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Diversity should come from within: Author Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

Writer Annie Zaidi stressed on the fact that diversity should not be reduced to a token representation.

Published: 25th January 2020 09:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th January 2020 09:50 AM   |  A+A-

(L-R) Annie Zaidi, Roanna Gonsalves, Urvashi Butalia, Sunny Singh and Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

(L-R) Annie Zaidi, Roanna Gonsalves, Urvashi Butalia, Sunny Singh and Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar at the Jaipur Literature Festival. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

JAIPUR: “In literature or any creative work, diversity should come from within, without deliberately thinking of including everyone,” said Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, the author of a collection of short stories, The Adivasi Will Not Dance, on the second day of Jaipur Literature Festival during a session titled Being Various: On Literary Diversity.

Writer Annie Zaidi stressed on the fact that diversity should not be reduced to a token representation. “The problem of addressing diversity comes from a particular centre of power. Specifically talking about publishing houses, everything is between Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Madras. So, for a small-town girl like me, how will my voice be represented unless I move toward these centres. Even to gain token representation, I need to be connected to the centre.” The session was sponsored by The New Indian Express Group.

Author Sunny Singh has a rather visceral reaction to the notion of diversity. “I live in the UK now and over the years have developed a hatred for the word diversity. If we are talking about things, we need to talk about equality, justice and decolonization, especially in India we think that since we got independence our work here is done.”

She goes on to highlight the irony that given the present circumstances in India it is absurd to talk about diversity. “Since we are here, what we need to concentrate on is how we can get that equality and justice. For me, writing is an act of faith and an act of resistance.”

In the end, Shekhar, who is often referred to as the Adiwasi writer, pointed out that it is time that we refer to authors as authors and not tag them as someone coming from a particular marginalised community.

“We also need to not just tell the stories of those who are marginalized but support and encourage them to tell their stories. If they don’t know how to read, teach them and if they don’t know how to write, teach them.”Jaipur Literature Festival, now in its 13th edition, will host over 250 speakers this year.

Flyers go berserk on tarmac, CISF steps in Former minister and MP Jairam Ramesh during a session titled Flood and Fury on the second day of the Jaipur Literature Festival said, “A lot of newpapers are carrying debates on NRC and many people tell me ‘we have lost all our papers during the flood, how do we prove we are Indian citizens’.The fact is that people who migrate and those subjected to floods..., are among the most affected by the exercise of NRC.”  

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