The "greatest literary show on Earth" returns to New York — the exhilarating energy of the Jaipur Literature Festival will be returning to New York this year as JLF New York is celebrated in a perfect blend of the physical and the virtual with internationally acclaimed authors and thinkers taking part in a range of provocative panels and debates. Speakers include Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Guru Prakash Paswan, Mahmood Mamdani, and Sarfraz Manzoor, among others.
Tickets will be available for purchase at Asia Society on the day of the event - credit cards only.
10:00 AM- 10:40 AM
Morning Music followed by the book release of Shāstra: A Journey through Indian Music History
Morning Music is performed by Pandit Shubhendra Rao and Saskia Rao-de Haas accompanied by Nitin Mitta on Tabla
Internationally acclaimed performers, composers, cultural entrepreneurs and music educators Pandit Shubhendra Rao and Cello Virtuoso Saskia Rao-de Haas carry Indian music towards new horizons with their strong belief in the unifying power of music. Their effortless musical communication and improvisation is a joyful experience for listeners who are spellbound by the energy and freshness that they bring to their performance.
11:00 AM -11:50 AM
Panel 1: Restless as Mercury: My Life as a Young Man
Gopalkrishna Gandhi in conversation with Ramu Damodaran
Restless as Mercury: My Life as a Young Man edited by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, is a riveting and candid account of the struggles and experiences that formed Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s philosophy through various stages of his life. Rooted in the research of the Mahatma’s writings and personal communications, this book serves as a companion to his autobiography, My Experiments with Truth. Diplomat, writer, public intellectual, academic, and the youngest of Kasturba and Mohandas Gandhi's grandchildren, Gopalkrishna Gandhi provides deep insights into the beliefs nurtured by the Mahatma and the balance he maintained between love for family and his overriding sense of public duty. Gopalkrishna Gandhi reads selected excerpts from the book and discusses the contemporary relevance of the text in conversation with Ramu Damodaran.
Presented by BluOne Ink
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM
Panel 2: The Last Queen: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy
In her latest historical novel, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni draws a vivid portrait of the last reigning queen of India’s Sikh Empire, Maharani Jindan Kaur. Jindan, the regent of the vast Sikh Empire from 1843 until 1846, was renowned for her beauty, energy and strength of purpose. When her son, barely six years old, unexpectedly inherited the throne, Jindan assumed the regency. She transformed herself from a pampered wife to a warrior ruler, determined to protect her people and her son’s birthright from the encroaching British Empire. Divakaruni’s previous books include the bestselling novel Mistress of Spices and the short story collection Arranged Marriage, which won the PEN/Josephine Miles award and the American Book Award.
1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
Panel 3: Better to Have Gone: Love, Death, and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville in conversation with Myna Mukherjee
Journalist and writer Akash Kapur’s book on the intentional community of Auroville, an international township of thousands located in South India, is at once a haunting personal quest and an erudite study in the history of utopias. Better to Have Gone: Love, Death, and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville unravels a personal tragedy: the mysterious deaths of John Walker and Diane Maes, parents to Kapur’s wife, Auralice. Kapur returns to Auroville, where both he and his wife were raised, and in confronting the ghosts of those distant deaths, an astonishing history of faith, idealism, extremism, and the quest for perfectionism is revealed. Kapur discusses Auroville, the opportunities and perils of utopia, the nature of memory and personal grief, and their intersection with history.
2:00 PM - 2:50 PM
Panel 4: Blinded by the Light: The Life and Times of Sarfraz Manzoor
Sarfraz Manzoor introduced by Sanjoy K. Roy
Sarfraz Manzoor's memoir, Greetings from Bury Park, is a hymn to his late father and to the other great hero in his life--Bruce Springsteen. Adapted into film by Gurinder Chadha as Blinded by the Light (2019), it chronicles Manzoor’s experiences as a British Muslim boy growing up in 1980s Luton and the impact Springsteen’s lyrics had upon him. His recent book, They: What Muslims and Non-Muslims Get Wrong about Each Other, examines the roots of the social and cultural divisions that plague Britain today. Introduced by Sanjoy K. Roy, Manzoor takes us on a journey through his life and work.
3:00 PM - 3:50 PM
Panel 5: Pax Cultura: The Banner of Peace
Swaminathan Aiyar, Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Asha Jadeja Motwani in conversation with Ramu Damodaran
The Banner of Peace, symbolic of the Roerich Pact—the first international treaty dedicated to the protection of artistic establishments, scientific institutions and historical monuments—was proposed by Russian artist, philosopher and writer Nicholas Roerich, illustrated after he had shifted to India, and signed in 1935 by an American President along with representatives from twenty Latin American countries—a global coming together to ensure the longevity of artistic and cultural treasures. The original painting is now in the custodianship of DAG. This session observes the cultural and historical significance of a Pact that famously preceded the formation of the United Nations while evaluating its humanitarian significance in today's world.
