Arunachal Lit Fest- a way forward

[ Amar Sangno ]

The department of Information and Public Relation, govt of Arunachal Pradesh organized the Arunachal Lit Fest 2018 in Itanagar from Nov 28-30.
Three-day event was a long desired by the literature lovers which also gave an opportunity for an interface with the established writers-Mridula Garg, Mamang Dai, Dhruba Hazarika, Mark Tully, YD Thongchi, Mitra Phukan among others.
Sadly, the response to the maiden Lit Fest was not quite impressive. Only sizeable numbers of book lovers were seen attending the parallel sessions throughout the festival at DK Convention here.
The empty chairs led the department to invite the school children, who did not seem interested or fascinated by the literary events which also included poetry recitation, panel discussions and conversation with the authors.
The only time the school children seemed excited was during their selfie session with the former Governor Gen JJ Singh.
I wonder how many of them paid attention to poem written by Ngurang Reena- ‘That Cold November Night’ a touching tribute to her father Ngurang Pinch.
Reena’s poem was on mysterious death of her father, and she vented out her anger, pain and denial of justice to her family and father.
The festival also gave a platform to many budding and established writers and poets of the state and elsewhere.
I spoke to some of the authors and participants to garner their views.
Noted writer YD Thongchi spoke on the drought facing the literary scene in the state.
So far the state has garnered only two Sahitya Academy awards- one by Thongchi himself and other by Mamang Dai.
Thongchi highlighted abject development in the literary field and poor writing skills among young authors.
Perhaps, the author’s words might be considered a mere lamentations by the young people of the state as they are inclined more to noisy music and parties embellished with Bollywood stars, being aggressively promoted currently in Arunachal.
However, noted writer and poet Mamang Dai felt that for a maiden festival, the Lit Fest marked a good impression.
“It was a very well put effort by the IPR department. The reason for less participation among the youth could be because of the College and University examination” said Dai. She advocated for such events and promotion of writings and literature.
“Chanting itself is form of literature, it just need to be promoted and someone might start translating” she adds. Dai also felt that media should play a significant role to keep the conversation going.
“The literature festival is something new to our youths and therefore the culture of attending literature festival is not there. For the beginning, it was quite impressive” said CCRD Executive Director Moji Riba, who hosted Mark Tully in a conversation.
“To make the event more interesting, involve the youth because we cannot force them to come. The literature festival should be a youth centric” Riba added.
Low impact of Lit Fest could be attributed to lack of reading culture in our state.
Fact of the matter is that the importance of literature has never been discussed in any social platforms.
“We don’t discuss books with our parents, we don’t even have a book store selling books other than academic books in the state” observed Higio Zargnam.
As the established writers like YD Thongchi and MamangDai are desperate to pass the baton on to the younger generation, the youths have to shoulder the responsibility. Literature should not be allowed to die in Arunachal, even before it is born. Festivals such as the recent one should be encouraged.