Chandigarh: Day 2 of Literati-2020 opened with a lively and meaningful conversation with social worker-author Padma Shri Sudha Murthy. Exuding love and joy through her simple but profound words, she focused on the importance of love and empathy for the people at the grassroots level. Her source of satisfaction and happiness, she says, is, “helping the underprivileged. That is the only purpose of life.” Living by the belief ‘generosity of a few is hope for millions, the prolific writer feels the biggest and also the most difficult thing to achieve in today’s time is the ability to understand one another.
While talking about one of the chapters in her latest book, “Grandparents Bag of Stories”, Sudha said the best medicine really is genuine affectionate and compassionate hug to an individual in need. That’s what the world requires today, more than anything. Proud of her culture, she enjoys writing in her local language, Kannada, and says her works are for the common people. Giving respect to one another is a part of her character and that reflected when she continued to call Vivek Atray as Vivek ji. Her advice for the millennials is to imbibe highest work ethics, not be afraid of hard work, acquire skills and be proud of your country.
When asked what’s happiness to her, she smiled and said, “It is not in any material acquisition but working for the people in need, which keeps me joyous and nothing worries or disturbs me since I understand life is transient.”
After a motivational session, a conversation with author-historian Rakhshanda Jalil got us thinking about some of the real issues that our country is grappling with. She spoke about the emerging negative parochial outburst amongst people during the pandemic. Calling it an unfortunate situation, she said it resonates with her recent book, “But You Don’t Look Like a Muslim”, published by Harper Collins.
Rakhshanda feels despite all struggles in the past, our nation hasn’t learnt from it. People continue to judge others on the basis of external representations. Her idea of growth is when people rise above the stereotypes and find unity in diversity. The adverse impact of the social media in today’s time, she said, is so visible.
“Though the current year taught us to live frugally and learn from the fragility of life, people have unfortunately failed to learn to be compassionate, more caring and tolerant that is because they are fanned by misinformation and illogical campaigns on the social media that corrupted the people’s mind,” said Rakhshanda.
The author says it is time we learn our lessons and step away from the narrow, limiting thought patterns and shun violence on the basis of religion.
From the outer word, the attention shifted to the inner mechanism in the third session that had scientist-psychologist Shymal Vallabhjee and banker-turned-fitness trainer Shwetambari Shetty. A discussion on how can people develop good eating habits at the time when fast food is the easy and tempting option, the growing addiction to sugar, to eating when hungry… the session was quite interesting.
Shymal emphasised on the importance of fasting, which, he said, is, “a validated science from the Vedic times and common to every religion as it cleanses and detoxifies the body.”
He also explained the reason for sugar addiction as it is used in most products to increase shelf life, which most of us are unaware of. Working with some international players, he believes it is important to understand your body at the cellular biology level and then choose the foods.
Shwetambari on the other hand advised conscious eating, being aware of what’s going inside your body and how the body responds to various foods, and enjoying what you eat.
This was followed by another interesting interaction on yoga. US-based political blogger, yoga practitioner and author Jerome Armstrong highlighted the benefits of yoga and how it controls mind, body and soul through proper control of breath.
He said it even brings about dynamic changes in the lifestyle of people and encourages them to internal reengineering. In the same session, yoga acharya Ira Trivedi suggested practicing yoga in the morning as that’s when the metabolic system works at its best capacity.
In the evening session, we saw songwriter and author Anmol Malik, daughter of music director Anu Malik, and another prolific writer Vibha Mitra, explore the softer dimensions of the Impossible Secrets: Coming of Age Stories for Young Adults. Anmol said studying in abroad made her responsible, mature and she has shared the lessons she learnt in her book. Vibha said while writing for young adults, one had to be careful, especially using safe choice of words that resonate with them.
The award-winning author and journalist with his recent bestseller, “2019: How Modi won India” Rajdeep Sardesai, consulting editor with India Today, was another highlight of the evening session ‘Power Coffee’ in conversation with author-journalist Jupinderjit Singh.
In this session, he shared his memories of working as a lawyer after returning from Oxford to entering journalism. “2014: The Election that Changed India”, and “2019: How Modi Won India”, according to him, were the documentations of Indian political and democratic scenario for the posterity to understand what, how and why of these historic events. He said, “Both books were written to educate the readers and make politics accessible to them, inform them about political trends and events that unfolded.”
Talking about the current scenario of TV journalism, he said: “With over 400 TV channels in the country, TV journalists are sharply polarised and divided just like our society, and strongly believed that TV journalism is on the decline and Sushant Singh Rajput’s case sounded the death knell turning channels into a ‘tamasha’.”
Fake news through social media channels is impacting the lives of people. Print media, according to him, protects and retains its credibility and it’s time editors and owners of channels raised the bar and improved the standards of journalism to plug the decline of this medium.
The last session of the day, “Once Upon a Time: The Fabulous Four Met a Spyder’, focused on children writing and revolved around the latest novel “Itsy Bitsy Spyder” by Bangalore-based author Apeksha, and another children’s writer Rajesh Talwar whose recent fantasy “Fabulous Four Battle Zoozoo Wizard” has been published.
— Gurnaaz Kaur
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