“Currently in India there is cashless poverty and speechless democracy,” stated Tamil writer and former IAS officer P Sivakami while delivering her keynote address at the opening of the VII edition of Goa Art and Literary Festival (GALF) at Maquinez Palace, Panaji. Sivakami came down heavily on the move of demonitisation by the Modi government during her speech. She said this move is an insidious method to torture the illiterate and poor people.
Sivakami also pointed out that the claim of the Modi government that this exercise is to get rid of black money is on contrary indulging people in corrupt practices to stand in queue on behalf of corrupt people for commission. She also pointed out that the Prime Minister is indulgent in monologue and is not concerned about discussing the issue with his fellow parliamentarians.
Sivakami who is vocal about the issues of Dalits and marginalised people believes that platforms like GALF should be used to discuss about these communities and the literature, especially the feminist literature. She also stressed on critical questioning of literature.
“The marginalised never got their share of resources and power. People in governance are not accepting the interdisciplinary ideas, also they are not even taken into cognisance,” said Sivakami.
Speaking of literature she said that the native languages are embedded with caste hierarchy and discrimination which is evident while speaking of people from different class and caste, also elaborating that very rarely the central characters are from the tribal or Dalit community. She also pointed out the fact that there is a talk to promote the vernacular languages, but the burden of promoting these is on the poor and marginalised community, especially among Dalits.
She concluded on a hope that the voice of the marginalised will not have to wait for a one more year or a one more literary festival to bring them into the mainstream dialogue.
Jorge Barreto Xavier (former Secretary of State for Culture, Portugal) in his address gave a powerful presentation on discourse. He stated that power and discourse are two nouns that have many connections with each other.
He while giving examples of two texts—one which was an extract from a story and another about climate change – said that the discourse changes based on time, where it is addressed, to whom it is addressed and in what context. He said that we live in deregulated and fragmented world where realities are also changing all the time.
He spoke at length about digital revolution. He stated that now 40 per cent of the world has access to internet and what we consume from internet may not give us the clear picture of reality. He stated that on internet we do not have access to the sources and within two seconds of clicking a button, the information is filtered and presented to us. Thus, it may not give us the correct and full picture. Xavier also stressed on the social, political, religious connotations in today’s context and said that education and culture are the two tools to find oneself and others. He also brought out an interesting aspect of slowing down in fast paced world to have a dignified life. “We must have wisdom to walk slowly and slow down on our physical exhaustion, emotional exhaustion and also slow down on our use of resources so there will be a world for our future generation,” he said.
On a concluding note he mentioned that telling stories is important as the universal fiction completes the reality. “A discourse can be a powerful tool for a better community,” he said.
After the keynote addresses the GALF 2016 artwork which is exclusively made by veteran artist, Laxman Pai was released. The artwork speaks about an engrossed reader who is lost in the world of words.
After this unveiling there was poetry reading by Portuguese poet Landeg White and then release of a book, ‘The Permanent Resident’ by Roanna Gonsalves at the hands of award-winning writer Jerry Pinto.
The concluding event was a discussion on the topic – ‘Flash Point 2016: What Now in Trump’s World’ by historian and writer Faisal Devji and journalist Ben Judah, who covered events of international significance like the Brexit and 2016 US elections.
The president of ICG, Yatin Kakodkar in his welcome speech spoke about growing of GALF in these seven years. Co-curator of GALF, writer Damodar Mauzo said that this Festival is a platform for the writers. He also focused on the theme of this year’s festival which is ‘regional languages’. The event was anchored by Jose Lourenco.
Prior to this inauguration, the photo exhibition by Jorge Barreto Xavier was made open to public viewing. These pictures are based on Xavier’s trip to the concentration camp at Cape Verde, which was a Portuguese colony in Africa in 1950s. For Xavier these images are a metaphor for freedom and constraint.
The ongoing VII edition of GALF will be held till December 11 at ICG, Dona Paula. It is conceptualised, organised and hosted by The International Centre Goa in association with Goa Writers Group; Ministry of Culture, Government of India; North Eastern Council, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Shillong Meghalaya and The Directorate of Art and Culture, Government of Goa.
(The three day GALF is open to all.)