India’s multilingual and diverse literary landscape will be on full display at this year’s Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL). The country is serving as this year’s guest of honor at the fair and the presentation ranges from an incisive program on “Compassion and Grace in Ancient Indian Art” by the internationally acclaimed art critic and photographer Benoy Behl; to a talk on “The Contemporary Context of Indian Mythology” by the bestselling mythological novelist Amish Tripathi; to a discussion on “Versions of Modernism in the poetry of Tagore and Paz,” which will see participation of noted contemporary Mexican poet and novelist Alberto Ruy Sánchez’ to discussions touching upon the issues as diverse as “Science and Gender,” “Environment and Climate Change: Emerging Concerns in Children’s Literature,”; interesting presentations and discussions on the concept of “Vedic Mathematics,” “Beyond the Postures: Decoding the inner meanings of Yoga,” dynamics of translations; readings by the significant modern Hindi poet Leeladhar Jagoodi, noted Asamiya-English writer Arup Kumar Dutta, highly regarded Marathi-English poet-critic-translator Makarand Paranjape; to storytelling sessions for kids by Madhu Pant.
Some of the Mexican and Mexico-based professionals/scholars participating in the programs include India scholar and religion historian Adrian Munoz Garcia; acclaimed writer and publishing professional David Unger; poet Elsa Cross; Hispanic literature scholar Gabriel Pacheco Salvador; noted social anthropologist Guillermo De La Pena; novelist, essayist, and writer Jose Gordon; Gandhian scholar Sonia Deotto; Sanskrit and Pali scholar Roberto Eduardo Garcia Fernandez.
Thus, the official India program, being coordinated by the National Book Trust, India (NBT), a Government of India body established in 1957 for book publishing and book promotion under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, is bringing on board more than 50 Indian and Mexican writers, poets, translators, science communicators, academicians, Indologists, publishing professionals, and children litterateurs to present rich and diverse content before the audiences waiting eagerly to be in the thick of the events at FIL.
The speakers, supported by NBT, Sahitya Akademi, Vigyan Prasar, Embassy of India, Mexico, and various other agencies, represent the multi-lingual landscape of the country, which has constitutionally recognized 22 languages, besides hundreds of other languages and dialects. Accordingly, one of the important panel discussions will cover the topic of “Bilingualism, Trilingualism, Multilingualism: What It means to be a Writer in India?”
There is a conscious and concerted effort on the part of the organizers to underline and project the multi-lingual and multi-script fabric of Indian literary traditions that make them so very complex, enriching, and challenging for the uninitiated. The massive India Pavilion being constructed by the National Book Trust, India through its design partner, the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, the premier design school of the country, will welcome the visitors with huge and colorful installations of representative letters of various Indian scripts, namely, Bangla, Devnagari, Gujarati, Gurumukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Roman, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, and others.
The Pavilion, spread over nearly 1,200 square meters and to be located right at the main entrance of FIL, also highlights the concerns of endangered languages. As per the official brochure: “From 1652 languages recorded in the 1961 linguistic survey, to 780 in the most current, we are rapidly losing these languages to the forces of modernisation and urbanisation. Preserving the living heritage of language is an imperative in contemporary times which the India Pavilion recognizes and highlights.”
A large wall mural inspired by the diverse script-linguistic traditions of the country will also adorn the India Pavilion, with the silhouetted images of the late-19th-century and 20th-century Indian language writers and novelists, namely Premchand (Hindi), Rabindranath Tagore (Bangla), Phakirmohan Senapati (Odia), Subramaniam Bharati (Tamil), R.K. Narayan (English), O Chandumenon (Malayalam), Kuvempu (Kannda), Jyotirao Phule (Marathi), Lakshminath Bezbaroa (Asamiya), Govardhan Tripathi (Gujarati), Kandukuri Viresalingam Pantulu (Telugu), Mirza Ghalib (Urdu), and two women authors, Mahadevi Verma (Hindi), and Amrita Pritam (Punjabi).