4:00 PM - 4:50 PM
Panel 6: Intersections: Searching Equity
Guru Prakash Paswan and Shazia Ilmi in Conversation with Prashant Jha
Dalit activist Guru Prakash Paswan discusses the wounds of history and the processes of restorative justice. Makers of Modern Dalit History, co-authored with Sudarshan Ramabadran, features inspiring accounts of the forms of protest, activism, social reform, and the legacies of individuals who battled the divisive, discriminatory force of the caste system in contemporary India.
5:00 PM - 5:50 PM
Panel 7: Digital Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and the Cyber Future
Asha Jadeja Motwani, M. R. Rangaswami, and Benny Thomas in conversation with Asad Lalljee
The very architecture of thought has transformed the digital world. It is marked by agility, speed, disruptive processes, and the courage of creative destruction and reinvention. A distinguished panel seeks the markers and provocations of change and discusses how it can be inclusive for the greater good.
Presented by Avid Learning
6:00 PM - 6:50 PM
Panel 8: Neither Settler nor Native
Mahmood Mamdani in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy
Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities is acclaimed writer and academic Mahmood Mamdami’s genealogy of the colonial and nation-state. Steeped in research and case studies, the book signals the need to reimagine political communities beyond tokenism and expediency. Mamdani explores the nature of the nation-state, and the path to a reimagined, decolonized future.
Program subject to change
A protégé of Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar, Shubhendra Rao has established himself “not only as a master of his instrument but also as a thinking musician, constantly endeavoring to carry his instrument beyond conventional boundaries” and “a musical bridge to many culture whose music is an experience for his audience that is not aimed at titillating the senses, but to seize the soul”. Critics and connoisseurs hail him as a worthy successor to his Guru’s tradition. His relentless service in promoting Indian music has made him a highly respected figure in the field of music and education across the world.
Maestro Saskia Rao-de Haas was trained as a Western cellist from a young age onwards, but changed direction when she came in touch with Indian music in 1993. She is known as a master performer in Indian classical music and hailed as the creator of a new instrument: the Indian cello. Flute Maestro Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia speaks of his disciple Saskia as “someone who has been taught by God.” Critics and audiences alike have praised her for artistic depth and technical virtuosity.
Ramu Damodaran is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Social and Economic Progress in New Delhi, India, and Honorary Adviser to the Permanent Observer Mission of the University for Peace to the United Nations. In his international civil service career, he served as the first Director of the United Nations Academic Impact from 2010 to 2021 and was also secretary of the United Nations General Assembly’s Committee on Information since 2011. His thirty-three-year association with the United Nations began as a delegate of India, followed by secretariat assignments, including the Departments of Special Political Questions, Peacekeeping, and Global Communications, as well as the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. As a member of the Indian Foreign Service, he served as executive assistant to the Prime Minister of India between 1991 and 1994.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning writer, activist, teacher, and the author of 20 books including Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, Before We Visit the Goddess, Palace of Illusions, The Forest of Enchantments, and most recently, The Last Queen, which won the Times of India AutHer Awards for Best Fiction and the Best Book of 2022 Award from The International Association of Working Women. Her work has been published in over 100 magazines and anthologies and translated into 30 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Bengali, Hungarian, Turkish, Hindi and Japanese. She is the recipient of the American Book Award, PEN Josephine Miles Award, a Premio Scanno, and a Light of India award. In 2015 The Economic Times included her in their list of 20 Most Influential Global Indian Women. Divakaruni is the McDavid professor of Creative Writing in the internationally acclaimed Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston.
Gopalkrishna Gandhi read English Literature and History at Delhi University. A monthly columnist for The Hindustan Times and The Telegraph, he writes for The Hindu as well. He is currently Distinguished Professor of History and Politics at Ashoka University.
Shazia Ilmi is a former television journalist and the national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party. She was a founder member of India’s Aam Aadmi Party and served as the media strategist for India Against Corruption movement led by social activist Anna Hazare during 2011-2012. Ilmi has relentlessly campaigned for gender issues and led scores of protests at Jantar Mantar and other places across the city for women’s safety and empowerment.
Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based senior editor of The Hindustan Times and the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.
