JLF does so much for Rajasthan tourism in 5 days: Diya Kumari - Hindustan Times

JLF does more for Rajasthan tourism in 5 days than what we do for entire year: Diya Kumari

Feb 01, 2024 02:09 PM IST

More than 500 speakers from across the world swarmed the different venues of the 17th edition of the annual literary pilgrimage at the Clarks Amer Hotel.

Five days of the Jaipur Literature Festival do more for Rajasthan tourism than what the state government does for it during the entire year, Deputy Chief Minister Diya Kumari said on Thursday at the grand launch of another edition of the annual event.

Diya Kumari speaks at Jaipur Literature Festival
Diya Kumari speaks at Jaipur Literature Festival

Kumari also thanked the organisers, saying the literature festival put the 'Pink City' on the world map.

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The sun shone a little brighter than usual on Thursday as bibliophiles and more than 500 speakers from across the world swarmed the different venues of the 17th edition of the annual literary pilgrimage at the Clarks Amer Hotel.

"You (JLF) have put Jaipur on the world map, it always was but you added to it... Not only all of you who are associated with the literary world, it is also a great boost for tourism and for the government of Rajasthan," Kumari said.

"I think what you do for the tourism industry is much more than any of us, of course, Rajasthan tourism is associated with the lit fest, but you do more for it (tourism)in the five days every year than all of us put together do in the entire year," said the deputy chief minister, who has been associated with the festival since its inception in 2006.

Even though the start to the inaugural day of the festival was a familiar one with conch shells blown by popular Rajasthani percussionist Nathulal Solanki and team, the organisers promised the new edition to be the "grandest of all" with three Booker winners, five Pulitzer winners, and winners of the Baillie Gifford Prize in attendance this year.

On the occasion, Sanjoy K Roy, the festival's producer, looked back at the JLF's "miraculous" growth since its first edition -- when he wondered whether 200-plus seats were too many for a literature festival in Jaipur.

The JLF, according to its organisers, clocked a third of a million people last year.

"They said there are 230 seats, and I said, 'Who would come to Jaipur for a literature festival, take out 140 seats, only keep 100'. Well, people did come, they came from across the world, from America, the UK, Germany, Europe, and across India," Roy said.

"In the first year we had 6,000 people, in the second 15,000, in the third 30,000, in the fourth 60,000, and it all started at the Diggi Palace (the former venue of the festival)," he said amidst thunderous applause from the audience.

Touted as the "biggest literary festival in the world", JLF 2024 will host some of the world's best thinkers, writers, and speakers over the next five days till February 5.

The 550 speakers and artists across a vast array of nationalities include Paul Lynch, Hernan Diaz, Ben Macintyre, Bonnie Garmus, Richard Osman, Peter Frankopan, Colin Thubron, Mary Beard, Kai Bird, Katie Kitamura, Monica Ali, Nicholas Shakespeare, Damon Galgut.

The speakers' list continues with noted Indian authors, including Mridula Garg, a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi award; Anuradha Sarma Pujari, a prominent Assamese author; B. Jeyamohan, a celebrated writer in Tamil and Malayalam; and acclaimed writers Anand Neelakantan and Kalpana Raina.

As in previous years, the festival will also celebrate linguistic diversity, featuring a broad spectrum of languages and host sessions that focus on literary works in languages, including Assamese, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Odiya, Punjabi, Tamil, and Urdu.

The launch of the festival also saw organisers pay a video tribute to British historian Patrick French and art historian BN Goswamy -- both passed away last year.

"We miss Patrick French, who so many of us loved and admired, and who left us last year. He was my beloved son-in-law and a true friend of this festival who gave so much to it over the years," said Namita Gokhale, celebrated writer and co-director of the festival.

"His work as a biographical genius remains a testament to our times. And then there is BN Goswamy who should have been here with us today. His loss is more recent," she said.

Goswamy (90), who died in November, was scheduled to speak at the current edition about his latest book, "The Indian Cat: Stories, Paintings, Poetry, and Proverbs".

French (57), best known for his biography of VS Naipaul, “The World Is What It Is”, and “India: A Portrait”, died in March last year after a four-year-long prolonged battle with cancer.

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