It was indeed a great delight to receive the letter dated 19th October 2014 from Shri Dev Bhardwaj, Director, India Inter –continental Cultural Association, Chandigarh, inviting me to participate in the 10th International Writers Festival, India (an International conference of poets, writers and scholars) scheduled for 27-28, December 2014 at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It was all the more fascinating to me as I do not consider myself fit to be called as a poet, writer and/or scholar! Venue was announced as GANDHI BHAVAN, Thiruvananthapuram –the God’s own land, and the theme of the conference was to be Literature and World Peace with special focus on VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM- all very dear to my heart. Hence I decided to attend the Festival.
I love train travel and in fact when I visited TRIVANDRUM (as called in those days) couple of decades ago, I travelled by train-around sixteen hour travel from Chennai and I wrote a 64 line poem in English titled “DELIGHT INDEED IS TRAIN TRAVEL” which was greatly appreciated by the readers. But then my affectionate sons felt that sixteen hour train journey will be taxing their 74 year old father and organized my air travel-to and fro hardly taking 75 minutes by flight!
Since it was a couple of years, I visited air port- last was my air travel to Goa to attend the annual convention of the Authors’ Guild Of India” where I submitted a paper on “READING CULTURE IN INDIA” and presented a poem on “WORLD PEACE”-of course both were well received by the scholarly delegates, I agreed with their suggestion of air travel to the festival. Indigo flight took off at Chennai on Friday the 26th December at 16.10 hours and reached Trivandrum at 17.20 hours. Aircraft was full –all the 180 seats occupied. Seated along with me on the right of 18th row were Shri K P Radhakrishnan, a former MLA , Tamilnadu and a Tamil Scholar to attend the Festival and Smt. Ranjani Ranganathan- a student of journalism in Orissa, married in Delhi and hailing from Kerala! In seventy minutes, discussion on varied topics took place! Frills free flight-pay for water or snacks if you need! My sons paid two hundred and fifty rupees in addition to the ticket fares and that fetched me four slices of bread sandwich-tomato, cucumber, lettuce and cheese along with 250 ml of coke! Extra five hundred for both ways!!
Though the organizers arranged accommodation who have opted for the same in JAS Hotel and Hotel B G PLaza , nearer to the Festival venue, viz Gandhi Bhavan , Thycaud, Trivandrum, I chose to stay in the Guest House of Life Insurance Corporation of India whose employee was I for a little more than four decades! That beautiful and comfortable Guest House was six kilometers away in Pattom.
On that day to nourish, Saturday the December 27th, first day of the Festival, I reached the venue around eight in the morning (though the Conference was scheduled to commence only at 10.30 hrs.) in an auto driven by an honest driver who did not claim a rupee more than the meter rate, rare to come across in my place in these days!
The venue “Gandhi Smarak Nidhi”, Gandhi Bhavan, in Thycaud, Thiruvananthapuram was located in calm and serene location. Though I was there two and a half hours ahead of the schedule, a nice Gandhi an, clad in saffron khadhi dhoti and pyjama, brightly bearded Secretary of the Bhavan Shri K G Jagadeesan received with love and respect. The building was sanctified by great personalities as Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, former President of India and Shri Lalbahadur Shastri, former Prime Minister in connection with foundation stone laying ceremony or inauguration of the building. A beautiful burst size statue of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of our Nation blesses us as we enter the main building.
The 10th International Writers’ Festival was organized by India Inter-Continental Cultural Association, Chandigarh. Co-organisers were Indian Ruminations, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) and Shruti-the School of Music, Guwahati (Assam) and supported by Writers Club, Chandigarh and International Poets Society, Nellore (Andhra Pradesh). This was the 10th Festival organized by Kafla International- the first nine were held in Chandigarh (2004), Kurukshetra(2006), Agra(2007), Ambala Cantonment(2008), Jaipur(2009), Chennai((2010), Wardha(2011), Bhubaneswar((2012) and Nellore(2013).
This conference was attended by about thirty delegates from the countries like Bangladesh ((9), Croatia ((1), Kazakhstan (1), South Africa (1), Sudan (2), UK (1), USA (1), Uzbekistan (13), Brunei Darussalam(1) and Iran(1).
About 96 Indian delegates attended. Andhra Pradesh(3), Assam(1), Bihar(1), Chandigarh(10), Chhattisgarh(3), Gujarat(6), Haryana(2), Jharkhand(2), Karnataka(6), Kerala(15), Madhya Pradesh(3), Maharashtra(4), Meghalaya(1), Mizoram(1), Odisha(2), Puduchery(2), Punjab(6), Rajasthan(1), Tamilnadu((14), Telengana(7), Tripura(1), Uttar Pradesh(2) and West Bengal(3).
A beautifully designed booklet was brought out by the organizers providing all the details of the Festival along with the extracts of the papers to be submitted and poems to be presented-indeed a great guide to the delegates.
First session of the Festival on 27th was opening Ceremony and Welcome Speeches and release of Books as is usual with such conferences.
Shri Dev Bharadwaj, Director, IICCA welcomed the gathering.