Akash Kapur is the author of Better to Have Gone: Love, Death, and the Quest for Utopia, which was selected as a book of the year in 2021 by the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, the New Statesman, Idler, and Openmagazine; and longlisted for the Chautauqua Prize. Kapur is the recipient of a Whiting Non-Fiction Grant, the former 'Letter from India' columnist for the New York Times, and writes regularly for The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. He is a Senior Fellow at the GovLab at NYU and a founding member of the academic advisory board for Krea University.
Asad Lalljee is SVP, Essar Group, CEO of Avid Learning, a public programming platform, and Curator, Royal Opera House, Mumbai. Under Lalljee’s leadership, Avid has distinguished itself with a variety of arts and cultural programming and is currently at the forefront of India’s cultural hub. In 2016, he was appointed curator of the newly restored Royal Opera House, Mumbai, for which he designed a robust program. Lalljee has several years of advertising, publishing, marketing, and business development experience, both in international and domestic markets. He has worked for 14 years in New York with companies like McCann-Erickson and Hill Holiday (IPG). He has a Bachelor's degree in Economics from St. Xavier's College and a Master's in Global Marketing Communications from Emerson College, Boston.
Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University. His latest work, Neither Settler Nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities, was shortlisted for the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding. Mamdani has been listed among the top ten global intellectuals by Prospect magazine, UK.
Sarfraz Manzoor is a journalist, author, broadcaster and screenwriter. He was born in Pakistan in 1971 and moved to Britain when he was two years old. His acclaimed 2007 childhood memoir, Greetings from Bury Park, was the inspiration for the hit movie, Blinded by the Light, which was co-written by Manzoor. His latest book, They: What Muslims and Non-Muslims Get Wrong About Each Other, was published in August 2021.
Asha Jadeja Motwani, one of Silicon Valley’s highly respected venture capitalists, has invested in over 100 well-known technology startups in the Valley, such as Paypal, Mimosa, AppDynamics, Meraki, and Pinterest. As founding stakeholders in Google, Motwani & her late husband played a critical role in building & crafting the DNA of Google, the startup. As an active philanthropist, she helped create MakerFaire Africa in 2009 and later launched dozens of MakerFests in India to showcase alternative means of learning and earning through local problem-solving. Motwani set up India’s most advanced Fablab at Cept University (her Alma mater), and placed key engineers and architects from MIT and CEPT to integrate Fablab into the course curriculum.
Myna Mukherjee is a cultural producer, curator and founder and director of Engendered, a transnational arts and human rights organization based in New York and New Delhi that focuses on the intersections of gender and marginalizations in South Asia. She has curated internationally at Lincoln Center, Asia Society, Tribeca Film Center, Queens Museum and others. For the India chapter of Engendered, she initiated Delhi's first and only alternative art space that served as one of the first galleries and artist residencies dedicated to incubating a space for cultural production around issues of gender, sexuality and rights of the marginalized for over 5 years. She has curated some of India's most prolific touring visual arts exhibitions and brought South Asia's largest human rights film festival, I View World, to Delhi in 2016. In 2019 Life Style Asia magazine listed her as one of the top 5 curators revolutionizing India's art scene. In 2020 she was invited to co-fund Hub India, a studio program representing contemporary art and the Indian ecosystem for Artissima, one of the most important art fairs in Italy
Guru Prakash Paswan is the National Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janta Party and an Assistant Professor at Patna University. He has been instrumental with the Dalit Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry since 2015 and has worked as National Youth coordinator and is presently working as an adviser. His columns keep appearing on Dalit issues in the Indian Express and The Print, among others. He has co-authored the book, Makers of Modern Dalit History, with Sudarshan Ramabadran.
Sanjoy K. Roy, an entrepreneur of the arts is the Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, which produces over 33 highly acclaimed performing arts, visual arts and literary festivals in 40 cities across the world, including the iconic annual Jaipur Literature Festival, international editions of JLF and the launched-during-lockdown digital JLF Brave New World series. He is a Founder Trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust, providing support services for street and working children in Delhi. Roy works closely with various industry bodies and the government on policy issues in the cultural sector in India and has lectured and collaborated with leading international universities. He is the Co-Chair of the FICCI creative industries committee.
Benny Thomas is currently the Global Planning Lead, Creative and Experiential at Meta. A brand strategy leader, Thomas is a professor of marketing at City College New York, with over 30 years of experience building brands in almost all major categories and launching integrated campaigns at local, regional, and global levels.
This program is part of Asia Society's Spotlight on India
This program is presented in collaboration with Teamwork Arts.
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