000 participants, including the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi.

Deepti Kapoor is famous for her novel, ”˜A Bad Character’ and is currently working on her second book with an interesting plot of an American yoga student disappearing in India.

Christopher Kremmer provided the initial direction to the panel discussion held on 19 May at Walsh Bay piers of a polarised and hollow politics being played by the opposition parties in India. PM Modi has many skills and part of his success will be to manage the polarisation to his advantage. People have invested a lot of hope in him but in the two years of his Government, the economy is staggering and there are farmer suicides following the hardship caused by droughts. “So they have gone back to Hindutava agenda, clamping down on civil liberties,” Mr Kremmer said.

A majority of the discussion was dominated by the young women writers who steered the talk towards more interesting topics of sex, abuse and marriage in India. To make the discussion sensational, Deepti Kapoor even misquoted Baba Ramdev that “he had threatened to chop the heads off of anyone not saying ”˜Jai Mata Di’”. She later admitted to TIDU that it was her mistake to leave ”˜Bharat’ out from Baba’s quote and this was due to jet lag. But she had repeated the incorrect quote three times!

To strike a chord with the largely women audience (duly noted by one of the writers that there were not many men among the audience, that too, Indian!), the currently dominating topic of women abuse was highlighted by Deepti who related her own experience that although she was never abused, among a group of ten girls she was once with, eight had raised hands that they had been abused.

Ira Trivedi discussed the sexual morass that existed in India, “but there has been more change in India in the last 10 years compared to the last 3,000 years”, she said, adding, that the concept of arranged marriages was being rearranged. This was due to Internet empowering women.

There’s a modern India and an older India. How do you reconcile that? They meet in the cities, she replied.

In spite of so many problems facing India today, all four writers agreed: it was hope that was holding India together.

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