Jaipur: After 12 years, this Beed wonders at how little time it takes for transformation to happen. People will pay the equivalent of Rs 1000 in toll fares just to drive through a well-maintained highway. The conclusion is that it's important to let private concessionaires lead road development projects as people will pay for good roads - as the Beed did in driving down to the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). Interestingly, one of the festival's sponsors is a company involved in infrastructure construction.
The fifth JLF had a carnival setting, where many writers from different parts of the world jostled with each other for seats at an impressive range of debates and readings. What was most evident was the creative energy in the air. There were good vibes all over.
There are always discussions on how much affluence and economic growth fuel creativity. Perhaps the JLF is a case in point. The plethora of companies, institutions and brands that supported the initiative demonstrates how small contributions from many players can make such events successful. Among the sponsors were investment banks, which know a good investment when they see one. It is not easy to get hundreds of writers to Jaipur and take care of them for five days!
JLF also demonstrated India's power in the emerging world economic order. Would writers have flocked to India 20 years ago for a literature festival? India is now the market. With 300 million plus English-speaking people, you would have to be a fool not to want to be there. Chetan Bhagat's literary skills may have been questioned, but at least he has introduced young Indians to the English novel. Future writers in the region must thank him for making books popular. This is also a big message for aspiring Nepali writers: if one can follow Bhagat's model in the region, you might break some interesting records.
The media's involvement in the event also shows the kind of productive role it can play. The festival was well covered in the international press too, which means more people will return to the event next year. Even non-sponsoring media groups covered these events. Another lesson for Nepal. Here, media houses have this peculiar habit of not covering events sponsored by rival media houses, such as what happened during the Capital Market Expo. It is time to grow up and work towards collective promotion of events of interest to the public.
Another other big leap India has taken is that events like JLF are now managed very professionally by companies set up for the purpose. The coordination and preparation of the festival, which included over 100 planning sessions, was impressive. This is another lesson for those institutions in Nepal that put on great events, but don't outsource management responsibilities to a specialised firm.
The JLF, which is a must for all art-lovers, will hopefully see more Nepali faces and perhaps even a Nepal-centred event next year. In fact the Beed is toying with the idea of hosting a similar show in Nepal in April 2011. All volunteers are welcome!