Quiet Sunday at day four of Jaipur Lit Fest
After days of controversy, it was a lazy Sunday mood on the fourth day of the Jaipur Literature Festival, with visitors flowing in at frequent intervals for a few well-publicised discourses like Michael Sandel's "The Public Philosopher" and "Re-imagining the Kamasutra" and panels on Indian cinema.
Was it a lull before a storm? A delegate said the excitement that had built up around the controversy over leading social scientist and analyst Ashis Nandy's remarks about corruption among the Dalit and backward groups had died, taking the steam off the festival.
However, shadows still lingered over the event. A legal notice has been served on the organizers for a hearing in court Monday about the presence of two of the four authors who had read out excerpts from Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" last year.
Hardline Muslim outfits had sought a ban on four writers -novelists Jeet Thayil, Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar and Ruchir Joshi, who were protesting that Rushdie had to put off his visit to the festival following protests by Islamic groups.
Another notice has been served on scholar Ashis Nandy and producer of the festival Sanjoy K. Roy for allowing Nandy to comment against marginalised groups. An FIR under Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has been filed against the two.
Roy termed it the work of a "splinter group".
"Nobody had given them the attention they wanted, so they decided to let a little fireball loose. Ashis Nandy is one of the most erudite men in the country. Some people blew it out of proportion," Roy told IANS.
In one corner of the festival, a group of young volunteers was busy compiling statistics. So far, 57,000 unique (individual) registrations at the counter and 100,000 in all, said a JLF volunteer.
"By tomorrow, we hope it crosses last year's mark of 120,000," he said.
The festival is in talks with "interested parties" to move to a bigger venue, Roy hinted.