The New Sunday Express, Thiruvananthapuram dated 28th December reported thus:
LITERARY FETE BEGINS
T.Puram: The two day 10th International Literary Meet and the Indian ruminations literary Festival began here on Saturday. Thomas Isaac MLA, who presided over the inaugural function, called for a radical shift in attitudes so as to facilitate the expansion of cultural activities in the country. “This is very much needed if the future generations are not to abandon art and culture and blindly follow the culture of consumerism,” he added. He said that capitalism would “force to convert” leisure time for promoting production. “Here we have a system that breeds greed. One should strive for a society that promotes sustainable development”, he said.
Poet Pudussery Ramachandran inaugurated the meet. He said that Mahatma Gandhi keenly worked for unity of people belonging to different groups. Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi Chairman N. Radhakrishnan, who spoke at the programme, said that the writers have become “change agents” of the society. Writers have the responsibility in molding the future generations, he said. Asror allayarov, a writer and journalist from Uzbekistan, poet Jacob Issac, and Laltluanglina khiangte, who received Padma Shree Award for literature and education in 2006, were also present at the inaugural function of the meet.
The meet held at Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi premises is being jointly organized by Indian Inter-Continental Cultural Association, Indian Ruminations, Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi and Shruthi School of Music.”
Dr. N Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Council for Gandhian Studies(New Delhi) Working Chairman Kerala Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, and Secretary General: Writers Forum for Harmony(New Delhi) addressed and his presidential address of KAFLA INTERCONTINENTAL”S 10th International writers Festival on the theme “THE IDEAL OF VASUDEIVA KUTUMBAKAM in RAJA RAO’S KANTHAPURA and the GREAT INDIAN WAY, distributed to all delegates proves a wonderful reading.
After the addresses, a number of new books were released including this writer’s (N V Subbaramana’s) two books- his book of English poems titled “GIFT OF LIFE” translated into Telugu by the poet SRIRAGI, titled “BRATHUKU VARM” was received by PERUGU RAMAKRISHNAN, noted Telugu poet and writer, “THANNIR ALAI” in Tamil translated work of English poems of Japanese poet and the founder of Soka Gokai International, Japan, Daisaku Ikeda by N V Subbaraman was received by Pudussery Ramachandran.
In the two days of conference in all 36 papers by the Indian delegates and five papers of delegates from abroad were presented on different subjects keeping the focus on the main theme of the Conferences including my paper on “TRANSLATION LITERATURE”. Most of the papers were in English and a few in Hindi. All the scholarly papers were well received.
In all 68 poems in English, Hindi, Malayalam were presented including my 30 line poem in English – “WORLD PEACE- THE NECTAR” and needless to say all were well received.
In the evenings, songs were rendered in various languages – Hindi, Guajarati, Assamese, Punjabi and Malayalam proving that some of the poets can be great singers too!
On the whole several sessions of Paper submission, poems presentation and singing of songs in the evenings/nights were all well received.
On 27th night there was a candle light procession by the delegates for world peace and harmony and the candles were kept at the feet of Mahatma invoking his blessings and guidance. It was indeed a grand sight to witness!
Hospitality in the form of lunch and dinner was excellent. Typical Kerala food-raw rice, boiled rice, chapathi/roti, dhal, poriyal, sambar, rasam, curd, pappad, payasam , aviyal, raitha and so on- served with love and affection, regard and respect- a great experience indeed!
Timely tea and biscuits served as a great booster to the ‘at- times- tired- minds.’
Certificates were presented, merit awards were given, and mementos were presented to the organizers by the Kerala delegates.
Profuse vote of thanks was proposed by Sandhya and Parinita Goswami.
It was announced by Prof. Mustafizur Rahman of Bangladesh that they will be hosting the eleventh International Literary Festival at Dhaka in Bangladesh sometime in September / October 2015.
Quite a number of delegates went on a picnic tour to Kanyakumari, Southern most point of India that is Bharath on Monday the 29th December 2014.
Organizing such a conference successfully is not an ordinary achievement. Lot of efforts has gone in for days and weeks together to make this festival a memorable one in life time.
Patron Mr. Jacob Isaac, a poet of international eminence and author of several books living in Kerala and South Africa and Mr. Perugu Ramakrishna, a poet and convener, International Poets Society, Nellore (AP) made significant contribution for the success of the conference.
It is no doubt a team work; yet particular compliments should have to be offered to sarva Shri Dev Bharadwaj Director IICCA, Chandigarh, Sandhya, Managing Editor and the Chief Programme Coordinator, Thiruvananthapuram, KG jagadeesan, Secretary, Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, Thiruvananthapuram, Prof. J T jayasingh, Chief Editor, Indian Ruminations, and coordinator, and Associates Dr. Babitha Marine Justine, Philipose Thathampally, P L Sreedharan Parokode, Sham Singh and Sathi Balwinder Singh.
Yes; with a little more cooperation from the delegates, time could have been better managed. Planting of a sampling in the Gandhi Bhavan in commemoration would have been ideal.
With happy memories of the tenth international writers’ Festival, delegates returned to their headquarters with a firm resolve to pursue world peace and harmony, treating the entire world as one family through literary activities. I, N V Subbaraman, am not an exception!
Yes; those are the “DAYS TO NOURISH AND THOUGHTS TO CHERISH”!